Week 10 scoreboard:
Good Hope 27, Fayette Co 22
Fairview 34, Danville 6
Holly Pond 38, Vinemont 20
Fort Payne 37, Cullman 22
Hayden 20, West Point 7
Sulligent 22, Cold Springs 8
Locust Fork 35, Hanceville 8
Addison 50, Hatton 8
RAIDERS ACCOMPLISH A HUGE VICTORY:
Good Hope presented coach Alan Scott his biggest victory in four seasons when the Raiders scored with less than 30 seconds to play on a 40-yard Bailey Quick TD pass to Matt Dixon, stunning No. 4 ranked Fayette County 27-22 at Waldon Tucker Stadium.
The Raiders had defeated the Tigers for the first time ever and complete 4A, Region 5 in a three-way tie for the lead with Fayette and Northside at 5-1.
Good Hope is 8-1 and has compiled a 4-1 road record in 2018.
The Raiders were 0-10 in 2016 and have gone 12-7 in the last two years. A tremendous turnaround by coach Scott and his staff.
ANOTHER PLAYOFF BERTH CLINCHED BY THE BRONCOS:
Holly Pond continues its turnaround story. Between 2013 to 2015, the Broncos were 1-29.
From 2016 to the present season, the Broncos have gone 19-10 and are headed to the 3A playoffs for the third consecutive year.
Holly Pond defeated Vinemont 38-20, eliminating the Eagles and clinching the 4th seed in Region 5. Mike Bates' Broncos have posted four wins in five tries this season at Thomas-Michelfelder Field.
COLD SPRINGS GOES FROM PLAYOFF CONTENDER TO OUT OF PLAYOFFS:
Through the first four weeks of the season, the Cold Springs Eagles were soaring with a 4-0 record. But the last five weeks have been painful to Rod Elliott's squad.
A chance to clinch a playoff berth Friday turned into being eliminated from the postseason by a 22-8 loss to Sulligent at Cranford Stricklin Stadium.
The Eagles had an 8-0 lead in the first half, that could not be kept throughout the contest. The Eagles have suffered through five consecutive losses with one game remaining on the schedule.
ADDISON PERFORMS EXTREMELY WELL TO CLINCH 2A, REGION 7 TITLE:
Holding on to a 6-0 lead after the first quarter, the Addison Bulldogs took matters into their own hands. Three touchdowns in the second stanza, two coming in the final minute of the half enabled the Bulldogs to trounce Hatton 50-8 at A.G. Hicks Stadium.
Addison is tied for 1st in 2A, Region 7 with Red Bay and Colbert County at 5-1. The Bulldogs will be seeded first in the upcoming playoffs on the strength of having their defeated non-regional opponents compile more victories than Red Bay's and Colbert County's.
Addison led 28-0 at the half with the late second quarter surge, then added three TDs in the third period to build a 50-0 advantage. David Smothers' Bulldogs wrap up the regular season 8-2, posting a 4-1 home record. The Bulldogs are 26-4 in the last three years in regular season play.
ADDING A WIN TO THE RECORD:
Fairview and Danville moved its game up to Thursday evening, so both teams could support their volleyball squads in the AHSAA North Super Regional Friday in Huntsville.
Fairview demolished Danville 34-6, improving its record to 4-5 and finishing 5th in 4A, Region 7 at 3-4. The Aggies have turned this around after a 2-7 record in 2017, the worst during the George Redding era. Fairview is 3-0 vs. Morgan County schools this year, defeating Priceville, West Morgan and Danville in regional action.
SEASON ENDS WITH A TOUGH LOSS:
Optimism was on the side of the Cullman Bearcats through the first half of the season with three victories in five games for new coach Matt Plunkett.
But the momentum the Bearcats experienced in the first half, went awry in the final five games. The Bearcats failed to pick up a victory in October, ending the season Friday with a 37-22 loss in Fort Payne. A 3-7 record is the fewest victories for a Cullman team in a single season since 1996 when they were 4-6.
CAN'T GET RID OF LOSING STREAKS:
With one game remaining for the following teams, each eye the final week of the 2018 schedule determined to break a losing skid.
Hanceville has lost eight straight after the Bulldogs were beaten 35-8 by Locust Fork Friday.
A 2-0 start for West Point has gone to seven consecutive losses. The Warriors had some costly turnovers in the 2nd half that kept them from getting the ball into the end zone and dropped a 20-7 decision to Hayden. West Point went 0-7 in 5A, Region 7.
Vinemont was 2-2 at the midway point of the season. A 38-20 setback to Holly Pond knocked the Eagles out of the postseason and presented the Eagles their fifth consecutive defeat.
NEEDING HELP IN FINAL WEEK OF REGULAR SEASON:
Good Hope will be going to the 4A playoffs for the first time on the second weekend of November. But in order to get a 1st round game at James Shabel Stadium, the Raiders are going to need some help.
Good Hope, Northside and Fayette County finish 5-1 in Region 5. The Raiders must have Dora to beat Fayette County at home next Thursday. That would prevent Fayette from having the most wins by defeated non-regional opponents. Fayette's wins against defeated foes is at 12, with five to be added if the Tigers down Dora.
