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Sulligent wants to develop Alabama-Mississippi rivalry




The Sulligent High School basketball coaches have visions of grandeur when it comes to the Blue Devil Classic. 


Sulligent boys coach Tommy Chism and girls coach Ronnie Hubbert would like to expand the one-day classic and have teams from Alabama play teams from Mississippi. 


The inaugural Blue Devil Classic will tip off Saturday with the Caledonia and Baldwyn boys from Mississippi, and Sulligent, Curry, Dora, and Hamilton boys and girls from Alabama. 


"What I''m trying to get started is an Alabama-Mississippi Challenge," Chism said. "I''d like to get it to be a two- or three-day deal and have an odd number of games, so if Alabama wins four games and Mississippi wins three games we could say Alabama beat Mississippi so there''s a little bit of bragging rights." 


Boys games will match Curry against Hamilton at 1 p.m., Sulligent against Caledonia at 4 p.m., and Dora against Baldwyn at 7 p.m., while girls games will match Curry against Hamilton at 2:30 p.m. and Sulligent against Dora at 5:30 p.m. 


"I''d love to see it expand and bring in really good teams," Hubbert said. "All the schools that are coming in are bigger than us (larger classification). That just makes us better. Even the games we''re not playing in we get to see good ball. That helps make us better, too." 


Sulligent played in an Alabama-Mississippi Challenge in Oxford in the past and Chism liked the format. 


Both Sulligent teams are 4-1. Both lost their first games Monday to Winfield. 


The Sulligent boys beat Hatley, Berry, South Lamar, and Marion County before losing to Winfield. 


"We''ve got a scrappy bunch of kids," Chism said. "We don''t have a superstar. We have a different guy every night. We''ve got three post players that have been pretty good for us. For around here, they''re good-sized kids." 


The Blue Devils are led up front by Dakota Carruth (6-foot-4, 210 pounds), Tony Johnson (6-2, 210), and Ishmael Riggins (6-1, 210). 


The Sulligent girls have wins against the same opponents as the boys. 


"We play 15 kids," Hubbert said. "We''re 15 strong. We run them in and out. They all get up and down the floor and play defense. Even in the loss to Winfield we had no less than 11 girls score." 


Sophomore Montana Hawkins has scored in double figures every game, and Tori Lowe has scored 18 points twice for the Lady Blue Devils. 


n Pickens Academy plays in Southern Academy Tournament: The Pickens Academy boys and girls will play in the Southern Academy Tournament in Greensboro, Ala., today and Saturday. 


Both teams play Morgan Academy today, with the girls tipping off at 3:30 p.m. and the boys starting at 4:45 p.m. 


"I''m glad we''re playing Morgan," Pickens Academy girls coach Wade Goodman said. "Morgan is a 3A school. They''re one of the bigger schools in the state. I definitely think it will help us find out where we are." 


Last year, Pickens Academy played in the tournament and beat Tuscaloosa Academy and lost to Southern Academy in the championship game. 


This season, the Pickens Academy girls are 5-1. Seniors Tate Fuller, Catherine Johnson, and Callie Minor are the leaders. Johnson is the team''s leading scorer (17 points per game). 


"We''ve got three good seniors," Goodman said. "I''ve got three good seniors that have been with me for three years. I kind of knew all along this was going to be a good year because any time you practice or open the gym door those three are going to be there." 


Today''s other first-round games match Southern Academy against Marengo Academy in boys and girls contests. 


On Saturday, the boys consolation game is at 9:15 a.m. and the championship game is at 11:45 a.m., while the girls consolation game is at 8 a.m. and the championship game is at 10:30 a.m. 


Goodman said the games are scheduled so early so people can get home to watch the University of Alabama play Florida in the Southeastern Conference Championship football game. 




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