Week 2 scoreboard:
West Point 27, Arab 26
Cold Springs 27, Berry 20
Fairview 32, Hanceville 22
Good Hope 47, Priceville 14
Holly Pond 36, Ider 13
Mortimer Jordan 18, Cullman 16
Falkville 32, Vinemont 28
Piedmont 32, Addison 20
Still undefeated after two weeks:
Cold Springs Eagles, Good Hope Raiders, Holly Pond Broncos, West Point Warriors.
In the win column:
Fairview's 32-22 victory over the Hanceville Bulldogs ended a 6-game losing streak for the Aggies.
The thrill of victory:
West Point's 27-26 victory over Arab, coming from a 26-7 halftime deficit, scoring the game winner on a TD run by Hunter Persall and Stephen Rodriguez's extra point with 51 seconds remaining.
The agony of defeat:
Cullman Bearcats lost 18-16 to Mortimer Jordan on a FG by the Blue Devils with less than 2:00 remaining. Vinemont suffered 32-28 loss to Falkville after leading at halftime 12-11.
First time victories for Warriors, Broncos:
West Point and Holly Pond enjoyed wins against Arab and Ider, playing them for the very first time. This was Holly Pond's fourth time of playing all time inside Deklab County and winning a game up there for the first time.
Season has improved from last year:
After two games, Cold Springs has more wins that they did all of 2017. The Eagles are 2-0 after they went 1-9 last season. In defeating Berry 27-20 Friday night, the Eagles lead the series with the Wildcats 6-5.
Through two games, the Holly Pond Broncos are allowing 13 points a contest, while the Cold Springs Eagles are giving up 20. The Broncos defeated New Hope 26-13 in the opener and Ider 36-13 Friday night.
Cold Springs has surrendered 20 points in both games to Meek and Berry. The Eagles posted 34 points against Meek and had 27 on the scoreboard Friday against Berry.
Area escapes bad weather:
Games around the area were able to be completed Friday night, without no weather problems. That could not be said down in the Birmingham area as a thunderstorm moved through, delaying games and having at least four suspended and to be completed on Saturday.
The rain did arrive at West Point Stadium shortly after the Warriors finished their 27-26 win over Arab.
Game time conditions at West Point Stadium were partly cloudy skies, temperature in the upper 80s and a heat index making it feel like the low 90s.
Locals establish winning formula in road games early in 2018 season:
So far, the Good Hope Raiders and Holly Pond Broncos have been the local teams that have played opponents outside the county. Good Hope is 2-0 with wins at Carbon Hill and Priceville, Holly Pond went to Dekalb County Friday night and came home a 36-13 winner over Ider.
A majority of games inside the county have been strong through the first two weeks with more to be on display this coming week.
Looking ahead to September 7 games:
Cullman at Decatur - Both are 1-1 with this being Matt Plunkett's 1st road game and a 6A, Region 7 as well. The Bearcats will play on the new artificial turf at legendary Ogle Stadium in the River City.
J.B. Pennington at Hanceville - Bulldogs back home, facing an 0-2 Pennington squad that fell to rival Susan Moore 28-21 in OT on Friday evening. Hanceville lost to Fairview in its first road game for new coach Cody McCain.
Cordova at Good Hope - Home opener for the Raiders, 4A Region 5 game with the Blue Devils and the 1978 Class celebrating its 40th anniversary. The senior players from 1978 were 9-1, setting a record for victories at Good Hope in one season at that time.
Cold Springs at Southeastern - Eagles head on the road for the first time, going into Blount County to meet Southeastern, This is a 2A, Region 5 game.
Hamilton at West Point - Warriors will have to play a complete game next week in order to stay undefeated. Class 5A, Region 7 opener. Hamilton came to West Point two years ago and pulled out a 14-10 victory. Third straight game for the Warriors at West Point.
DAR at Fairview - Aggies try to go 2-1 on the season with the Patriots paying a visit to Dafford Smith Stadium.
Midfield at Holly Pond - Undefeated Broncos get tested by the Patriots from the Birmingham area in the 3A, Region 5 opener.
Westbrook Christian at Vinemont - Eagles meet ball club from Gadsden for the very first time in a non-regional game at Mark Smothers Stadium.
