Yuma boys set to be back for playoffs

Yuma High School’s boys basketball players were at their traditional team lunch last Friday when the word came — the rest of their regular season would be canceled due to a confirmed COVID-19 case.
Coach Dave Sheffield was just getting ready to go across the street to the meal when he was informed of the determination.

The players who participate in the varsity practice then were informed at the end of the school day that they would have to be in quarantine until early next week.
“I’m tired of seeing that look on kids’ faces,” Sheffield said. “It’s terrible.”
It was one year ago this week that the Indians’ regional was moved from Vail to Evergreen due to Colorado’s first COVID-19 case being confirmed in Eagle County. Then, one week later, the Indians were two wins away from a third straight Class 2A title when they received word again — the rest of all the state tournaments were canceled.
So Sheffield and his players, and staff, have dealt directly plenty of times with the novel coronavirus impacts.
He noted, though, that the silver lining is it appears the Indians still will be seeded at least in the top eight of the 24-team playoffs that begin next week.
That is critical, because the top eight get a first-round bye, with their first games being Thursday, March 11.
That happens to be the day the Indians will be eligible to play a game again. They can begin practicing again early next week, but according to the “guidance” in regards to quarantine and athletics, they cannot play a game until Thursday.
“Just get us in the top eight and we’ll take our chances,” Sheffield said.
Four metrics are being used to determine the 24-team playoff fields in all classifications — Rating Percentage Index, MaxPreps rankings, the Packard rankings, and the coaches Top 15 poll put out weekly by CHSAANow.com.
Teams entered the shortened Season B needing to play at least seven games to be eligible to qualify for the postseason. The Indians accomplished that with 10 games, sitting at 7-3 and on a seven-game winning streak.
They are looking strong in all four seeding criteria as well. Yuma is No. 4 in the updated MaxPreps rankings that came out Tuesday. The Indians are No. 2 in the Packard rankings, No. 7 in the RPI and No. 6 in the coaches poll.
Sheffield said according to his calculations, that puts Yuma solidly as the fourth seed for now, with Sanford in the fifth slot. It appears Yuma County-rival Wray is well on its way to claiming the top seed for the playoffs.
The playoff fields will be announced officially Monday, March 8, with the 9-24 seeds playing Tuesday, March 9. The winners advance to the Sweet 16 on March 11 at the top seeds. All games will be played at the higher seeds through the semifinals. The championship games will be held at World Arena in Colorado Springs March 19-20.
The Indians could have finished as high as No. 2 if they could have finished the regular season, and had won each of their games.
They were supposed to host Peyton, ranked second in the RPI and third in the coaches poll, last Friday, then make a trip to No. 13 Wiggins, 14th in the RPI, on Saturday. This upcoming Friday they were set to host top-ranked Wray, which is No. 1 in all metrics, for what likely would have been for the LPAA regular season title, which the Indians have won for three consecutive years, then finish the regular season Saturday at Class 3A Platte Valley.
Speaking of the LPAA regular-season title, it was not clear earlier this week how that was going to be determined. Wray will finish 7-0 in league play, while Yuma is 6-0. The Indians’ league winning streak will stay stuck at 30 until next season. Undefeated Wray, which knocked off highly-ranked Limon last Saturday, will close the regular season Saturday against Class 1A Arickaree/Woodlin.