The holiday tournaments are in the books, capping what was an entertaining first half of the high school basketball season. There was no shortage of quality basketball played right here in the tri-county area during the past two months. We have surprise teams that are on the rise, and we have great teams that are primed to contend for regional and state titles.
It was an exciting start, but the real fun begins now with the start of the second half of the season. Here’s a few things to keep an eye on as our local teams begin their stretch runs:
- Will any of the boys teams seperate themselves from the pack in Class 6A, Area 15? This is arguably the toughest area in the state from top to bottom. No. 1 Bob Jones, No. 7 Florence, No. 10 Austin and unranked Decatur all have talented teams capable of going far in the postseason. Austin is currently 2-1 against Area 15 opponents, but the Black Bears looked out of sync while going 0-2 in the Huntsville Times Classic. Decatur, on the other hand, appears to be on the rise, and the Red Raiders’ lineup will be getting a huge boost in the coming weeks when starting post player Kendrick Cowan returns from a hand injury. Keep an eye on this race, because the two teams that advance out of the Area 15 tournament could very well be playing in the Northwest Regional final.
- Contenders, contenders and more contenders. That’s what we have with our local girls teams. The area is rich with talented teams this season. The unfortunate part is that several of these teams are in the same classification. In Class 5A, Brewer, Athens and Lawrence County all have teams capable of making it to the Final Four. There’s a similar situation in Class 3A, where Clements, West Morgan and Danville all reside in the same brutal area. Which teams will break through? Who knows? There’s not a wide gap between these teams. But one thing is certain, though. The odds that there will be a local team representing both classifications in the Final Four are very good.
- The quality girls basketball doesn’t stop in the classifications mentioned above. Class 6A No. 5 Austin is having its best season since 2005-06, while R.A. Hubbard, led by junior superstar Alex Gholston, appears primed to compete for a second straight Class 1A state title.
- Speaking of state title contenders, how about the Tanner boys? Currently going about 10 deep, the Class 2A No. 1 Rattlers cruised through December. Matthew Hines, Greg Maclin and company practically have everyone back from last season’s championship team, and the Rattlers have lived up to the preseason hype.
- A couple surprise teams emerged in the area during the first half of the season. On the boys side, Class 4A Priceville (14-2) and Class 3A Elkmont (9-5) are off to their best starts in years. Class 4A West Limestone (12-4) has done the same thing on the girls side. Will these remarkable runs continue? I wouldn’t bet against them, so don’t be surprised when these three are playing in the Northwest Regional in February.
- Speaking of the Northwest Regional, two local Class 4A boys teams have that week circled. These two teams also feature two of the best players you’ve probably never seen. East Lawrence guard Orlando Davis is fantastic. Averaging 25 points and 10 rebounds per game, he’s definitely one of the most entertaining players in tri-county area. West Limestone forward Preston Herring, an Austin Peay signee, isn’t too shabby himself. If you’ve never seen this kid play, then head to a local gym and check him out. You won’t be disappointed.
So many storylines. So much good basketball. Watching all of this play out is going to be entertaining, and that’s a gurantee.
Posted in Athens, Austin, Basketball, Bob Jones, Brewer, Clements, Decatur, East Lawrence, Elkmont, Florence, Tanner, Uncategorized, West Limestone, West Morgan
Tis the season for basketball. With the holidays comes tournament hoops. Dozens of high school basketball tournaments are scheduled to take place in north Alabama during the holiday break, and one of the bigger events is already in full swing.
The Huntsville Times Ladies Classic tipped off Wednesday at Bob Jones, with three local teams advancing to the quarterfinals. Brewer will play Buckhorn today at 1 p.m. Thursday, and Austin will play Athens at 2:30 p.m. (the game time had to be pushed back an hour since Athens City Schools are still in session).
Because all three of these teams are on the same side of the bracket, there’s a good chance one of them will advance to the championship game. That semifinals is scheduled for Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
Decatur High's Josh Matthews ran nine times for 60 yards in Friday night's 23-3 win over Athens. (Decatur Daily photo by Brennen Smith)
Quickie recap: After trailing 3-0 at the half, Class 6A Decatur regrouped for four second-half scores in a 23-3 win against 5A Athens. The win snapped a two-game losing skid for the Red Raiders.
Statistical leaders: Peyton Littrell (Decatur), 5 catches, 96 yards; Josh Matthews (Decatur) 9 carries, 60 yards; Will Laughlin (Decatur) 10-14, 130 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs; Calvin Tolliver (Athens), 5 rushes, 50 yards.