Photo of Cullman crowd vs. Mortimer Jordan Friday at Oliver Woodard Stadium.
Photo courtesy of Cullman High School.
ATLANTA, Georgia - Among the crowd of 5,086 inside McCamish Pavilion on the campus of Georgia Tech University Sunday afternoon was yours truly.
This reporter was attending his first ever WNBA game, with it being game one of a semifinal series between the Atlanta Dream and the Washington Mystics.
My schedule for this worked out in very good fortune to go over to see the game and return home Sunday evening, knowing a busy week of assignments is waiting to close out the final week of August.
The Dream came into the playoffs with the second best record of 23-11 in the regular season, three games behind the Seattle Storm's 26-8 mark.
I don't have one team in the WNBA that I cheer on. I admire a series of players I remember from their days of collegiate hoops, with some that I have had the chance to see in attending the NCAA Final Four in Nashville in 2014, in Dallas in 2017 and the SEC Tournament in Nashville back in March.
But Sunday, was the first opportunity to be inside the same building to see Elena Delle Donne of the Mystics perform. I remember her when she played at the University of Delaware and was the WNBA rookie of the year and is a former MVP in the league too.
No doubt one of the top players in the league, Delle Donne showed her stuff in leading the Mystics to an 87-84 upset victory and a 1-0 lead in the best of five-game series.
Della Donne and the Mystics stole the thunder from the Dream, who were 13-4 at McCamish in the regular season and playing very good basketball for August, despite losing star player Angel McCoughtry earlier this month with a torn ACL.
Visiting Georgia Tech for the first time was delightful. The atmosphere was good, but kind of disappointing that only 5,000 showed up to see the battle. Later in the day, over 9.600 were on hand in Seattle as the Storm outlasted the Phoenix Mercury 91-87 in the opening game of their semifinal series.
The WNBA has been able to establish credibility for women's professional basketball with the league in operation for 21 years. The Dream has been in operation since 2008 and has worked its way to a sound organization on the floor with three conference championships and the second best record in 2018 regular season play.
It allows women who play college hoops across the country and players from overseas to be in a professional environment as their male counterparts. Now their salaries are not to the same status as like LeBron, Steph Curry just to mention a couple.
Women's basketball has made tremendous strides through the years and I can add to my list of up close and personal contact for the first time with the WNBA.
The league has national exposure through ESPN, with many of the teams like the Dream, appearing on Fox Sports during the regular season. I saw some video highlights from Sunday's game and was able to see myself in the background.
I was blessed to have a seat on the fourth row behind the basket, facing the South side of the arena. That allowed me to be in a good position to see the game and take a good number of photos.
A concern is what kind of crowd will attend Game 2 Tuesday at McCamish? The Braves are back home, playing good baseball, with Tampa Bay coming to Atlanta winners of eight straight and fresh off sweeping the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park.
I have other obligations that keeps me from returning. But that is also my job, now that fall sports in the AHSAA have started and they deserve their recognition and coverage.
Dream coach Nicki Collen, the AP coach of the year in the WNBA, knows she has to see her squad regroup in order to avoid going to Washington later in the week down by two games.
Sunday's game for the Dream was their first since they ended the regular season. They received a double bye to the semifinals. The Mystics drew a 2nd round game at home with the LA Sparks and won last Thursday going away. That allowed them to stay in rhythm while the Dream had their longest down time since the All-Star break in July.
If you love women's basketball and I know there is plenty of people around here that do from high school and youth players to coaches and fans, do attend a WNBA game in Atlanta. That's the closest to Cullman the league has to offer.
Now if you really want to expand your horizon, good franchises are available in Seattle, Phoenix, Dallas, Connecticut and an up and coming Las Vegas squad that just completed its inaugural year, moving from San Antonio.
The Aces possess A'Ja Wilson, formerly of South Carolina and a two-time SEC player of the year.
You will not be disappointed.
Photo 1: Atlanta Dream coach Nicki Collen prior to tip off for WNBA semifinal Game 1.
Photo 2: Dream G Tiffany Hayes with a pass against the Mystics defense in 1st qiarter.
Photo 3: Injured Dream player Angel McCoughtry high fives a teammate before the tip.
