City rivalry goes regional|
Decatur, Austin to meet for 3rd time this season
By Mark Edwards
DAILY Sports Editor
email@example.com · 340-2461
It's Decatur vs. Austin, round III — or Austin vs. Decatur, if you prefer.
As if playing in the Northwest Regionals isn't big enough, the two city rivals have added a little extra spice by advancing to a third meeting. The two boys basketball teams will tip off Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. at Wallace State in Hanceville.
"Is that who we play?" Austin coach Stuart Allen asked with a deadpan delivery Saturday afternoon. "I didn't know that. Is that our opponent?"
Then Allen laughed, unable to keep up the joke.
"I looked at the schedule after the area finals and saw that we could meet at the regionals," he said, "and I figured there was a good chance of us playing again."
They've played two hotly contested games already.
The Red Raiders won 62-53 in a Dec. 10 meeting at Decatur. When the series went to Austin's campus Jan. 15, the Black Bears took a 54-48 victory.
Now comes their first meeting in the Northwest Regionals.
Decatur hasn't advanced this far since 2001 when the Red Raiders finished second in the state. Austin last made the regionals
in 2002 when its season-ending run lasted until the state semifinals.
"This is big for our city," Decatur coach Jamie Lee said Saturday. "It will create a lot of excitement for our city. It's great for our kids and our fans."
The matchup also creates half of what could be the toughest 6A boys regional. Decatur (26-6) enters after completing the regular season ranked second in the state. Austin (23-9) was 10th.
In the other Northwest Regional semifinal, ninth-ranked Sparkman (24-9) will face John Carroll (23-10).
Austin, Decatur and Sparkman tied for the Area 8 regular-season championship. Although John Carroll is unranked, the Cavaliers are the defending state champions and were No. 8 in the next-to-last poll.
The only other regional to have three ranked 6A boys teams is the Southeast with No. 4 Carver-Montgomery, No. 6 Jeff Davis and No. 7 Auburn.
A strong region
"The way it's set up, our regional has a lot of the good teams," Allen said. "It would be nice if the state would take some of the better teams, put them in the Northeast Regional and vice versa.
"Whoever makes it out of our regional has a chance to do something in the Final Four."
Both Decatur and Austin are entering on a roll.
Austin has won 13 of 16 and its last four, including the Area 8 tournament championship over Sparkman 58-46 on Monday.
Decatur has won 10 of 11. The only loss came to Sparkman 48-37 in the area semifinals. However, since then the Red Raiders have beaten Florence 56-53 in the consolation game and fifth-ranked Tuscaloosa County 56-45 in the sub-regional road game.
"We're playing pretty well," Lee said. "There's been a misconception with the public that after a close (47-42) win over Hazel Green and losing to Sparkman that we weren't playing well.
"But Hazel Green played us exactly as they should have, and that was a tough game. Sparkman has an excellent team, and going to Tuscaloosa County and winning is big. You know that Tuscaloosa County is always going to have a very good team.
"We can do some things better, but if we play like we're capable, we have a chance."
Allen said this matchup might not be so much fun for the coaches involved.
"We're rivals, but Jamie and I are friends. We work together closely during the year. With our teams having to play each other, that adds something a little bit different to this game."
At Wallace State-Hanceville
Hartselle (21-8) vs. Ramsay (32-2), 9 a.m.
Russellville (11-16) vs. Fairfield (27-6), noon
Tanner (25-4) vs. Cold Springs (25-3), 3:30 p.m.
Mars Hill Bible (17-9) vs. Cleveland (28-1), 6:30 p.m.
Decatur (23-9) vs. Florence (22-12), 9 a.m.
Hazel Green (25-10) vs. Bob Jones (25-8), noon
Hazlewood (30-4) vs. Meek (18-6), 3:30 p.m.
Waterloo (22-7) vs. Addison (22-1), 6:30 p.m.
East Lawrence (23-7) vs. West Point (15-13), 9 a.m.
Deshler (30-1) vs. Haleyville (27-4), noon
Lauderdale County (22-11) vs. Vinemont, 3:30 p.m.
Sheffield (24-6) vs. Sulligent (21-9), 6:30 p.m.
Class 5A, 9 a.m.
Class 2A, 12:30 p.m.
Class 1A, 4 p.m.
Class 6A, 9 a.m.
Class 4A, 12:30 p.m.
Class 3A, 4 p.m.
Athens (25-10) vs. Parker (27-5), 10:30 a.m.
Cullman (20-9) vs. Ramsay (23-8), 1:30 p.m.
Lexington (17-13) vs. Pickens County (18-9), 5 p.m.
Tanner (26-2) vs. Hale County, 8 p.m.
Sparkman (24-9) vs. John Carroll (23-10), 10:30 a.m.
Decatur (26-6) vs. Austin (23-9), 1:30 p.m.
Hazlewood (14-14) vs. Marion County, 5 p.m.
R.A. Hubbard (24-4) vs. Addison (17-6), 8 p.m.
Brooks (27-4) vs. Corner (20-11), 10:30 a.m.
Deshler (20-6) vs. Dora (23-7), 1:30 p.m.
Danville (26-2) vs. New Hope (24-3), 5 p.m.
Madison Academy (23-8) vs. Winfield (22-3), 8 p.m.
Class 5A, 10:45 a.m.
Class 2A, 2:15 p.m.
Class 1A, 5:45 p.m.
Class 6A, 10:45 a.m.
Class 4A, 2:15 p.m.
Class 3A, 5:45 p.m.
At Jacksonville State
Priceville (22-5) vs. Ranburne (23-6), 3:30 p.m.
Fyffe (27-3) vs. Gaston (23-5), 6:30 p.m.
Class 2A, 3 p.m.
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