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Familiar West Alabama rivals meet in basketball




Eight members of the Pickens County High School football team don''t have to wait for next season to get revenge for a loss in the state playoffs. 


The players will get a chance for revenge on the basketball court this afternoon when Pickens County plays Reeltown in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 2A Central Regional Tournament. 


The players are looking forward to the opportunity to make up for a 22-6 loss to Reeltown in the semifinals of the state football playoffs on Nov. 27, 2009. 


"It came up as a topic of conversation while we were in the dressing room after we beat Keith (on Saturday)," Pickens County coach Russ Wallace. "It was like, ''We''ve got Reeltown and we owe them something.'' I think they''re going to use it as little bit of a motivational tool. 


"All of my players but one played football, so they all probably share the same feeling." 


Pickens County (23-2) and Reeltown (16-6) are scheduled to tip off at 4:30 p.m. at Alabama State University in Montgomery, Ala. 


In another Class 2A game, Lamar County will plays Tanner at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Northwest Regional at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Ala. 


Not only does Pickens County owe Reeltown for a loss in the football playoffs this season, but it also owes the Rebels for a 15-7 loss on Nov. 21, 2008. 


Wallace said the football playoffs should give his team an idea what to expect today on the basketball court. 


"We''re playing a team that''s got athletes," Wallace said. "They (Pickens County players) know it because they played them in football. It''s not going to be a surprise from an athletic standpoint." 


Reeltown has four players averaging in double figures, led by Rodney O''Neal (15.1 points per game). 


The Rebels have an inside presence in Shaquille Robertson, who averages 9.6 rebounds and 3.7 blocked shots per game. 


"They''re pretty solid," Wallace said. "They''ve got three kids out on the perimeter that can really shoot the three real well. They''re an outside-inside kind of team. They''ve got an inside kid (Robertson) who''s 6-2, 205, and he''s a man and he can score. He''s pretty athletic. I think he was the middle linebacker on their football team." 


Wallace believes defending the 3-pointer will be a key for the Tornadoes. 


"We''re going to have to extend our defense," Wallace said. "We play aggressive man-to-man defense anyway. We''re going to get up on you and contend shots. They like to penetrate and kick out for the 3. They look for the 3. They live off the 3. The big kid tries to dominate the boards and they''ll set a high screen and roll with him every now and then. They cause problems. 


"The one thing we''re going to have on them is they''ve got some 5-9, 5-10 guards that are their shooters and I can put 6-1 LaJuan (Doss) on one of them and a 5-11 (Deion) Curry and a 5-11 Nick Stewart on the others. We''re going to have some size on their guards." 


Doss (13.5 ppg.), Curry (13 ppg), Stewart (12 ppg), and Markeithon Hall (9 ppg) lead Pickens County in scoring. 


n Lamar County vs. Tanner: This is another rivalry that will carry over from the football field. 


The schools will meet on the hardwood Wednesday after meeting in the football playoffs each of the past two seasons. Lamar County claimed a 28-27 overtime victory this season after suffering a 14-7 setback in 2008. 


"The last two years in football have built a good rivalry, so I figure it''s going to carry over into this basketball game," said Lamar County coach Vance Herron, whose team is 16-6. 


Herron expects a good matchup like on the gridiron between Lamar County and Tanner. 


"Tanner is a lot like we are," Herron said. "They''ve got some quickness and they shoot the ball well. They play good defense. It should be an exciting game." 


Herron poked fun at Lamar County''s size by saying, "Jimmy Lann is 6-3 and you have to stack up the rest of the starters on their shoulders to look him in the eyeballs. We''re pretty short." 


Will Franks, who is 5-9, and Marcquis Plant, who is 6-0, lead Lamar County in scoring at 17 ppg., while Lann averages 13 points and 11 rebounds. 


"We''ve sort of exceeded a lot of people''s expectations, but not our own," Herron said. "Some of these kids have been in the program (all three of Herron''s years as head coach) and they''ve fought and scrapped to get here. 


"They play hard and give me everything they''ve got. We''re not big by any means, but we''ve got a big heart. We don''t like to quit."



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