There's nothing normal about today's Division 7-6A girls basketball openers at Hattiesburg.
When top seeds meet No. 4 seeds, the No. 1 seed is usually a heavy favorite.
It's not so when rivals Gulfport and Harrison Central duel at 7 p.m.
When the regular season play ended, all four girls teams in Division 7-6A each finished with identical 3-3 records within the division. Seeding was then decided by point differential, meaning Harrison Central (16-10) ended up as the No. 1 seed and Gulfport (16-10) as the 4 seed.
The other matchup sends No. 3 seed Hancock against No. 2 Hattiesburg on the Lady Tigers' home court at 4 p.m.
Division tournaments open tonight at Hattiesburg (7-6A), St. Martin (8-6A), West Harrison (7-5A), Pascagoula (8-5A), Bay High (8-4A) and Tylertown (8-3A). Tonight's games at all sites are elimination affairs.
Championship games, girls and boys, will be held Friday.
'I've never in my 30 years of coaching seen a four-way tie for first place,'' Gulfport coach Donny Fuller said. "Everyone swept someone. Everyone got swept. Every one split a series. All the matchups (tonight) are between the teams that split with each other.''
In other words, the season will come to an end for two good teams tonight.
"Two of the top teams will stay home after tonight,'' Harrison Central coach Nancy Ladner said. "Our district is so strong.''
Fuller knows Gulfport has to do two things: slow down Red Rebelette guard Jazzmun Holmes and take advantage of Gulfport's height advantage.
"One key is Jazzmun Holmes,'' Fuller said. "You can't stop her but you can slow her down. She got something like 26 or 24 points at their place but we played better defense at our place.
"So it will be their quickness against our size. We need to finish our plays inside, do the little things like block out...''
Ladner said that Harrison Central has to keep playing good defense, and show a killer instinct in the second half.
"We need to come out and play our game,'' Ladner said. "Our strength is defense. If we play our game we should come out on top.
"When we last played them, we had a lead in the third quarter. We need to finish the game, handle the situation.''
While most of the 1-4 pairings weigh heavily to the tops seeds tonight, there are several good 2-3 matchups.
Biloxi and D'Iberville are seeded No. 2 and No. 3, respectively in the boys side of the 8-6A Tournament at St. Martin. D'Iberville won the first meeting with Biloxi but the Indians have played well in the stretch run, including a win over the Warriors.
"We talked to the guys that now it is all about advancing,'' Biloxi coach Seber Windham said. "D'Iberville has a good team. They have confidence after beating us. Our kids are confident. We've been trying to improve and doing it.''
Other good No. 2 vs. No. 3 matchups tonight are Harrison Central-Hattiesburg boys at 7-6A tourney, D'Iberville-Biloxi girls at 8-6A tourney, Gautier vs. George County boys in the 8-5A tourney, and both Stone-Picayune boys/girls matchups at the 7-5A tourney.
St. Patrick faces Sumrall in 8-3A Tournament at Tylertown, with Irish looking for first trip to state playoffs since 2010.
The girls South State playoffs begin next Monday with the boys games next Tuesday.