Mariner fans can take heart in the fact that the girls varsity basketball team is holding on to the last slot that qualifies for post-season play.
Meanwhile, the Eagles boys team keeps sliding between the third and fifth ranking despite winning its last 12 games.
And why are the Eagle girls ranked seventh and Central eighth when Central has the better win-loss record?
The answer lies in the Heal Point System, a ranking method used by the Maine Principals Association. Even if a team is ranked high enough to know it will get into the playoffs, like the Eagles boys, one spot can mean the difference between having to play the prelim playoff game or getting a bye, or having home court advantage or not, or playing the top-ranked team or the sixth-ranked.
“The Heal Point System is designed to select teams for tournament play on the basis of athletic strength as demonstrated through the regular season schedule,” reads the MPA explanation on its website mpa.cc.
The system is a two-part one. First the preliminary index is calculated by giving varying points for a victory. A win against a Class A team nets 40, a Class B team gets 35, a Class C team garners 30 and a Class D team 25. The points are added up and then divided by the number of games scheduled for the season.
So a victory by the Mariners over the Eagles gets them five more points than against Jonesport-Beals. But a win by the Eagles over the Mariners nets them less than a win against Bucksport.
But this is just the first step, and teams with more preliminary index points are often ranked below those with less.
This is because of the Tournament Index. This index adds up the preliminary indices of the schools from which a team won victories and then divides that sum by the number of scheduled games. The result determines a team’s Tournament Index, and the higher the tournament index, the higher a team’s Heal Point Standing.
Let’s use the Eagles boys as an example, recalling that a Class B win earns 35 points, a Class C win earns 30 points and a Class D win earns 25 points.
The Eagles are scheduled to play 18 games in the Eastern Class C division this season; as of January 30 they were 12-3.
The Eagles tournament index places them in the #4 spot—for now. After all, just one game played can move things around. (See Heal Point System Example)
Making it to the play-offs
For the Eagle boys and girls teams, the top 11 of 16 teams move on to the post season. The top five teams receive a bye for the prelim game.
For the Mariner boys and girls teams, the top 15 of 22 teams move on to the post season, with only the #1 team getting a bye.
The girls playoff prelim games are on February 10; the boys on February 11. Quarterfinals, semifinals and regional finals are scheduled for February 13 through February 21. The state championships will be played on February 28. All games, after the prelim game, are played at the Cross Center in Bangor.