Thursday, January 28, 2016

Local high school basketball season getting down to short rows

The local high school basketball season is getting down to the short rows as all four of our local varsity teams near the end of their regular season schedules and begin eyeing the post season.

By the time this edition of The Courant hits the streets, Sparta Academy’s varsity boys and girls will have played their last regular season games and will be preparing to travel to Selma for the region tourney. Hillcrest’s varsity boys and girls will wrap up their regular season schedules a week from today, on Thurs., Feb. 4, when they play Georgiana High School in Evergreen. After that, it’ll be area tournament time for the Jags and Lady Jags.

All four of our local teams have done pretty good up to this point, and they’ve all got winning records. Sparta’s boys are sporting the best overall record in the county at 17-4 overall. Hillcrest’s girls have the next best record with an 11-4 mark overall. Sparta’s girls follow with a 14-7 overall mark, and Hillcrest’s boys are next with a 12-10 overall record.

Don’t let Hillcrest’s boys’ overall record fool you. Almost all of their losses have come against larger, talented teams, including Class 5A Greenville, Class 6A Park Crossing, Class 6A Paul Bryant, Class 5A Charles Henderson, Class 4A Monroe County and Class 5A Escambia County. All but three of their losses have come on the road, some were by narrow margins and in some cases they’ve returned the favor by beating them in rematches.

Hillcrest’s girls may be the surprise of the season. Playing under first year head coach Tammie Patrick, the Lady Jags have reeled off a number of impressive wins that have included double digit victories over Greenville, Opp, J.F. Shields, Monroe County, W.S. Neal, Escambia County and Central-Hayneville. Don’t be surprised if the Lady Jags are able to battle their way into this year’s region tourney, which is just a matter of weeks away.

Sparta’s girls are 14-7 overall, and the program has enjoyed so much success over the years that some may consider this a down year. With that said, don’t let the numbers fool you. Sparta’s girls could make a very strong run here at the end, especially if they can come up with a way to deal with their nemesis this season, Lowndes Academy. Sparta played them much closer last Thursday night, so don’t be shocked if the Lady Warriors upset Lowndes in the region tournament this week.

Sparta’s varsity boys have had an outstanding season so far, and at this point, they’re a lock for at least the Elite Eight round of the state playoffs. At this point, it looks like Lakeside and Crenshaw Christian will be the stiffest competition in the post-season, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Sparta could win the Class A state title, especially if Crenshaw or Lakeside knocks one or the other out of the running.

Only time will tell as to how it will all play out over the next few weeks, but one thing is for certain. If you live in Conecuh County and enjoy watching high school basketball, you’ve got a lot to look forward to in the days and weeks to come. 

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