Photo 4: Mystics' Elena Delle Donne boxing out at the foul line.
Photo 5: Dream G Brittany Sykes tries to drive on Mystics' Elena Delle Donne.
Photo 6: WNBA and the Dream with a moment of silence before the game honoring the late U.S. Senator, John McCain.
Sportspage photos by Johnny Thornton
County teams go perfect against non county opposition:
A good start on the 2018 AHSAA football season with the county posting five victories in four tries, then add a win in jamboree assignment.
On Thursday, Cullman had the excitement in getting past Jasper 28-27 on a TD pass with 0:03 left and kicking the extra point, Cold Springs toppled Meek 34-20 at Cranford Stricklin Stadium.
Then for the first Friday, the Hanceville Bulldogs ran roughshod over Sumiton Christian 48-14, Holly Pond Broncos claimed a 26-13 win against New Hope and Good Hope Raiders came from behind to knock off Carbon Hill 20-12.
Vinemont was involved in a jamboree game at East Lawrence, with the Eagles getting the best of their rival from Lawrence County by the final of 29-18.
So, Cullman, Cold Springs, Hanceville, Holly Pond, Good Hope are beaming with a 1-0 start while Vinemont takes positive work to build on for the season opener next week.
Racking up the points:
West Point set a tone for scoring the most points on opening night in the Don Farley era, a 55-27 shootout over the Fairview Aggies in a Thursday contest.
The Warriors amassed 498 yards of total offense, entering the Fairview end zone eight times, including three times in the second quarter that turned a 14-6 lead into a 34-6 cushion by halftime. Six different players scored in the opener, led by senior running back Hunter Persall who tallied three TDs on runs of 6, 27 and 66 yards.
Debut with success:
New coaches locally made their debut with positive results. Matt Plunkett came to Cullman and saw the taste of victory in true, dramatic fashion, with a 28-27 thriller against Japser. The Bearcats got the game winner with three seconds left when Max Dueland found Dylan Wallace open in the left corner of the end zone and the extra point put them ahead to stay.
Cody McCain walked on to Ray Talley Stadium with the Hanceville Bulldogs and watched his new squad dismantle Sumiton Christian 48-14. The Bulldogs scored on the first play from scrimmage, taking a 22-0 lead after the first quarter. It was 36-0 at the half and a TD on the final play of the third quarter had the Bulldogs well in command at 48-0.
Not a lot of enjoyment was on display for new coaches as the new leaders at Arab, Jasper, Sumiton Christian, New Hope, West Morgan, Tanner, Priceville and Danville suffered season opening losses.
Joining Plunkett and McCain in winning as new coaches were Michael Parker at Clements, who replaced McCain and Chad Eads, who replaced Plunkett at Gardendale. Clements shut out Elkmont 29-0 with Gardendale getting a 38-21 win in Huntsville over Mae Jemison.
The thrill of victory:
Winning returned to the Cold Springs Eagles and Hanceville Bulldogs for the first time in almost a year. Cold Springs' 34-20 upset of Meek broke an eight-game losing streak for Rod Elliott's Eagles.
Hanceville's 48-14 victory over Sumiton Christian said goodbye to a nine-game losing skid. The last time the Bulldogs had seen victory was August 25 of last year in a 36-20 triumph at Talley Stadium against Cold Springs.
Getting it done in crunch time:
Winning before time expired was very satisfying in two Thursday night games. The Cullman Bearcats clipped the Jasper Vikings 28-27 on a TD pass and an extra point with three seconds remaining.
Down in Pickens County, Fayette County threw a 26-yard touchdown with just four seconds to go in a 19-14 come-from-behind thriller against Gordo. Fayette County got a second chance when Gordo was called for pass interference on a fourth down play, giving the Tigers a new set of downs with little time to spare.
A lot to look forward to for final Friday in August:
There will be a handful of games for the second week of the 2018 schedule to look forward to, following a wild and entertaining August 23 and 24.
Hanceville @ Fairview - Bulldogs take a lot of momentum into their road opener with the Aggies determined to redeem themselves as they play at Dafford Smith Stadium for the first time in 2018.
Arab @ West Point - Former Cullman assistant Oscar Glasscock brings the Arabian Knights to West Point for the first time. The Knights were defeated at their new stadium by Boaz 42-17. West Point is looking to the encounter after a stout effort on both sides of the ball on opening night over Fairview.
Falkville @ Vinemont - Eagles officially kick off 2018 vs. a long time rival. Coach Stephen Robinson's Eagles will have to contain a revved up Falkville club that crushed Danville 54-7 in the opener. Vinemont defeated East Lawrence 29-18 in jamboree play to create momentum for this week against a squad that toppled the Eagles 47-7 to end the 2017 season.
Berry @ Cold Springs - Fresh off an upset of Meek, the Eagles have the Wildcats return to Cranford Stricklin Stadium for the second straight year. The Eagles earned a 13-7 victory last season, the only win of 2017 for Rod Elliott's team. This series is even at 5-5 entering their next encounter.
Mortimer Jordan @ Cullman - Bearcats look to maintain momentum from the dramatic finish against Jasper. Cullman gets Mortimer Jordan, who lost the opener to Pleasant Grove 34-27 and is 2-12-1 all time in the series, suffering five consecutive defeats to the Bearcats in the last 11 years.
Good Hope @ Priceville - Raiders go from Walker County in week one to Morgan County in game two.
Holly Pond @ Ider - Broncos and Hornets get together for the very first time. Broncos have won their last three regular season games on the road entering this trip to Dekalb County.
Piedmont @ Addison - Two teams that have never played with plenty of tradition to bring them together. Piedmont is 41-3 last 3 years, winning the 3A title in 2016. Addison has gone 23-4 in previous two seasons for David Smothers, reaching the quarterfinal round of the 1A playoffs.
Cullman County Schools Superintendent Shane Barnette thought a football media day put on by the school system would be ideal with the 2018 season to kick off in a couple of days.
Designing it similar to the very popular Southeastern Conference football media days that has takes place every July, Barnette was able to get full attendance by the seven schools in the system to come to the board of education office Tuesday and meet local media.
Barnette added a little twist to the inaugural event. He had members of the team's cheerleading squads and band members to accompany players and the head coach.
Band coaches and cheerleader coaches were invited with the majority having fun at this event to spotlight the student athletes and the dedicated work by the coaches for the players, cheerleaders and band members.
The media day consumed two and a half hours, beginning at 9:30 a.m. and coming to a close at noon.
Each school had 20 minutes to answer questions from radio, print and internet media, including Sportspage.
No one was shy at speaking to the media as all handled themselves in a comfortable manner, looking forward to the new season that is ready to go.
Here are comments made by a variety from the Cullman County schools media day:
"Our expectations are high. We have a large group of seniors. They have put in a lot of time. Our fans have been waiting for this moment," Good Hope coach Alan Scott.
"I come from a college town where expectations are high. We do thing different here. I appreciate the southern hospitality," new Good Hope band director Melanie Gonzalez. Gonzalez comes to Good Hope from California, where she was in a seven-college area that included Southern California and UCLA.
"Everything starts in the locker room. Day in, day out, they come in and do their assignments with everyday mentality," coach Scott.
"Accountability, ownership, grit. That is what we buy into everyday when we go on to the field," West Point football coach Don Farley.
"We are all one. We go into together. A goal for us this year is to host a playoff game. We push each other every day," West Point running back Brayden Martin.
"It's a no brainer that everyone is excited right now. This is great publicity for our young people to get," coach Farley.
"We're excited to be here to talk about our school. We are a young team. We have to get the young guys up to speed. The excitement we have comes from passion," Fairview football coach George Redding.
"We have 16 freshmen who have to contribute right away. I feel good going on. We're ready to show up and play," Fairview QB Dayne Black.
"This is a short week. We have to focus on us as a group. We control what we control. We are developing to get better in every phase of the game" coach Redding.
"We are trying to change things at Vinemont. We want to take it to the next level. It's what we do and how we do it. Nobody expects much out of Vinemont, except for us," Vinemont football coach Stephen Robinson.
"We are seeing positive changes at Vinemont," Vinemont cheerleader Brilee Wasilewski.
"The kids are now being accountable. We have over 40 daily at summer workouts. A lot of people have seen attitudes that are different from time before. We are getting closer every day," coach Robinson.
"Looking forward to the season to get started. We are excited about the season that has arrived. We have a good senior class. They were disappointed in themselves last year. They were doing the workouts when I was hired in April, without being forced to do so," Hanceville football coach Cody McCain.
"It's the skies the limit for these kids. A lot of working is coming together," Hanceville band director Jesse James.
"Our chemistry was not good last year. We remember that. We want to forget it," Hanceville quarterback Fred Ellis.
"We have momentum, experience. Every year is different. The kids know what it takes to win and compete," Holly Pond football coach Mike Bates.
"We are working hard this season," Holly Pond cheerleader Lacey Wise.
"Our schedule has gotten tougher. New Hope is a giant football team. I didn't realize how big they are. We have got to stay healthy. We have to have a little bit of luck," coach Bates.
"Our kids are special. We work as a unified team. The spirit is second to none. I'm excited to be a part of Cold Springs High School," Cold Springs football coach Rod Elliott.
"This year we are coachable. We're going to do what we have to make the playoffs," Cold Springs running back/linebacker Calvin McNabb.
"Meek is a rock skip across the lake for us. We are excited to get them back on our schedule," coach Elliott said on opening the season against Meek.
Media Day provided spirit that game week is here as a tripleheader of assignments will be on Thursday and three games to be held Friday.
The county board had assistance as Encore Rehab was a sponsor, providing the students with merchandise.
Superintendent Barnette and his staff displayed organization with everything operating on clock work Tuesday morning.
The superintendent plans to make this a future event right before each football season begins.
Photo 1: Superintendent Shane Barnette welcomes Cold Springs to media day.
Photo 2: Good Hope coach Alan Scott, QB Bailey Quick, WR Matt Hancock.
Photo 3: West Point coach Don Farley, OL William Roberts, RB Brayden Martin.
Photo 4: Fairview coach George Redding and players Oakley Millican, Dayne Black (L-R).
Photo 5: L-R, Vinemont band director Skylar King, WR Hudson Wood, LB Mitch Ford, coach Stephen Robinson, Brilee Wasilewski.
Photo 6: Hanceville coach Cody McCain, QB Fred Ellis.
Photo 7: Holly Pond cheerleader Jacey Rice, coach Mike Bates, RB Jeremiah Holmes.
Photo 8: Cold Springs band director William Johnson, coach Rod Elliott, LB Calvin McNabb
Sportspage photos by Johnny Thornton
Cullman Basketball Complex Director Branch Whitlock was full of pride Sunday evening following completion of the men's summer basketball league.
Eight weeks of competitive hoops with two weeks of postseason play is now in the record books.
The facility that opened last September, has made tremendous stride, growing with 14 teams for the summer league, after having a dozen and eight in two other sessions.
In overseeing the league, Whitlock was able to endure of six hotly contested games on championship Sunday, featuring several upsets, a buzzer beater and one that had to be decided in double overtime:
Game 1: #6 Arab Toon Squad 69, #2 Nothing But Nets 63.
Game 2: #5 Blue 53, #4 Gray 51
Game 3: #3 Hayden Legends 65, #9 Rampage 64
Game 4: #1 Cullman GNC 62, #5 Blue 60 (2 OT) (Semifinal)
Game 5: # 3 Hayden Legends 61, # 6 Arab Toon Squad 53 (Semifinal)
Game 6: #3 Hayden Legends 58, #1 Cullman GNC 44.
FLASH NOTES: Upsets got the day going with a near upset in game three. Rampage led the Legends 64-63 with 0:06 when they had a chance to extend their lead from the foul line. But they missed and the Legends went down court as an 18-foot jumper from Collin Chappell with 0:02 left, sent them on to the semifinals.
The Ramage fielded the youngest squad of all in the league with recent grads Bryson Fletcher and Cameron Guthrie of Fairview, Colby Sullins of West Point, 2017 grad Dawson Foust of Holly Pond, 2016 Fairview grad Austin Fletcher.
This game had six lead changes in the final 2:28, with two baskets by the Rampage coming on shots from Bryson Fletcher, with assists by his brother Austin.