Northside has 10 wins over non-regional teams, Corner, Brookwood and West Blocton. A win over Sipsey Valley in Week 11 will give them 15 total and put them first in this format.
Then 2nd place would go on head to head as Good Hope edged Fayette County Friday night 27-22. The Raiders would be at home vs. the No. 3 seed from Region 7 and not have to go on the road to the runner-up from that region, either DAR, Randolph or St. John Paul. That has to be settled this week in tiebreaking procedures.
THIS WEEK IN LOCAL FOOTBALL:
Cold Springs (4-5) at Vinemont (2-7) (Thursday) (WKUL-FM)
Hanceville (1-8) at Good Hope (8-1) (Friday) (WKUL-FM)
Holly Pond (6-3) at Fairview (Friday)
Cordova (1-8) at West Point (2-7)
Addison (8-2) is idle
Cullman (3-7) season over.
Photo of scoreboard at Waldon Tucker Stadium Friday night in Fayette. Good Hope upsets No. 4 Fayette County 27-22. Photo courtesy of John Hood.
WEEK 9 SCOREBOARD:
Good Hope 27, Curry 0
Hartselle 20, Cullman 7
J.B. Pennington 34, Vinemont 14
Corner 14, West Point 6
Tarrant 34, Cold Springs 27
Fultondale 40, Hanceville 20
Randolph 41, Fairview 12
Holly Pond - Idle
Addison 44, Tharptown 0
RAIDERS LOCK DOWN A PLAYOFF BERTH:
Good Hope's 27-0 victory at Curry has given the Raiders a chance to go to the playoffs in Class 4A for the first time. The Raiders will be at least third in 4A, Region 5, but have a chance to improve their status if they can upset Fayette County on the road next week. The Raiders' seven regular season wins are the most since they compiled a 7-4 record in 2013. The Raiders are officially the first team from the county in 2018 to punch their ticket to the postseason.
TIGERS OWN THE BEARCATS AT THE PRESENT TIME:
Hartselle leads the all time series vs. arch rival Cullman 48-45-4 after a 20-7 triumph Friday evening at J.P. Cain Stadium. The Tigers have won the last five matchups between the two. Cullman's last time at success against the Tigers was a 14-6 victory in 2013. Hartselle clinched the No. 1 seed for 6A, Region 7 with the win, officially knocking Cullman out of the playoff picture.
BETTER RECORD ON THE ROAD:
In defeating Vinemont 34-14 Friday, J.B. Pennington improved to 4-0 on the road in 2018. The Tigers are only 1-3 in home games. The win by the Tigers keeps them in a second place tie with Midfield in 3A, Region 5 heading into the final week of regional play next Friday. Pennington concluded a sweep of Cullman County foes for the second straight year, defeating Hanceville, Holly Pond and Vinemont in the process.
ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN:
Fairview was unfortunately eliminated in the playoff chase by Randolph 41-12 at Dafford Smith Stadium. The Aggies fell to 2-4 in 4A, Region 7 with the Raiders currently tied for 2nd at 5-1 with DAR. DAR will play at No. 4 seed St. John Paul next week while Randolph gets to host top seed North Jackson. Fairview will officially be 5th once the regional schedule is completed next week, with the Aggies traveling to Danville.
UNABLE TO HOLD ON:
Victory was in the grasp for West Point on Friday when the Warriors broke a halftime scoreless battle against Corner, getting a TD in the third quarter and a 6-0 lead. However, Corner came back with a pair of touchdowns afterwards and toppled the Warriors 14-6. The Warriors suffered their sixth straight loss and will experience their first losing record since 2013.
WINNING A DAY EARLIER:
Addison's game with Tharptown got moved a day earlier as Tharptown was out of school for Friday. The earlier assignment by the Bulldogs was routine with Addison posting a 44-0 rout, taking a 24-0 lead after the first quarter. Addison is locked in a three-way tie for the top spot in 2A, Region 7 with Colbert County and Red Bay as each have one regional game left on the schedule.
PLAYOFF PICTURE ENTERING THE FINAL WEEK OF REGIONAL GAMES:
Good Hope at Fayette County: In 4A, Region 5, Fayette County is 5-0, Northside is 2nd at 4-1, Good Hope 3rd at 4-1, followed by Curry at 3-2. Raiders seek their first ever victory against Fayette County, Northside will travel to Curry. Raiders are guaranteed at least a 3 seed in the playoffs from this region.
Sulligent at Cold Springs: In 2A, Region 5, Aliceville has clinched the No. 1 seed at 6-0, Tarrant is 4-1, Winston County 3-2, Cold Springs 2-3, Sulligent 1-4, Southeastern 1-4, Sumiton Christian 1-4. Eagles have to defeat Sulligent or see their playoff opportunity go up in flames. Aliceville is done in region play as Tarrant visits Southeastern and Winston County goes to Sumiton Christian in other games in Region 5 for the final Friday in October.
