A grueling stretch of four games in eight days is the goal -- as odd as that sounds -- for seven area private-school basketball teams, as they begin the SCISAA playoffs tonight and Saturday.
Of those seven, the Hilton Head Prep and Thomas Heyward Academy girls teams likely have the best shot of surviving until the championships games, which will be played Feb. 26 at the Sumter County Exhibition Center for all classifications.
The Dolphins (23-5) entered the season looking like the team to beat in Class 3-A after returning most of the key players from last year's championship team, but they suffered four region losses -- two apiece to Pinewood Prep and Northwood Academy -- and likely will have to avenge those losses to repeat as champs. If Prep can reach the semifinals, Northwood Academy probably would await, with the winner likely facing Pinewood Prep in the finals.
The Rebels (18-5) have their eye on getting to the Class 2-A finals for a rematch with Bible Baptist, which handed them their only two region losses. But that probably would require getting past Richard Winn in the quarterfinals and beating Thomas Sumter in the semifinals.
SCISAA basketball playoffs
Class 3-A girls
Hilton Head Prep vs. Ben Lippen, at Pinewood Prep, 6:30 p.m.
Hilton Head Christian at Heathwood Hall, 8 p.m.
Class 2-A girls
Thomas Heyward vs. Marlboro Academy, at Wilson Hall, 5 p.m.
Beaufort Academy vs. Byrnes School, at Wilson Hall, 8 p.m.
Class 3-A boys
Hilton Head Christian vs. Orangeburg Prep, at Porter-Gaud, 1 p.m.
Hilton Head Prep vs. Florence Christian, at Porter-Gaud, 4 p.m.
Class 2-A boys
Thomas Heyward vs. Thomas Sumter, at Sumter County Exhibition Center, 5:30 p.m.