NEW WAVERLY — There is no doubt the next three games are the most important of the season for the New Waverly boys basketball team.

Having pretty much sewn up at least first or second place in District 23-2A, the Bulldogs (19-6 overall, 6-1 in league play) are heading down the home stretch, and two of their final three contests, are against the other two playoff bound schools — Onalaska and Trinity.

The district championship could be on the line when New Waverly clashes with undefeated Onalaska on Friday (the Wildcats handed the Dogs their only loss). A victory over Onalaska would put both teams in a tie atop the district standings with one game left on the schedule.

But New Waverly coach Bill Goffney isn’t concerned about Friday, he wants to make sure his guys aren’t looking past the task at hand. The Dogs have to take care of business tonight when they host a young but dangerous Woodville squad.

A slip up now could cost New Waverly a lot more than a shot at the title.

“Our next three games were close the first time we played these teams,” Goffney said. “We have to win out in order to get a piece of the championship. We have to get it done (tonight) against Woodville before we even start focusing on Onalaska. One loss could cost us the district championship, and another could cost us a better spot in the playoffs. That’s the reality of the situation.”

The Bulldog players are also aware of the importance of this final week. They have been hard at work all season to get to this moment.

Goffney gave them the day off on Saturday to get some rest to make sure their legs were fresh for this pivotal stretch of the season. Then it was back in the gym and back to work for the Dogs.

“Coach has been working us pretty hard, and we have had some good practices,” freshman Joseph Carrington said. “We have picked it up lately and are where we need to be. We know how important this week is, especially with Onalaska and Trinity. But we are staying focused on Woodville because we have to get past them first.”

New Waverly has had its share of ups and downs, but the guys know what has to be done to reach their goals. Earlier in the season, the Dogs battled with bigger schools to get the experience they needed for the kind of scenario that looms in the balance right now.

“There have been times that we didn’t play the way we are capable of this year,” senior Erik Luke said. “We have gotten big leads and relaxed and let teams get back into games that they shouldn’t have. But we have worked on that and we are ready for this challenge.”

Even if the Bulldogs can knock off Woodville and Onalaska, their final matchup is with Trinity, and the Tigers would love to spoil things for New Waverly.

Trinity doesn’t have any room for mistakes right now, a loss to Corrigan last week gave the Tigers four district losses and little margin for error in the race for the final playoff spot.

Everything lies in the Bulldogs’ hands. Three games is all that stands in between them and the title of champions.

And that’s what New Waverly wants to be.

“It’s great that we have already secured a playoff spot, but we want to be the district champions. That is our goal,” senior Ryan Abbott said. “We have a great team from our starters to the bench. Everybody does their part.”