Hoops season heats up
Four teams in Franklin County have already claimed a county or area championship this season, and three of them are favorites to win their area tournaments.
Last month the fifth-ranked Red Bay girls won their tenth consecutive county championship and the regular-season Class 2A, Area 16 title. The No. 5 Lady Tigers will rely on the inside presence of Brittany Scott and Chelsey Williams and the marksmanship of Morgan Duncan, the team's leading 3-point shooter, as they host the area tournament Feb. 7 and 9.
The Red Bay boys, led by the scoring trio of Grant Fancher, Justin Page and Derrick Miller, repeated as county champions this season and will try to knock off No. 1 seed Mars Hill Friday night in the opening round of the area tournament.
Top scorer Martha Billingham leads a deep Belgreen girls squad that is carrying some momentum into the postseason after posting an upset victory over Red Bay last Thursday. The Lady Bulldogs won the Fayette Lions Club Christmas tournament and the Class 1A, Area 16 regular-season title, which allowed them to host the area tournament. The top-seeded Lady Bulldogs received a first-round bye and will play Waterloo tomorrow night.
No. 2 Russellville remains the only undefeated boys team in the state as the Golden Tigers feature six players – guards Jordan Hammond, Cory Trapp, Siran Winston, post players Terence Smith and Jermaine Bates and center Nate Dunston – who are capable of leading the team in scoring on any given night.
Russellville (26-0) has already won the TimesDaily Classic, WQSB Holiday Classic and the regular-season Class 5A, Area 16 championship. The Golden Tigers will host the area and play against fourth-seeded Decatur Friday night.
Earlier this week a coach asked me to mention that the top two teams will advance from each area tournament to a sub-regional game on Feb. 14 (girls) or Feb. 15 (boys), and the location and times of those games will depend on the records of the participating teams' records.
The sub-regional winner will qualify for Northwest Regional tournament at Wallace State in Hanceville (Feb. 19-23), and the regional winner will advance to the Final Four in Birmingham (Feb. 25-29). For updated schedules and rankings, visit the Alabama High School Athletic Association's Web site at www.ahsaa.com.
Kim West is sports editor for The Franklin County Times. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (256) 332-1881, ext. 30.