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SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2005
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City rivalry goes regional
Decatur, Austin to meet for 3rd time this season

By Mark Edwards
DAILY Sports Editor

medwards@decaturdaily.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."

Regional pairings

NORTHWEST REGIONAL
At Wallace State-Hanceville
GIRLS' SCHEDULE
TUESDAY
Class 5A

Hartselle (21-8) vs. Ramsay (32-2), 9 a.m.

Russellville (11-16) vs. Fairfield (27-6), noon

Class 2A

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.

WEDNESDAY
Class 6A

Decatur (23-9) vs. Florence (22-12), 9 a.m.

Hazel Green (25-10) vs. Bob Jones (25-8), noon

Class 2A

Hazlewood (30-4) vs. Meek (18-6), 3:30 p.m.

Waterloo (22-7) vs. Addison (22-1), 6:30 p.m.

THURSDAY
Class 4A

East Lawrence (23-7) vs. West Point (15-13), 9 a.m.

Deshler (30-1) vs. Haleyville (27-4), noon

Class 3A

Lauderdale County (22-11) vs. Vinemont, 3:30 p.m.

Sheffield (24-6) vs. Sulligent (21-9), 6:30 p.m.

FRIDAY
Finals

Class 5A, 9 a.m.

Class 2A, 12:30 p.m.

Class 1A, 4 p.m.

SATURDAY
Finals

Class 6A, 9 a.m.

Class 4A, 12:30 p.m.

Class 3A, 4 p.m.

BOYS' SCHEDULE
TUESDAY
Class 5A

Athens (25-10) vs. Parker (27-5), 10:30 a.m.

Cullman (20-9) vs. Ramsay (23-8), 1:30 p.m.

Class 2A

Lexington (17-13) vs. Pickens County (18-9), 5 p.m.

Tanner (26-2) vs. Hale County, 8 p.m.

WEDNESDAY
Class 6A
Sparkman (24-9) vs. John Carroll (23-10), 10:30 a.m.

Decatur (26-6) vs. Austin (23-9), 1:30 p.m.

Class 1A

Hazlewood (14-14) vs. Marion County, 5 p.m.

R.A. Hubbard (24-4) vs. Addison (17-6), 8 p.m.

THURSDAY
Class 4A

Brooks (27-4) vs. Corner (20-11), 10:30 a.m.

Deshler (20-6) vs. Dora (23-7), 1:30 p.m.

Class 3A

Danville (26-2) vs. New Hope (24-3), 5 p.m.

Madison Academy (23-8) vs. Winfield (22-3), 8 p.m.

FRIDAY
Finals

Class 5A, 10:45 a.m.

Class 2A, 2:15 p.m.

Class 1A, 5:45 p.m.

SATURDAY
Finals

Class 6A, 10:45 a.m.

Class 4A, 2:15 p.m.

Class 3A, 5:45 p.m.

NORTHEAST REGIONAL
At Jacksonville State
GIRLS' SCHEDULE
TUESDAY
Class 2A

Priceville (22-5) vs. Ranburne (23-6), 3:30 p.m.

Fyffe (27-3) vs. Gaston (23-5), 6:30 p.m.

FRIDAY
Finals

Class 2A, 3 p.m.

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