It may be hard to believe, but there are just three weeks left in the high school basketball regular season and it’s make-or-break time for many squads.
Conference championships for the Laurel Highlands and WestPAC are slated for Feb. 16 with district playoffs in 5 and 6 set to start on Feb. 18.
In the Heritage Conference, after some surprising early losses, the Northern Cambria boys have risen to the top of the standings.
The Colts (13-3, overall, 9-1 conference) have won eight straight since the start of 2013, including avenging a 52-49 loss at Ligonier Valley in December with an imposing 62-24 victory over the Rams on Thursday.
Northern Cambria, which has six conference games remaining, is the defending District 6 Class A champion, but the Colts are playing in Class AA this season.
According to MaxPreps, only Bellwood-Antis (14-1) and Bald Eagle Area (14-1) have better records in District 6-AA at this point.
Three Northern Cambria players average scoring in double figures, led by senior Adam Polites (22.3 points a game), the area’s latest player to hit the 1,000-point milestone.
Senior Jeff Hogan adds 13.7 and senior Josh Bonatesta 12.7 points a game.
Homer-Center (9-2) is chasing the Colts.
Blairsville (15-1, 10-0) leads the girls standings in the Heritage with Marion Center just behind (9-1).
In the Laurel Highlands, the Bishop Carroll boys are unbeaten in Section 1 at 5-0 with Bishop Guilfoyle just behind at 4-1. The two squads square off on Friday.
In Section 2, Greater Johnstown and Bishop McCort are both 4-1 while Somerset is 3-2.
On the girls side in the LHAC, Bishop Guilfoyle remains unbeaten in the conference and in Section 1 with a 5-0 mark with Forest Hills just behind at 4-1.
In Section 2, Westmont Hilltop is 5-0 trailed by Bishop McCort. The Hilltoppers are at McCort this evening.
In the WestPAC North, the Conemaugh Township boys are undefeated with a 7-0 record followed by Ferndale (6-2) and Blacklick Valley (5-2).
Shanksville-Stonycreek tops the South Division standings with a 9-0 record followed by Shade (7-1) and Berlin (5-3).
In the WestPAC girls standings, Portage remains unbeaten at 9-0 in the North with Conemaugh Township and Conemaugh Valley just behind at 6-2. The Mustangs will be challenged when they play at Township this week.
In the South, Berlin Brothersvalley is also undefeated with a 7-0 mark. The Mountaineers are being chased by Shade at 7-2 and Meyersdale at 6-2.
Grand time: A total of 10 days elapsed between the area’s last two 1,000-point scorers – Westmont Hilltop’s Erin Rodgers and Northern Cambria's Polites, who hit the milestone Thursday.
Portage junior Olivia McCabe is poised to eclipse the milestone, as she needs just five points when the Mustangs host Salisbury-Elk Lick tonight.
Cory Isenberg is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat.