Take last year, for example.
The Cedar Bluff Tigers won a 65-63 thriller in overtime against Sand Rock to earn their first boys county championship since 1964.
In the girls championship bout, the Cherokee County Lady Warriors claimed their first county crown since 2003 with a hard-fought 49-43 victory over Spring Garden.
Judging by the way things have transpired during the first half of the 2011-12 basketball season, fans are in store for another classic tournament on Jan. 12-14 at the Gadsden State-Cherokee Arena.
The county basketball coaches met Wednesday at The Gridiron restaurant in Centre to determine the seeding for this year’s tournament. The Lady Warriors (11-3) will attempt to defend their crown as the top-seeded girls squad. On the boys’ side, Sand Rock (11-5) looks to improve upon last season’s runner-up finish and will attempt to do so as the top seed.
Both teams’ respective head coaches know their paths to this year’s tournament titles will be difficult as usual.
“The county tournament is always strong,” Cherokee County coach Travis Barnes said. “It’s an honor to be the top seed, especially with the teams that are in this county. There is pressure (being the top seed and defending champion), and I think it’s in our girls’ heads that when we play at the (Gadsden State-Cherokee) arena, we don’t play good there, but everybody on our team’s experienced. Hopefully we can do it again this year, but we’re definitely not overlooking anybody. We know anybody out there can beat us.”
The Lady Warriors open tournament play on Friday, Jan. 13 at 4 p.m. against the winner of the match up between No. 4 Sand Rock (5-10) and No. 5 Gaylesville. That game will be played at 5:30 p.m. next Thursday.
The 2-3 pairing matches Cedar Bluff (8-7) against Spring Garden (8-7). That game is scheduled for next Friday at 7 p.m.
The girls tournament championship is set for next Saturday at 6 p.m.
Sand Rock’s boys open tournament play next Friday at 5:30 p.m. against the winner of the 4-5 game between Spring Garden (7-8) and Gaylesville (2-9). That game is set for next Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
Cherokee County (9-7) faces Cedar Bluff (8-9) in the 2-3 game next Friday at 8:30 p.m.
The boys tournament championship is scheduled for next Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
“Anybody can win it,” Sand Rock coach Brian Mackey said. “Being the top seed is nice to have, but you’ve got to win your games. It doesn’t matter where you’re seeded. You’ve still got to show up and play and win them. It’s going to be a good county tournament, and we’re going to try and make the most of it.”
B-Team Girls and Boys Tournament
Cherokee County and Sand Rock’s B-Team girls teams square off next Saturday at 3 p.m., with the winner being crowned county champion.
Following that game, Spring Garden’s B-Team boys will play the winner of the Sand Rock-Cherokee County game next Saturday at 4:30 p.m. Sand Rock and Cherokee County play Jan. 12 at 4:30 p.m.
All games will be held at the Gadsden State-Cherokee Arena.