— posted by Mike Cummings
The sub-regional basketball playoffs begin tonight with girls competing for spots in next week’s regional tournaments. Here are a few things to watch for if you make it out to one of the games.
No. 8 Austin travels to Harvest to play No. 2 Sparkman for the third time this season. Sparkman won both regular-season games in overtime. The Lady Senators have lost only once this season, to Class 3A No. 1 Madison Academy, a team some coaches think might be the best girls team in the state in any classification. Austin has come close to beating highly ranked opponents several times this season. This is their chance to take the next step and advance to the Northwest Regional for the first time since 2006. If they’re going to do it, look for big games from Teosha Ray inside and Delisa Madry outside.
Brewer hosts Walker tonight looking for another trip to regionals. The Lady Patriots should have more than enough to knock off Walker and advance to their fifth straight Northwest Regional. Elsewhere, Lawrence County hosts Lee-Huntsville and Athens travels to J.O. Johnson. Look for at least one of the two to advance.
Ardmore, which has a talented team, got a tough draw at Deshler, which has made regionals seemingly every year since the tournament started. Still, the Lady Tigers have solid players in Callie Steadman, Callie Bryant and Elizabeth Hodges. Look for them to make a game of it. Elsewhere West Limestone hosts Brooks and Priceville travels to Haleyville. The area should get a couple more regional participants out of these games.
Clements should have no trouble with Sheffield, but Danville will have its hands full with perennial power Lauderdale County, which has made regionals every year since the format was introduced. For what it’s worth, Lauderdale County lost to Clements in a blowout in the regular season, while Danville split its regular-season meetings with the Lady Colts. Clements won the Class 2A state title last year and is in search of its third straight (and third all-time) regional berth. Danville is looking for its fourth regional berth and first since 2008.
In perhaps the best matchup of the round, No. 2 Tanner hosts No. 9 Hatton. Tanner won Area 15 while Hatton was upset on its home court in the Area 16 finals by Lexington. Hatton’s high-scoring Jordan Johnson has been recovering from a leg injury, so keep an eye on her. Tanner’s stars have been in good form lately, especially Lauren Harris, who had 15 points in the first quarter of the Lady Rattlers’ win over Westminster in the area finals. Sierra Sales remains a force scoring, rebounding and passing the ball. Should be an excellent game.
R.A. Hubbard hosts Hackleburg and Addison travels to Berry.