And while their situations are completely opposite, Peabody Magnet High and Tioga High are playing with two similar motivations tonight: a spot in the Top 28, and revenge.
Peabody is playing in the Class 4A quarterfinals for the ninth consecutive year and is looking for its 23rd Top 28 appearance. Tioga, meanwhile, has what is believed to be the school’s first berth in the quarterfinals and has never advanced to the Top 28.
But the two District 3-4A powers share a similar motivation tonight (Friday) when they travel to face the teams that knocked them out of last year’s playoffs.
No. 3 Peabody (28-5) will face 11th-seeded Northside High, which nipped the Warhorses, 54-52, in last season’s semifinals. No. 5 Tioga (30-4) gets another crack at defending champion St. Thomas More High, the No. 4 seed that knocked the Indians out in last year’s second round.
There’s plenty of history between Peabody and Northside as the two teams have met in the Top 28 five of the past 10 seasons, and Warhorses coach Charles Smith said the two programs are similar in that they have a “constant flow of athletes.”
The Vikings (21-10) are led by the 6-foot-4 forward duo of Gerard Andrus and Paul McZeal along with 5-10 guard Jonathan Delacroix.
Northside started slowly, losing five of its first 10 games, but that could be attributed to a brutal schedule that included games against Washington-Marion, Landry-Walker, St. Augustine and Tioga — four of the top six teams in Class 4A. The Vikings lost two of their first three district games, but have now won nine in a row, including a victory over STM in the regular-season finale.
“They struggled starting off, but they’re starting to jell now,” Smith said.
Peabody is coming off an overtime victory over Neville in a game that the Warhorses admittedly played poorly. Smith said he thought the Warhorses tensed up and pressed a little bit, which led to too many missed shots and mistakes. It’s not something he expects they will repeat tonight.