Vinemont at Holly Pond: It can be simplified by a Holly Pond victory in 3A, Region 5. It can become complex if the Eagles earn a victory at Thomas-Michelfelder Field. Fultondale had wrapped up No. 1 at 6-0, J.B. Pennington and Midfield have a 4-1 record, then it's Holly Pond 2-3, Vinemont and Locust Fork 1-4 and Hanceville 0-5. Midfield visits Pennington for 2nd place this week. Locust Fork will host Hanceville. Holly Pond takes the 4th seed into the playoffs by a win. A 3-way tie for the final berth is possible with Vinemont defeating Holly Pond and Locust Fork winning over Hanceville.
Hatton at Addison: Colbert County has completed its 2A, Region 7 schedule with a 5-1 mark. Addison and Red Bay come into the final week of the region at 4-1. Hatton and Sheffield follow with 2-3 records. then 1-4 Tanner and 0-5 Tharptown. Red Bay will be a heavy favorite to defeat Tharptown the same evening Addison hosts Hatton. Sheffield is in a game with Tanner. Tiebreaker procedures are probable if the Bulldogs run the table vs. the Hornets, along with Red Bay. Overall records have Addison 7-2, Colbert County 6-3 and Red Bay 6-2. Colbert has the week off.
Sportspage file photo by Johnny Thornton
BIRMINGHAM - Collegiate basketball is 40 years in the running for the University of Alabama in Birmingham.
It has gone through the process from starting at the bottom and working its way to the top. Gene Bartow was the man the school hired to begin the foundation, with Bartow lasting 18 seasons, producing 366 wins and nine NCAA tournament appearances.
From Bartow to his son, Murray, to Mike Anderson, Mike Davis, Jared Haase and now Robert Eshan in his third season, the Blazers are three wins shy of 800 all time with th e 2018-19 season less than a month from beginning.
Thursday was an exhibition encounter featuring a visitor from the Southeastern Conference.
The Georgia Bulldogs tangled with the Blazers at Bartow Arena, coming from behind to claim a 56-54 victory.
Georgia is in the process of trying to improve its program. The Bulldogs got rid of Mark Fox and replaced him with former Indiana coach Tom Crean. Welcome to the South Mr Crean, it will be very different from your time in the Big Ten.
From the battle of SEC vs. Conference USA, the SEC rep came to Bartow predicted to finish next to last in the 14-team league. UAB is projected third in C-USA behind Western Kentucky and Texas El Paso.
A crowd of 3,437, including yours truly, enjoyed a competitive game that indicated both teams were facing someone else than themselves for the first time in the fall.
Things that both teams will need to work on as they move ahead will be free throw shooting at first. Neither set a great example in being accurate from the stripe. UAB was 12 of 20 for 60 percent with Georgia seven of 13 for only 52 percent.
Georgia doubled up UAB in turning the ball over. The Bulldogs committed 20 to the Blazers' 10. That led to 23 points for the Blazers off Georgia miscues. Georgia collected 11 points.
UAB gave up a dozen second chance points and was outscored by Georgia reserves 33-14.
However, the game was tight all the way. The largest advantage on either side was six points. The lead changed sides on the scoreboard 10 times, plus seven ties.
For coach Crean, he was in the Magic City for consecutive days. On Wednesday, Crean attended the SEC Media Days in Mountain Brook with guard Jordan Harris.
Then the following night, his first game in his new position, coming to the Magic City. It's not often, even in an exhibition game that the winning team comes out on top, doubling up its opponent in turnovers. Georgia guards must do a better job once they enter conference play or there will be many long nights for the team in red and black.
UAB has to execute better when running plays. The three-point shooting was off and 60 percent accuracy at the foul line will not present many winning chances.
The Blazers do have some interesting opponents to deal with in their non-conference schedule.
A trip to Huntsville November 29 awaits UAB in a contest at Alabama A&M. The University of North Alabama enters its first season as a Division I program in the NCAA and will come to Birmingham December 4.
UAB resumes one good old rivalry December 8 when the Blazers head to Memphis. A week later, the Auburn Tigers come calling to Legacy Arena at the BJCC.
Conference USA games start on January 3 with the Blazers hosting Florida Atlantic. The final home game in the regular season will have the Blazers playing the University of Charlotte February 9.
The C-USA tournament will be at the end of the month in Frisco, Texas. UAB hopes to be a serious contender and punch a ticket to the NCAA. The Blazers are eager to return to March Madness for the first time since 2015.
UAB basketball is worth taking an hour drive South, if you live in and around Cullman County. The atmosphere was energetic Thursday evening and will be throughout the season. Go Blazers!
Photo 1: Crowd of 3,437 in attendance Thursday at Bartow Arena for UAB/Georgia.
Photo 2: Georgia's Jordan Harris (2) tries to inbound ball against UAB's Tavibn Lovan.
Photo 3: UAB coach Rob Ehsan kneeling in first half action against Georgia.
Photo 4: Cullman County natives working in UAB athletics department at the basketball game. Bailee Yearwood (left) is from West Point and Dawson Boyd is a native of Fairview.
Sportspage photos by Johnny Thornton
TALLADEGA - Something that is most common in watching NASCAR compete at Talladega Superspeedway Sunday did not happen.
The largest track on the circuit did not experience the commonly known "Big One." A multiple accident in the late stages of the Monster Energy NASCAR cup race, whether it's in the spring or during the fall season.
But that didn't keep the overflow crowd of fans on the edge of their seats.
A minor accident involving three cars at lap 185, sent the 1000bulbs.com race into overtime.
That presented the thrill of victory to one driver and the agony of defeat to others.
Races at Talladega, under NASCAR rules, are to be completed under a green flag. This caused a re-start with the race being extended by five laps, finishing on lap 193.
This situation benefited Aric Almirola, the winner. It didn't for Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keslowski.
Busch, who dominated the race, leading 108 laps, ran out of fuel on the final lap and coasted to a 14th place finish.
Harvick and Keslowski had to go into the pits and get a splash of fuel at the start of the final lap, that took them from the chance of crossing the line first.
Drivers, with their crew chiefs, run gambles. Had it not been for overtime, Busch would have had to fight off Harvick and Keslowski from making a hard charge to the checkered stripe.
But Almirola, one of four vehicles owned by Stewart-Hass racing, was able to stretch his fuel and make it count, passing Busch on the backstretch and leading for the only time of the day. That would be the last lap of the fall race at Talladega.
It was a turn of events for Almirola, who was at the top of the lead for much of the previous race in Dover. But an accident late in the event kept him from entering victory lane.
In seeing several races at this sports spectacular in East Alabama, my first since 2001, the drivers displayed more discipline than many give them credit in running at Talladega.
The 2.66 mile oval allows cars to go three wide and sometimes, four wide, especially in the backstretch.
One slight error can result in the common item, a crash that can take out 20 vehicles in one segment.
All accidents Sunday were due to the driver losing control of the vehicle, not getting hit by another to cause a chain reaction.
A majority of the race consisted of single-file running for an average of the Top 10 drivers per lap.
It was in the late stages of the race where it was hot and heavy, thanks to a gap caused by four of the Stewart-Hass vehicles, being pursued by the rest of the field.
In attending my first fall race at Talladega, plus seeing the new format NASCAR has here in the race going under stages. Stage 1 ends at lap 55, Stage 2 is completed at lap 110, then a re-start with everyone in contention for the final 78 laps to complete a total of 188 laps, 500 miles.
Busch was the dominant driver for the first stage, Harvick stayed atop the field for Stage 2 and both were where they wanted to be prior to the accident on lap 185 and overtime stepping into play.
Almirola is an unsung hero. Taking over car No. 10 that had been driven in recent years by Danica Patrick, Almirola hung near the front all day and was able to cash in on the opportunity on unfortunate luck caused by the overtime procedure.
I can endure Kurt Busch as far as his ability to battle it out with the best each Sunday. It is his brother, Kyle, that is not a favorite of mine in this sport. Or in the case, others too.
When the driver's introduction took place, Kyle received a huge sound of boos. There is fans who pull for him in car No. 18, but many don't, due to Busch being at times, overly aggressive and carries an attitude to say the least.
With Dale Jr and Jeff Gordon now a memory for retirement, a lot of NASCAR fans express tremendous love toward Jimmy Johnson, a veteran of the sport, as well as Harvick, Joey Logano, Keslowski, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman and Denny Hamiln.
Then you have young rising racers like Chase Elliott (son of legend Bill Elliott), Trevor Bayne, William Byron, Bubba Wallace, Ty Dillon, Austin Dillon and Erik Jones, trying to make a name for themselves.
Almirola will now embed his name in the list of first time winners at the "World's Fastest Speedway." handling the issue with precision. His memory of failure in Dover has been erased for being in the right place at the right time in Talladega.
Racing at Talladega in the fall and especially on the same weekend in which Alabama and Auburn played football games at home, never phased the situation as far as attendance.
Capacity is 78,000 for the largest speedway in NASCAR. So for back to back days of exciting fall sports in this state, three events combined for 265,000 fans on hand.
This was a twist of fate for me to see a race here for the first time in 17 years.
I follow NASCAR as well as I can in a busy schedule of going from football to volleyball and cross country for the fall in my backyard.
With the ending being dramatic thanks to overtime, this will cause me to pay more attention to it for the remainder of the season.
NASCAR now has a playoff format, with Talladega being the seventh race of the structure in the total of 12. The playoff run began on Labor Day weekend with the race at Darlington and has been to Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Richmond, Charlotte and Dover before the second Sunday visiting Alabama.
Now Almirola and company will be bound for Kansas Speedway next weekend as the run for the playoffs continue. The season ends in approximately a month at Homestead-Miami speedway.
The Midwest will get to enjoy a weekend of excitement that was just put on display here in good ole Alabama.
Photo 1: Pink pace car leads Kurt Busch and others off Turn 4 at Talladega.
Photo 2: Brad Keslowski's car prior to race time in the pits.
Photo 3: Joey Logano leaves the pits during an early caution in Talladega.
Photo 4: Lyn St. James being interviewed prior to race. St. James set a record at Talladega for fastest speed by woman driver at 204.233 mph in 1985.
Photo 5: NASCAR fan Debbie Stapler of Arab watching the Lyn St. James interview near the finish line at Talladega, before the race.
Photo 6: Pole sitter Kurt Busch (41) in the pits during pre-race situation.
Photo 7: Crew taking Jimmy Johnson's #48 to pit lane prior to start of Sunday race.
Sportspage photos by Johnny Thornton
Cullman County High School volleyball tournament
At Vinemont Gymnasium
# 4 Good Hope vs. # 5 Vinemont 3:00 (Court 1)
# 3 Cold Springs vs. # 6 Holly Pond 3:00 (Court 2)
# 1 West Point vs. GH/VM winner 4:00 (Court 1)
# 2 Fairview vs. # 7 Hanceville 4:00 (Court 2)
Elimination bracket game 5:00 (Court 1)
CS/HP winner vs. FV/HV winner 5:00 (Court 2)
Elimination bracket game 6:00 (Court 1)
Elimination bracket game 6:00 (Court 2)
Elimination bracket game 3:00 (Court 1)
Winner's final 4:00 (Court 1)
Elimination bracket game 5:00 (Court 1)
Championship 6:00 (Court 1)
If needed game 7:00 (Court 1)
Cold Springs: Lady Eagles # 3 seed. 26-6 record as of Oct. 12.
Champions in St. Bernard Invitational Sept. 15. Have won 16 in a row after victory over Southeastern Oct. 11.
Key personnel: S Emi Harbison, OH Emma Chambers, OH Anna Kate Voce, BRD Kinley Campbell.
Lady Eagles have blended together through the season for coach Brendan Voce, earning a Top 10 ranking in Class 2A. They will be hosting the Area 12 Tournament Oct. 22.
Fairview Lady Aggies # 2 seed. 34-12 record as of Oct. 12.
Champions in Decatur Heritage Invitational Oct. 6. 6-3 record in October. Longest winning streak was 11 between Sept. 4 and Sept. 11.
Key personnel: OH Daisy Manasco, OH Micah Means, OH Katie Ball, MH Tess Bailey. Lady Aggies had been without Means for a couple of weeks with foot injury. The coaches' daughter was to return to action Oct. 11 in a quad match at home vs. Ashville, Susan Moore and Holly Pond.
Fairview is the defending county champion.
Good Hope Lady Raiders # 4 seed. 12-16 record as of Oct. 11.
Lady Raiders have upset 4A Top 10 team Priceville on the season and knocked Oneonta out of a 1st place tie in 4A, Area last week.
Key personnel: S Chrissi Smith, S Sylar Tucker, OH Alee Jackson, MH Jesse Kent, OH Abi Orton.
Good Hope has been a very competitive squad all season, despite not having a winning record. Jackson, Kent, Orton have raised their level of play in the last several weeks.
Hanceville Lady Bulldogs # 7 seed. 0-12 record as of Oct. 12.
Holly Pond Lady Broncos # 6 seed. 3-18 record as of Oct. 11.
Key personnel: MH Makenna Folds, S Kara Hollis, LH Cassandra Carter, MH Maddie Heatherly.
Vinemont Lady Eagles # 5 seed. 14-13 record as of Oct. 11.
Lady Eagles are having a winning season for the first time in several years, prior to hosting the county tournament.
Key personnel: S Maddie Oliver, OH Rachel Hall, OH Liv Johnson, RH Sadie Stanley.
West Point Lady Warriors # 1 seed. 34-3 record as of Oct. 12.
Lady Warriors ranked 4th in last week's 5A state Top 10. Had won 20 consecutive matches prior to losses to # 7 Lawrence County and # 8 East Limestone. The Lady Warriors regrouped last Saturday in winning the Falkville Invitational. It was their third championship they have claimed in the fall.
Key personnel: MH Lexi Shadix, OH Mackenzie Carter, S Selena Clark, MH Josie Huckaby, OH Molly Pendley.
West Point has gone through county competition without a loss so far prior to the county tournament.
WEEK 8 SCOREBOARD:
Good Hope 23, Haleyville 7
Fairview 31, West Morgan 14
Locust Fork 38, Vinemont 32
J.B. Pennington 28, Holly Pond 0
Winston Co 40, Cold Springs 8
Muscle Shoals 47, Cullman 17
Dora 50, West Point 29
Addison 43, Tanner 18
HOW THE TEAMS STAND IN REGION PLAY:
Cold Springs: Eagles 2-2 in 2A, R 5, currently in 4th place.
Cullman: Bearcats are 1-3 in 6A, R 7, currently in 5th place.
Fairview: Aggies are 2-3 in 4A, R 7, currently in 5th place.
Good Hope: Raiders are 3-1 in 4A, R 5,currently tied for 3rd place.
Hanceville: Bulldogs are 0-4 in 3A, R 5, currently in last place.
Holly Pond: Broncos are 2-3 in 3A, R 5, currently in 4th place.
Vinemont: Eagles are 1-3 in 3A, R 5, currently in 5th place.
West Point: Warriors are 0-4 in 5A, R 7, currently in last place.
Addison: Bulldogs are 3-1 in 2A, R 7, currently tied for 1st place.
FIRST TIME VICTORY ENJOYABLE:
Good Hope got its first ever win against Haleyville, thanks to big time plays from the defense and 10 points in a span of 2:00 in the 4th quarter to break open the game.
The Raiders went up 16-7 on a 29-yard Walter Perez FG with 9:10 left, then a 63-yard TD run by Colton Bagwell with 7:14 remaining, presented them with an insurance score. The Raiders forced the Lions into throwing 2 interceptions in the second half and stopping them two other times on fourth down plays, one inside the 1-yard line in the 3rd quarter.
REPLAY DOES WORK:
Instant replay is being used by less than 10 percent of schools sanctioned by the Alabama High School Athletic Association. But the process is working. Two plays were under review in the Haleyville-Good Hope game, with neither being overturned after the referee reviewed the video.
The Raiders stopped Haleyville on a fourth and goal play inside the Good Hope 1 early in the third period, then correctly threw a pass on a fourth down from inside the Raider 10, when the Lions challenged on the catch being made by an eligible receiver. Four times so far in games played at Good Hope have been replayed this season, with the call by the officials remaining in favor for the Raiders.
Good Hope has one home game left on November 2 vs. Hanceville for instant replay to be used.
WIN BY AGGIES KEEPS THEM IN THE PLAYOFF CHASE:
A week after getting thumped 78-12 by North Jackson, Fairview is still alive for a possible playoff berth out of 4A, Region 7. The Aggies rallied from a 14-8 halftime deficit to defeat West Morgan 31-14, improving to 2-3 in regional play and 3-4 for the season. North Jackson is on top of the regional standings, followed by Randolph, DAR and St. John Paul.
The Aggies will need to upset Randolph at Dafford Smith Stadium next week, followed by win at Danville, in order to be a playoff team in their return to the 4A level for the first time in five years.
GETTING TIGHT AT THE TOP OF THE REGION:
Addison got some help from Red Bay Friday evening, when the Tigers stunned Colbert County 12-7. It knocked Colbert from an undefeated role in 2A, Region 7. Colbert is 4-1 with Addison 3-1, Red Bay 3-1, Sheffield 2-2, Hatton 2-3, Tanner 1-3 and Tharptown 0-4.
Key games in this region next week include Colbert County playing Sheffield, Red Bay taking on Tanner with Addison playing at Tharptown. The Bulldogs host Hatton on October 26 to close out the regional schedule and also end the regular season.
UNTOUCHABLE AT HOME:
So far in 2018, Good Hope is 4-0 at home, the only team in Sportspage's coverage area to be undefeated in that category. The Raiders will look for perfection on November 2 at James Shabel Stadium when rival Hanceville comes to visit.
GETTING THE BEST OF ANOTHER COUNTY:
Fairview has enjoyed defeating two schools from Morgan County in two tries. The Aggies shut out Priceville on September 21, then posted a 31-14 comeback victory Friday at West Morgan. Fairview will look to go 3-0 against their neighboring school system when they travel to Danville October 26 to end 4A, Region 7 play.
FAILING TO SCORE FOR FIRST TIME IN THREE YEARS IN REGULAR SEASON PLAY:
Holly Pond failed to put points on the scoreboard in a 28-0 loss at J.B. Pennington Friday night. It was the first time since a 40-0 loss to Fairview on September 25, 2015, ending a string of 32 consecutive regular season games in which the Broncos had scored.
ANOTHER LOSS ON THE EAGLES' RECORD:
Starting the season at 4-0, the Cold Springs Eagles have gone in the opposite direction with three consecutive losses. The 40-8 defeat at home Friday night to Winston County is very damaging, putting the Eagles from 2nd in 2A, Region 5 to 4th, heading into a game next week at Tarrant.
UNABLE TO HOLD THE LEAD:
In a see-saw battle, Vinemont turned a 9-6 halftime deficit with Locust Fork into a 26-9 lead in the third quarter. Locust Fork would answer, going ahead 30-26 in the fourth period before Vinemont rallied and led 32-30 with 7:00 to play. However, the Eagles could not stay in front, giving up a TD and 2-point conversion with 1:39 left and the Hornets won it 38-32. The loss has the Eagles 1-3 in 3A, Region 5, currently in 5th place a half game behind Holly Pond's 2-3 record.
NEXT WEEK IN REGIONAL PLAY WITH PLAYOFF IMPLICATION:
Cold Springs at Tarrant: Eagles visit the Wildcats who are 3-1 and 2nd in 2A, R 5 behind leader Aliceville (5-0). Eagles are 2-2, going from 2nd to 4th from the loss to Winston County on homecoming.
Good Hope at Curry: Two squads that are 3-1 in 4A, R 5. Raiders only loss has been to Northside (4-1). Curry lost to Fayette County (4-0). Fayette County plays Haleyville next week, Northside is idle. Raiders have a visit to Fayette County the week following the Curry game.
Randolph at Fairview: Aggies (2-3) have to take down the No. 2 squad from 4A, R 7 on the home turf. A loss to the visitors from Huntsville will eliminate them from the postseason.
Pennington at Vinemont: Pennington is right in contention at 3-1, tied for 2nd with Midfield who lost to Fultondale 20-14 Friday. Fultondale (4-0) plays at Hanceville (0-4) the same time the Eagles (1-3) entertain the Tigers. A win would give them the same record as Holly Pond (2-3) who is idle and will host Vinemont the following Friday.