Quotable: “We didn’t make one adjustment at halftime other than trying to adjust some attitudes. It wasn’t pretty in here (the locker room). We were in our own way. We were stopping ourselves with everything we were doing. Not to take anything away from them because they had a good plan and their kids played aggressively, but our guys had to just do what they were coached to do. That was the biggest thing.” — Decatur head coach Jere Adcock
Storylines for tonight’s game at Ogle Stadium:
- This game will serve as a final tune-up for both teams before the postseason arrives next week. Decatur finished fourth in Class 6A, Region 8, and Athens was the fourth qualifier in 5A, Region 8 after J.O. Johnson was ordered to forfeit all its wins.
- Both teams are coming off losses. Decatur has lost two straight against Hazel Green in Week 9 and Bob Jones last week. Athens lost to county rival East Limestone last week.
- Athens and Decatur renewed their rivalry last year, with Decatur winning 34-7 in the teams’ first game since 2007. Decatur leads the overall series 56-25-2.
– posted by Michael Cummings
Quick-hit recap: Austin High used its playmakers effectively and efficiently Friday night in a dominant 42-14 win over Athens. The Black Bears piled up 518 yards of offense and held the Golden Eagles to only 154.\
Quickie stats: Seth Lynch, Austin: 9 receptions, 155 yards, 3 TDs; 13 carries, 107 yards, 1 TD.
Chris Sparkman, Austin: 23-for-32, 232 yards, 3 TDs.
Quotable: “We feel like if we can get our athletes the ball in space, we’ve got a good chance to score.”
– Austin coach Jeremy Perkins
— posted by Michael Cummings
Athens visits Austin tonight in a non-region matchup of Decatur-area powers.
Follow me after the jump for our viewing guide.
— posted by Michael Cummings
Hartselle dominated Athens in a 23-0 victory Friday night at Golden Eagle Stadium, and there’s plenty to talk about. Follow me past the jump for a few kneejerk reactions to what was an intriguing game.
— posted by Michael Cummings
Hartselle 23, Athens 0
Quick-hit recap: Hartselle made a smooth transition to a new starting backfield with 268 rushing yards in a dominant shutout win at Athens. A year after all-state quarterback Will Lang and all-state running back Malcolm Fossett led the Tigers to the Class 5A semifinals, new starting quarterback Deacon Aldridge and new starting running back Blake Slayton both rushed for more than 100 yards to keep up the winning. The defense pitched a nearly perfect game, limiting Athens and its own new-look backfield to 27 rushing yards.
Statistical quick hits: Aldridge rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. He used his athletic ability to extend plays and make defenders miss on quarterback options. He scored Hartselle’s first touchdown on a 37-yard run on fourth-and-10 late in the first half.
Slayton rushed 11 times for 113 yards. His longest carry went for 47 yards late in the second half as Hartselle’s experienced offensive line wore down Athens.
Quotable: “It’s like coach (Bob Godsey) said at halftime. ‘That was a pretty good first half, but it’s got to be better. You’ve got to get better every play.’ And we did. We got better every play.”
— Hartselle senior center Will Swann. The Tigers led 10-0 at halftime.
— posted by Michael Cummings
Hartselle travels to Athens tonight for a matchup of traditional Class 5A powerhouses. Both teams made the playoffs last season, but both also have plenty of holes to fill this year.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Athens’ Golden Eagle Stadium. Follow me after the jump for a few quick thoughts on what should be an entertaining game.
– posted by Cody Whitlock
Austin High and Athens meet tonight in a non-region game that will establish much-needed momentum for the winner.
The 6A Black Bears haven’t won since Week 2 against Huffman and have since been outscored 64-7 in losses to Hewitt-Trussville and Oxford. Austin badly needs a win this week to build some confidence heading into a second-half schedule that includes games against fifth-ranked Gasden City and No. 10 Clay-Chalkville.
Class 5A Athens enters the game at 2-2, but both losses came against top-ranked Russellville and third-ranked Hartselle. Tonight’s game will be Stephen Rivers’ first game against his former team since the QB transferred to Athens before the start of last season. Rivers, right, quarterbacked Austin to its most recent playoff appearance in 2008.
Athens QB Stephen Rivers
This one’s guaranteed to be a good one. The series hasn’t been played since 2005, and, with Decatur-Hartselle across the county line at Ogle Stadium, the area’s four major football powers are playing against one another on the same night. It’ll happen again in Week 10, when Austin meets Hartselle and Decatur takes on Athens.