Fort Smith Northside's victory over the Conway Lady Cats on Tuesday created the tightest of knots in the 7A Central girls race.
Conway, Northside and North Little Rock reached the turn of the conference race with 6-1 league records.
And it's the most perfect of triangle ties: Conway beat North Little Rock, then North Little Rock beat Northside, then Northside beat Conway. And the margin of victory was razor thin, games decided by a possession of two.
Examine the overall records: Conway (19-2), Northside (18-2), North Little Rock (17-3).
I'll make the call right now. If some team other than Conway, Northside, North Little Rock or Fayetteville (15-3) wins the 7A state girls title, it will be an upset of extraordinary proportions. Those four teams seem to have created clear separation from everyone else.
There may be another team capable of pulling a single upset, but none besides those four seems to have sustaining power over the course of a state tournament.
No surprise. You'd have to go back a few years in the record book to find one or two of those teams not involved in the state championship game.
It sets the stage for February madness that could lead to mayhem in March.
It's easy to imagine either of those power four winning a state title. It's almost s coin flip.
Conway may have a slight advantage going into the final conference games because it has both North Little Rock and Northside at home. Northside has to go to both Conway and North Little Rock during the stretch run.
A loss by the top three to anybody else in the conference would be fatal to title hopes and would monumentally affect state seeding.
When state seeding comes around, it may be important for any team to stay away from North Little Rock as long as possible because the Lady Charging Wildcats host the early rounds of the state tournament before the championship games swing to Hot Springs.
However, all three of those teams (and throw in Fayetteville from 7A West) are close in talent that a home court advantage might not be as significant as it might seem. North Little Rock has already won at Fort Smith and Conway has a already won at North Little Rock.
Prepare yourself. The state 7A girls title will be decided by a couple of bounces, a few shots, a break or two on a calll, a rebound or turnover at a key time or a leading scorer getting in foul trouble.
In election terms, things are too close to call.
The top teams are 1A, 1B, 1C and 1D. The order is anybody's guess.
Sports editor/columnist David McCollum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @dmaclcd