Addison at Tharptown: Bulldogs (3-1) will tangle with an 0-4 club in Northwest Alabama, trying to stay at the top of 2A, R 7. Colbert County (4-1) plays Sheffield (2-2) with Red Bay (3-1) getting Tanner (1-3) on the third Friday in October.
Addison wraps up regional play the following week at home vs. Hatton. Bulldogs own tiebreaker with wins against Red Bay and Sheffield, if they finish in a tie. Addison lost the week before to Colbert County, who is down to its final game in the region next week.
Photo of Good Hope defense trying to slow down Haleyville in the 1st quarter Friday.
Sportspage photo by Johnny Thornton
WEEK 7 SCOREBOARD:
Holly Pond 36, Locust Fork 10
Athens 19, Cullman 16 (OT)
Fultondale 33, Vinemont 12
Northside 42, Good Hope 27
Jasper 54, West Point 20
North Jackson 78, Fairview 12
Midfield 70, Hanceville 18
Colbert County 35, Addison 8
Cold Springs - Idle
CURRENT STANDINGS IN REGIONAL PLAY:
Cold Springs: Eagles 2-1 in 2A, R 5 (Tied 2nd with Tarrant)
Cullman: Bearcats 1-2 in 6A, R 7 (5th place)
Fairview: Aggies 1-3 in 4A, R 7 (Tied 5th)
Good Hope: Raiders 2-1 in 4A, R 5 (Tied 3rd)
Hanceville: Bulldogs 0-4 in 3A, R 5 (Last place)
Holly Pond: Broncos 2-2 in 3A, R 5 (4th place)
Vinemont: Eagles 1-2 in 3A, R 5 (5th place)
West Point: Warriors 0-4 in 5A, R 5 (Last place)
Addison: Bulldogs 2-1 in 2A, R 7 (2nd place)
WINNING STREAK ENDS:
Good Hope was the last local team to remain undefeated. It ended for the Raiders after five games with a 42-27 loss in Tuscaloosa County to Northside. The loss dropped the Raiders from a first place tie with Fayette County in the region to a third place tie with Curry. Both teams see one another on October 19 in Curry. Before that, the Raiders next week host Haleyville with Curry on the road to play Cordova.
MOVING AHEAD ON AN OPPONENT:
In posting a 36-10 victory Friday vs. Locust Fork, the Holly Pond Broncos jumped ahead of the Vinemont Eagles who fell to Fultondale 33-12 at Mark Smothers Stadium. The Broncos are 2-2 in the region, trailing J.B. Pennington by one game in the standings. The Tigers are 2-1 and had Friday evening off. Vinemont slipped to fifth place with a record of 1-2.
HEARTBREAKER STRIKES AGAIN:
First-year coach Matt Plunkett has seen his Cullman Bearcats go from emotional last second winning to heartbreaking defeat. Athens knocked off the Bearcats 19-16 in overtime Friday night in 6A, Region 7. The Bearcats have lost two games at home this season in the closing moments on field goals. Mortimer Jordan edged Cullman 18-16 in week two. This one is more painful for Cullman is on the outside looking in for the regional standings. Cullman is 1-2 and tied with Decatur, but the 'Cats lost to the Red Raiders in week three. Hartselle leads the region, followed by Athens and Muscle Shoals, then Decatur for the top four berths to enter the playoffs. Cullman needs to defeat Muscle Shoals and Hartselle in order to punch a ticket to the postseason.
MOMENTUM TAKEN AWAY BY PENALTY:
Vinemont had momentum against 3A, Region 5 co-leader Fultondale when Dustin Moore had an interception returned the length of the field for a touchdown before time expired in the second quarter. But a penalty wiped out the score and the Eagles trailed 13-0 at the break, not 13-7.
Vinemont fumbled inside its 10 on its first play of the third period as Fultondale scored moments later and would score again in the quarter to turn a two-touchdown advantage into a 26-0 lead after the third. The Eagles tallied a pair of TDs in the fourth, scoring on the last play of the contest, falling by the final score of 33-12.
A series of mistakes once again saw the possibility of winning against a ranked opponent become another defeat for the Eagles, who have lost two in a row and three of their last four assignments.
LOOKING AHEAD TO NEXT WEEK:
Winston County at Cold Springs: Eagles welcome Yellow Jackets to Cranford Stricklin Stadium, trying to hold on to 2nd in 2A, Region 5. Tarrant is tied with the Eagles at 2-1 as the Wildcats play at Sulligent. Region leader Aliceville (4-0) will go to Southeastern (1-2).
Muscle Shoals at Cullman: Bearcats (1-2) have to shake off the effects of the OT loss to Athens, in order to remain in the playoff chase. Muscle Shoals is 2-1, tied for 2nd with Athens. Athens will host 0-3 Columbia. Region 7 leader Hartselle (3-0) visits 1-2 Decatur. Muscle Shoals and Athens have yet to play this season.
Haleyville at Good Hope: Raiders lost ground on being defeated by Northside. Now 2-1 in 4A, Region 5, the Raiders have to fight off pesky Haleyville at home. Good Hope enters next week tied for 3rd with Curry, who defeated Haleyville 27-13 the same night the Raiders lost to Northside. Fayette County stands atop the region at 4-0 and is idle for next Friday. Northside (3-1) gets 0-4 Oak Grove at home, Curry will be playing at Cordova (0-3). Haleyville is 5th overall at 1-2.
