February 12, 2009
The Pickens County High School boys basketball team will encounter a peculiar predicament at 7 p.m. Friday when it plays at R.C. Hatch in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 2A Central Sub-Regional Tournament.
It will be the first time in 15 years that the Pickens County Tornadoes will have to travel for a sub-regional tournament game.
Pickens County had a streak of 14 consecutive area tournament championships snapped Monday when it lost to Hale County 59-57 in the championship game of the Class 2A, Area 7 Tournament.
Not only will the Tornadoes (22-4) have to travel, but they will have to play at two-time defending state champion R.C. Hatch, which has won the state title four of the past six years.
"It''s a definite awkward situation," said Pickens County coach Russ Wallace, who''s in his 15th season at the school and his 12th as the coach. "Hopefully we can refocus and get back to playing the basketball we know we can play. We took a good step toward that (Tuesday) in practice."
In other boys games Friday, South Lamar plays at Meek in the Class A Northwest Sub-Regional and Lamar County plays at Cherokee and Sulligent plays host to Mars Hill in the Class 2A Northwest Sub-Regional. All games tip off at 7 p.m.
In girls games, Pickens County plays at St. Jude in the Class 2A Northwest Sub-Regional at 7 p.m. today, and Sulligent plays host to Mars Hill in the Class 2A Northwest Sub-Regional at 5:30 p.m. Friday.
The sub-regional games are must win games to advance to the regionals.
The Pickens County boys lost to Hale County after beating them twice during the regular season.
"We talked as a team and they came out here and responded real well in practice (Tuesday)," Wallace said. "Hopefully that is going to carry over. If we go down there focused and we don''t let the environment and surroundings go to our heads, we feel like we''ve got a good shot at winning."
While the Tornadoes are confident they can win, they realize it will be a challenge beating the defending state champion on its home floor.
"It''s going to be an interesting situation," Wallace said. "The environment is going to be something our kids have never experienced before. There will be 800 people packed all the way around the gym. It will be a fun place to play. I just hope our young kids will go in there fundamentally focused on what they need to do."
Pickens County has lost to R.C. Hatch in the postseason four of the past six years.
The South Lamar and Lamar County boys also missed opportunities to play at home by losing area tournament championship games at home.
South Lamar suffered a 65-40 loss to Berry in the championship game of the Class A, Area 10 Tournament, while Lamar County dropped a 66-61 decision to Sulligent in the Class 2A, Area 11 Tournament.
South Lamar (14-9) has the task of trying to beat Meek (24-2), which is No. 3 in Class A.
"They''re good," South Lamar coach Tony Seals said. "They''ve got a point guard (Sean Hiller) like ours (Deshawn Davis). He''s really good.
"They''re getting the ball down the court. They can shoot. (Hiller) is their point guard. He makes them work. He''s real aggressive with the ball. He''s real quick with the ball. He''s going to take the ball to the basket. He''s going to make someone help (defensively) and he finds the open man."
Lamar County (19-7) bids to get back on track after making only 22 of 42 free throws in the loss to Sulligent that ended a five-game winning streak.
"We''re playing an athletic group this Friday," Lamar County coach Vance Herron said. "We''ve got to pick up some things we haven''t been doing well here of late and that''s shooting free throws and getting on the boards like we''re supposed to."
"Our kids are going to play hard. There''s no doubt about that, but we''re just not knocking down free throws like we need to to ice ballgames."
Lamar County was ranked No. 8 in Class 2A before losing to Sulligent.