Two local teams still alive
It has been six years since a Franklin County basketball team hoisted a Blue Map trophy, which is awarded to each state champion in the six classifications of the Alabama High School Athletic Association.
The last team to bring home a state championship trophy was the 2002 Belgreen girls team coached by current Russellville girls coach James Bostick, who won one title at Belgreen in Class 1A and two championships at 2A Red Bay. The Lady Bulldogs defeated Spring Garden 68-53 to capture the school's only state title.
In 2003 the Red Bay girls came away with the Red Map trophy, which is awarded to each state runner-up. The Lady Tigers lost to Pisgah 59-53 after beating the Lady Eagles 51-46 for the championship in 2001.
In 2002 the Russellville boys, who won the 2001 TimesDaily Classic tournament, advanced to the Class 5A championship game but the Golden Tigers came up short against Anniston 79-58.
This season there are two teams still standing from Franklin County and both will be making their way down Highway 157 to play in the Northwest Regional tournament today.
Second-ranked Russellville (29-0) is the only undefeated boys teams in the state, and the Golden Tigers have four starters averaging in double figures, including Siran Winston, Cory Trapp, Jermaine Bates and Terence Smith. And the fifth starter, shooting guard Jordan Hammond, is averaging just under 10 points per game.
Russellville has had its way with tournaments this season. The Golden Tigers have won the TimesDaily Classic and WQSB Holiday Classic, plus the regular-season and area tournament championships in Class 5A, Area 16.
The fifth-ranked Red Bay girls are making their first trip to Hanceville since 2003, and the Lady Tigers (23-8) have finished with yet another 20-win season that included the Franklin County championship and the regular-season and tournament championships in Class 2A, Area 16.
Red Bay has an experienced starting five that features seniors Brittany Scott and Chelsey McWilliams in the post, senior Jessica Johnston at point guard and juniors Britan Bolding (shooting guard) and Morgan Duncan (wing) in the backcourt.
Russellville, which plays No. 5 Wenonah at 1:30 p.m. today at Wallace State in Hanceville, is the team to beat in the regional tournament and a heavy favorite to face top-ranked Williamson, the defending 5A champions, in the Final Four in Birmingham.
Red Bay, which plays an unranked but dangerous Tanner team at 3 p.m. today in Hanceville, is finally healthy and hitting its stride. The Lady Tigers are expected to play top-ranked Cold Springs in the regional finals, and if they pull off an upset, they will be headed to their fourth Final Four in eight years.
Kim West is sports editor for The Franklin County Times. She can be reached at email@example.com or (256) 332-1881, ext. 30.