Ten area championship games to watch this week
Area tournaments are underway across the state of Alabama, and teams from each respective classification are looking to advance in the playoffs. Within the next few weeks, we will be crowning state champions in Birmingham — but first, the road starts here with area tournaments.
Remember, the two teams that play for the area championship are guaranteed a sub-region game with the opportunity to advance to regionals (with the exception of 7A, who doesn’t have sub-region play). The winner will host another game at their gymnasium, while the loser has to travel to its crossover opponent.
With all that being said, here are ten area championships I’m going to be watching closely as this week winds down…
7A Area 5 - Hoover vs. Vestavia Hills
This matchup doesn’t need much of an explanation. This area was a gauntlet to get through, as Thompson and Tuscaloosa County were the odd teams out. Nevertheless, both Hoover and Vestavia Hills have been No. 1 in the 7A polls this season. It should be another competitive game.
7A Area 7 - Sparkman vs. Huntsville
Huntsville has taken down Sparkman in their two previous matchups, but it’s tough to beat the same team three times in a season. This should be a fun one with an abundance of talented players on the floor.
6A Area 2 - Spanish Fort vs. McGill Toolen
Historically, both of these teams have always been competitive. I don’t see any reason why that changes this go around. Spanish Fort won in a one-point thriller to advance to the area championship. Will that recent urgency keep fueling them? This one will be interesting to watch.
6A Area 3 - Sidney Lanier vs. Carver-Montgomery
Sidney Lanier and Carver-Montgomery have a long history of classic matchups. While they don’t necessarily have the flashy players from recent memory, this is going to be a dog fight. Round three anyone?
6A Area 14 - Cullman vs. Hartselle
Hartselle stunned Cullman a few weeks ago with Ryan Dunn’s shot at the buzzer to lift the Tigers past the Bearcats. Both of the previous games have been entertaining and come down to the wire. This is arguably the biggest game of the week — the loser of this one has to travel to Pinson Valley for a sub-region matchup against the Indians.
5A Area 9 - John Carroll vs. Fairfield
John Carroll has been one of the biggest surprises this season. They took down Wenonah earlier this week to get another chance at Fairfield, and both of those games have come down to the last few minutes. This should be another competitive matchup.
5A Area 14 - Scottsboro vs. Guntersville
Both Scottsboro and Guntersville have been staples in the 5A rankings this year, so this is an easy game to watch. It’s possible they could meet again in regional play, if both teams win their sub-region games, of course. Whoever wins this one will have an easier road to the Final 4, though.
4A Area 13 - Priceville vs. West Morgan
Priceville won a barn-burner over Good Hope to earn another opportunity against the Rebels. Just a few weeks ago, West Morgan defeated the Bulldogs for the Morgan County championship. It doesn’t get any better than another rivalry game, and this time it’s for the area championship. Don’t miss this one if you’re in the area.
2A Area 13 - Decatur Heritage vs. Holly Pond
Both of these teams have gone from “rebuilding” to “reloading” in a hurry. Decatur Heritage and Holly Pond have both been highly regarded in the ASWA 2A rankings over the course of the season. Much like Scottsboro and Guntersville, the winner of this game will have an easier path to Birmingham.
7A Area 3 - Dothan/Lee-Montgomery vs. Jefferson Davis/Enterprise
This five-team area has the semi-finals on Thursday evening. It’s a stacked group with a couple of talented teams involved, along with some historically good programs. I could see this one going a ton of different ways. Keep close tabs on it.