Heading into the postseason with momentum on its side, Austin High’s girls basketball team has taken on a new motto.
Changing old trends.
The Black Bears checked one roadblock off their list of goals Monday by winning the Class 6A, Area 16 title — the program’s first in 12 years.
Now comes the big one: Reaching the Northwest Regional.
Austin (22-7) hosts Bob Jones (28-5) today in a Class 6A sub-regional game, with the winner advancing to the Northwest Regional. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Austin hasn’t made an appearance in the Northwest Regional since 2006, a trend the Black Bears hope to change.
“That’s our next goal,” Austin point guard Takisha Jordan said following Monday’s Area 16 title game. “Getting to Hanceville (for the Northwest Regional) has been our No. 1 goal from the very beginning.”
Reaching the postseason isn’t new for Austin. The Black Bears are making their fourth straight sub-regional appearance.
But advancing to Wallace State has been a stumbling block. Since the Alabama High School Athletic Association incorporated the regional format in 1994, the Black Bears have made only four appearances at the Northwest Regional (1994, 2000, 2001 and 2006).
“Hopefully we can change that,” Austin coach Bruce Hamilton said following the Area 16 title game. “But we’ve got a tough game coming up against a very good Bob Jones team. We’ll have to play well to have a chance to win.”
Welcome home: For the first time in almost two years, East Limestone’s baseball and softball teams will play games on the school’s campus.
East Limestone’s baseball and softball facilities were destroyed during the April 2011 tornadoes, but the playing fields and surrounding structures have now been replaced.
East Limestone hosts Decatur on Monday in the program’s first home game at the new facility. The game is part of the East Limestone/Athens tournament.
On Feb. 28, East Limestone’s baseball and softball teams host James Clemens in their regular season openers, and school officials have scheduled a “Welcome home” ceremony for the players.
Two area players sign with Calhoun: Hatton’s Mariah Cantrell and Hartselle’s Leah Stephenson have signed scholarships with Calhoun Community College’s softball program.
As a junior last season, Cantrell hit near the top of Hatton’s lineup. The outfielder played a key role for a team that won a third straight Class 2A state title, while Stephenson started in Hartselle’s outfield.
Calhoun’s 2013 signing class included five players and a team manager. Lauderdale County’s Haley Barclay, Buckhorn’s Caitlyn Hayden and McKenzie Childress of Loretto, Tenn., all signed as players, while Ardmore’s Max Hitt signed as a team manager.
Contact Justin Graves at 256-340-2460 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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