---- — By The Daily Item
MIFFLINBURG -- It was years in the making and, because of a scheduling backlog, it didn't quite work out as planned.
Nevertheless, the Pennsylvania Heartland Athletic Conference is ready to showcase its talent with the first of what are intended to be annual HAC all-division girls and boys basketball tournaments.
The girls and boys semifinals are scheduled for tonight and Thursday, respectively, in the Mifflinburg Intermediate School, according to Mifflinburg Athletic Director Eldon Hoy. Championships for boys and girls will be held Saturday night at Williamsport High.
The initial plan a little more than a year ago was for the three division champions and a wild card to compete in the tourney. But scheduling conflicts, most of them the result of snowstorms, forced the hands of the HAC tournament committee members.
On the girls side, the HAC Division I regular-season champion will not be determined until Friday night. Had Milton not lost to Shamokin on Monday night, the Black Panthers would have entered the tournament as the D-1 champion. Instead, records through Monday were used to seed the tournament.
In the semifinals No. 1 seed Mount Carmel will meet No. 4 Danville at 6 p.m., followed by No. 2 Benton versus No. 3 Shamokin at 7:30.
In Thursday's semifinals, the 6 p.m. contest features No. 1 seed Loyalsock, the HAC-II champ, vs. No. 4 St. John Neumann, the HAC-III winner. At 7:30, No. 2 Danville, the HAC-I champ, will take on No. 3 Lewisburg.
The girls and boys winners will play their title games at 6 and 7:30, respectively, in Williamsport.
The other option that got the most consideration, according to committee member Greg Sacavage of Mount Carmel, was to let the games play out and wait for the Friday night results to get the four teams. Had that happened, Sacavage said, the tournament would have moved into next week, but teams would have been playing both HAC tournament and District 4 playoff games in the same week.
Tickets for the tournament games will cost $6 for adults and $3 for students.