Through the first two months of the season, the Pine Forest Eagles boys basketball team has established itself as the top dog in the area.
But the Eagles have a little bit of company in District 1-6A.
Thanks to Tuesday night's win by Milton over the Eagles, Pine Forest has fallen from the ranks of the unbeaten in District 1-6A play.
And if the last couple of weeks have shown anything, the District 1-6A race will be exciting as the teams sprint past the midway point of the district season.
"I think there's a lot that can change between now and the district tournament," said Pensacola High coach Terrance Hawkins, whose team is 16-5 overall and 7-2 in league play. "I think the parity has been the same for the past three or four years in this district.
"There's not been a team that's been a whole lot better than everyone else. It's come down to the district tournament. And this year should be the same."
Going into Thursday night, the Tigers and Eagles were battling for the top seed in the league tournament, which will be held at Pace High starting on Feb. 4.
Pace upset PHS Thursday night, putting Milton in prime position to pounce for the No. 2 seed.
Milton is just one game out of first place with a 6-3 record in district and two games out of first place.
"I believe the win (over Pine Forest) gave us a boost confidence-wise," Milton coach Hank Hullett said. "Pine Forest is a tremendous team, a very good team. I think being able to hang with them at their place, especially after losing by 24 the first time, it shows that we're getting there.
"I still think Pine Forest and PHS are at the top. PHS is 16-4, and they're a very good team, as well. After that, everybody is kind of jumbled up. I think it's going to be a dogfight."
Milton -- led by Isaiah Jones and DeMichael McQueen -- could be dangerous down the stretch, especially with their football players starting to find their basketball legs.
"Our first two district losses were right after we got the football players back," Hullett said. "It was tough. I remember at one practice we had more guys sitting on the side (nursing injuries) than we had on the court.
"They came straight from football and hit the court running. Early in the season, it was hard to give that effort (we gave last year) because of being injured and not in basketball shape. I think our experience will pay off for the five seniors we have out there."
Dolphins in the mix for 1-5A top spot
A year after finishing runner-up in District 1-5A and pulling off a first-round upset of two-time state champ Tallahassee Rickards, the Gulf Breeze Dolphins still are alive for a state playoff berth.
The Dolphins are 7-7 overall and 3-2 in district play, trailing both Panama City Bay and Rutherford in the league standings. Bay and Rutherford are 3-1 in league play.
Gulf Breeze split with Rutherford -- winning by one at home and losing on the road -- and will play host to Bay in the second round of district play in two weeks.
The District 1-5A tournament will be played at Panama City Arnold, starting on Feb. 5.
Catholic in driver's seat in District 1-4A
The peril of a three-team district is that one loss can ruin your season.
But with one district game remaining, the Catholic Crusaders are sitting pretty, despite having a district loss.
The Crusaders currently are 2-1 in district, and are set to host Walton in a couple of weeks to decide the No. 1 seed in the district tournament. A win in that showdown with Walton would not only lock up that seed, it would clinch another playoff berth for the Crusaders.
With the Walton game at home, as well as the Crusaders hosting the district tournament starting on Feb. 8, the goal is to lock up a first-round home game in the state playoffs.
"I feel like we're playing well right now," Catholic coach Nick Mead said. "Right now, we're in a good spot. They're getting better, working the entire time.
"We're 2-1 in district, and we have an opportunity at home in a couple of weeks to lock up the No. 1 seed and a playoff berth. That No. 1 seed is something we've been working toward the entire season."
District 1-3A just getting under way for PCA
The Pensacola Christian Warriors opened district play in early December with a road loss to the Rocky Bayou Knights.
Since then, the Warriors have been testing themselves in non-district play to get ready for the stretch run, which will begin tonight when PCA hosts North Florida Christian in a 1-3A contest.
The Warriors have three of the final four district games at home, including a Saturday game against Maclay to give the Warriors back-to-back games.
Maclay will host the 1-3A tournament starting on Feb. 8.
Local 1A teams face tough climb to top
The local 1A teams have their work cut out for them down the stretch as two of the top teams in the state reside in area districts.
In District 1-1A, the Central Jaguars are currently battling for second place in the league, which features the state's No. 1 team in Malone.
The Jags -- led by the talented duo of Nick Waters and Zac Wright -- are 11-4 overall and 3-3 in district play. Malone currently leads the league with a perfect 8-0 record in district and 14-1 overall mark.
Over in District 2-1A, the No. 3 ranked Chipley Tigers top the district standings with a perfect 6-0 district mark and 11-3 overall record. Holmes County is neck-and-neck with Chipley for the top spot.
The Northview Chiefs got off to a hot start this season but have cooled down. Theyare in the middle of the pack in the district. Led by Neino Robinson, the Chiefs are 8-5 overall and 2-2 in district, with losses coming to Chipley and Baker.
Central will host the 1-1A tournament, while Jay will host the 2-1A tournament.