Top seed Cullman GNC had to overcome a 10-point second half deficit to upset minded Blue in the game's final 7:30. GNC went up 56-53, but missed a free throw at 0:16, allowing Blue a chance to tie. Team Blue responded with a three with two seconds left to create extra play in the semifinal.
It came down to GNC breaking the tie with 57 seconds left on free throws from Andre Tatum. The Blue had a couple of chances to take the lead, but were unable to connect from long distance and were ousted in a grueling contest.
The Legends led the Toon Squad 31-24 at the half and raised the margin to 42-31 early in the second stanza. But the Toon Squad stood its ground and narrowed the lead to 50-46 with 1:32 remaining,
Clutch free throw shooting enabled the Legends to gain victory as they were nine of 10 in the final 1:26, hitting six in a row. They were able to go from four up to the final margin of eight, led by the Chappell brothers, Collin and Christian.
Talent on display:
Cullman's men summer league consisted of personnel that recently graduated from high school, several that are playing collegiate hoops and others in the late 20s and early to mid 30s, who still enjoy being on the hardwood.
Without any question, the most notable to play in the league was Lawson Schaffer, the current Alabama player and former Cullman standout.
Unfortunately for Schaffer and his Nothing But Nets teammates Xavier Malcom of Walace State, former Cold Springs shooter Gary Carner, recent Good Hope graduate Issac McDonald, had a scoring lapse in the second half as a 35-33 game with the Toon Squad at halftime, became a 65-49 lead for the Toon Squad with 4:00 to go.
Schaffer, Malcom and company went on a late surge, but ran out of time and the No. 2 seed was done for the tournament.
A player Sportspage recognized from Team Blue was former Vinemont shooter Garrett Boland. He displayed an outside stroke in helping the No. 5 seed take the top seed GNC into double overtime.
The Gray lineup consisted of ex Cullman Bearcats Dylan Finch, Lane Robertson, Fletcherf Reeling and Gage Goodwin. All had been on recent teams for coach Bobby Meyer that made a couple of runs into the Northwest Regional, along with Schaffer.
Tatum for GNC is headed to Georgia Southwestern University. Tatum was in Huntsville Saturday for a Pro Am game in the Run N Ref Sports Showcase at Columbia High School, scoring 29 points for Team Cullman in a 102-93 loss to the Legends from Huntsville.
Fifty-seven percent of the champion Hayden Legends were members of the Chappell family. Brothers Collin and Christian, plus Bret and Logan. Also helping the No. 3 seed to the title were Chris Martin, Christian Baker and Michael Calvert.
Schaffer working hard in the offseason:
Lawson Schaffer has spent the summer focusing on different phases of the game, from conditioning to continuing on the floor work.
Playing in the Cullman men's summer league, plus taking part in the Pro Am Showcase, Schaffer is focusing on being a distributing guard, besides a scoring guard.
"Everybody on the team can score," Schaffer said. "I am doing what I can to put them in a role in trying to score. That is something I have been working on for the summer."
Schaffer and his Alabama teammates admired the moment of reaching the NCAA Tournament, getting to the 2nd round before being shot out by eventual national champion Villanova.
Even though the team lost freshman Colin Sexton, Alabama is solid in experience in 2018-19 to make a run at contending with the elites of the SEC such as Kentucky, Florida, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Auburn and Texas A&M.
Cullman Basketball Complex:
The facility is located on U.S. Highway 31 South, just outside the Cullman city limits and into the Phelan area.
Whitlock took over operating the facility last September. The complex consists of men's league play, plus individual workouts coordinated by Whitlock.
Whitlock told Sportspage Sunday night that he will be working with 30 individuals for this week.
The complex was previously a hydraulic shop and a cheerleading academy.
To find out more on the Cullman Basketball Complex, contact Whitlock at his cell phone 256-590-6994.
Photo 1: Cullman summer men's champion, the Hayden Legends.
Photo 2: Rampage players Cameron Guthrie, Colby Sullins and Dawson Foust (L-R) take a break during quarterfinal game with the Hayden Legends.
Photo 3: Nothing But Nets' Lawson Schaffer tries to get away from Toon Squad defense.
Sportspage photos by Johnny Thornton