To bye or not to bye? Area girls' hoop coaches seem to prefer rest, time to prepare

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Photo - Air Academy senior Katelin Gallegos (11) defends against Discovery Canyon senior Emma List (10) in the third quarter. The Air Academy Kadets hosted the Discovery Canyon Thunder in girls' basketball on Friday, January 27, 2017 at Air Academy High School. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing
Air Academy senior Katelin Gallegos (11) defends against Discovery Canyon senior Emma List (10) in the third quarter. The Air Academy Kadets hosted the Discovery Canyon Thunder in girls' basketball on Friday, January 27, 2017 at Air Academy High School. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing

To the surprise of Phil Roiko, his Air Academy girls' basketball team will get a few extra days off to hopefully get things right.

That's thanks in part to the Ratings Percentage Index, a formula that, for the first time this season, is determining postseason fields for all classes.

"I love that we have the RPI, but you're asking a person who got a top-four seed that didn't think they would," said Roiko, whose No. 4 Kadets (19-4), despite dropping two of their last three, earned a first-round bye and won't play until second-round play commences Friday. "I'm definitely happy and pleasantly surprised. We'll take the time to work on stuff. This will be a great opportunity to practice and work on things to get better."

The 5A and 4A playoff brackets were unveiled Sunday, seeding both fields by virtue of RPI and eliminating the human element, except to rearrange first-round matchups to avoid league rivalries.

In 5A, Doherty (22-1) secured a first-round bye by earning a No. 7 seed, as did No. 13 Pine Creek (18-5). Along with Air Academy, No. 7 Mesa Ridge (19-4) and No. 12 Discovery Canyon (16-7) earned a few extra days off in the 4A bracket.

Falcon could have been included in that list, taking a five-game winning streak into its regular-season finale Friday at Discovery Canyon. But the Falcons struggled, dropping a 42-35 decision that dropped them out of the top 16 and into Tuesday's first-round schedule.

"I like the extra time," said Falcon coach Tarike Adams, whose team plays host to Ponderosa (11-12) on Tuesday. "That gives you a little more time to prepare. We have to approach it like another home game. I had been watching the RPI over the last couple of days. There was a chance for a bye, but we needed to win and take care of business. That would have helped our cause, but we're good. Everyone has to come out and play."

In the two previous seasons, 4A only admitted 32 teams into the postseason, giving eight of the top teams a chance to host back-to-back rounds to start the journey to state.

Now, it's back to 48, like 5A, giving more teams a chance to play into late February and possibly into March.

The odds are stacked in 4A. In 2014, only two of the 16 teams that earned first-round byes lost in second-round action.

"I like 48 getting in," Adams said. "It gives us a few more teams in there. I don't know why it went to 32, but this is the way to go."

In the eight-school Pikes Peak Athletic Conference, only Sand Creek did not make the 48-team field. Vista Ridge made the 5A field, along with Colorado Springs Metro League members Rampart, Liberty and Palmer.