Holly Pond at J.B. Pennington: Broncos set their sights on their neighbors from Blountsville. Pennington is 2-1 in 3A, Region 5, a game ahead of the 2-2 Broncos. First place is up for grabs as 4-0 Fultondale entertains 3-0 Midfield. Broncos can slide ahead of the Tigers for third place if they can pull off winning at Sutton Memorial Stadium.
Vinemont at Locust Fork: A must win stares in front of the Eagles in 3A, Region 5. With a 1-2 record, the Eagles dropped to 5th after the loss to Fultondale. Locust Fork is 0-3 in the region following the loss to Holly Pond. Hornets can spoil the Eagles' quest of a postseason berth as Vinemont joins Holly Pond from Cullman County by traveling to Blount County next week.
Tanner at Addison: Bulldogs will take down 2nd in 2A, Region 7 by running the table. Addison is 2-1 with wins over Red Bay and Sheffield. The Bulldogs host a Tanner team that is 1-2 in the region. Colbert County (4-0) visits Red Bay (2-1) in its next game with Sheffield (2-2) having the week off. Hatton (1-3) will host Tharptown (0-3).
5A, Region 7: Jasper (4-0) at Lawrence County (2-2), Hamilton (1-3) at Russellville (4-0), Dora (2-2) at West Point (0-4), Corner (2-2) at Hayden (1-3).
4A, Region 7: North Jackson (4-0) at Priceville (1-3), St. John Paul (3-1) at Randolph (3-1), Danville (0-4) at DAR (2-1), Fairview (1-3) at West Morgan (1-3)
Hanceville is idle.
Photo of Athens' game winning FG in OT vs. Cullman, courtesy of Cullman High School.
BIRMINGHAM - NBA basketball returned to the "Magic City" for the first time in 12 years with an exhibition game Tuesday evening between the Houston Rockets and the Memphis Grizzlies.
A crowd of 16,888 gathered inside Legacy Arena at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center. The game was created by former Houston Rocket Robert Horry, who was also a standout at the University of Alabama.
Under sponsorship by BBVA Compass Bank, the Iron City Showdown was a crowd pleaser in it being the first game for the two clubs in preseason play.
Those who follow the NBA, know the Rockets are a good ball club as they were a game away from reaching the championship series back in June.
The Rockets do have a trio that is talented as the likes of LeBron James, Steph Curry, Kevin Durrant. They were the attention getters for this exhibition.
James Harden is one of the premiere shooting guards in the league, being tough to defend since he is left-handed.
Chris Paul has plenty of game left in his 37-year old body, as long as he can stay healthy through a grueling 82-game schedule and four rounds of the postseason.
Carmello Anthony carries plenty of spirit and hard play from his forward position. All these three are wanting to add to their greatness is an NBA championship.
A preseason game was very much the pattern with plenty of personnel getting on to the floor for a two and a half hour contest. Harden appeared for 30 minutes, the most for the Rockets, with Paul getting 25 minutes and Anthony 23 minutes.
The game turned out very entertaining as Houston prevailed 131-115. In what can be considered amazing, the Rockets scored 100 points in the final three quarters. The Grizzlies had 83. The motto of the game was all offense and no defense, the trademark of the NBA.
People in the Magic City did well on this presentation. But in reality, could Birmingham prosper with a professional hoops team?
Basketball is a sport that has love and admiration. It was an opportunity for yours truly to see some of the best players in person. Attending NBA games is not that common, due to Atlanta being three hours away and Memphis a good driving distance from Cullman as well.
But the evening was memorable as the Alabama basketball team, including ex-Cullman standout Lawson Schaffer, came to the game following practice.
Legendary college coaches Wimp Sanderson of Alabama and Sonny Smith of Auburn had a courtside seat on the baseline near the South basket.
Plenty of youngsters wearing a James Harden jersey were there, as well as some wearing a Mike Conley jersey for Memphis.
The atmosphere was pleasing as far as I look at it and glad, I made this my assignment, aside from covering high school volleyball. Volleyball for 2018 has been good with local schools. Hopefully, they will forgive me for changing my schedule for one night. The important events for them are upcoming and yours truly will be there to report on the details.
With NBA preseason now under way, junior colleges in the state began practice this past Monday. The NCAA has been on the floor for about two weeks.
High schools in Alabama can hit the hardwood for fall practice starting October 15 with games to get under way the week of November 6.
Seeing the sport that stands above all that I cover tells me it's time to lace up the tennis shoes, put together a solid schedule of assignments and enjoy what the game does in being very entertaining.
I hope Birmingham can continue to bring in some more NBA games in the future. The plans to try and obtain an NBA franchise is right now a dream.
It's hard to tell if it can become a reality.
We will see how it develops.
Photo 1: Houston's James Harden (13) defends Memphis' Mike Conley (11).
Photo 2: From high above Legacy Arena inside the BJCC Tuesday night.
Photo 3: Houston PG Chris Paul (3) attacks the Memphis defense in 1st quarter.
Photo 4: Memphis trying to get the ball into center Marc Gasol (33).
Sportspage photos by Johnny Thornton