E.A. Sports Today

A year without regionals?

Several contingencies on table in the event COVID-related changes are needed to have a state basketball tournament; updates on Calhoun, Talladega, Etowah county tournaments

Friday’s games
Alexandria at Moody
Anniston vs. Sipsey Valley
Cleburne County at White Plains
Collinsville at Ranburne
Coosa Christian at Westbrook Christian
Faith Christian at Ragland
Hokes Bluff at Glencoe
Horseshoe Bend at Donoho
Jacksonville at Ashville
Piedmont girls at Pleasant Valley
Springville girls at Oxford
Wellborn boys at Ohatchee
Wellborn girls at Saks

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

This already has been a basketball season unlike any other, what with COVID-19 quarantines of players and teams, canceled holiday tournaments and more shifts in schedules than a football backfield in motion.

What could make it even crazier? Some might even say apropos considering the climate of the times.

How about a basketball season without regionals? There is a COVID contingency on the table where the traditional regionals would be bypassed this year and the teams would play at home sites on their way to Birmingham, thereby reducing the risk of a super spreader event at specific venues.

The annual gathering at four venues across the state, including Jacksonville State, to determine the year’s Final Four fields at the BJCC is one of the most anticipated attractions of the year. 

The state high school athletic association very much wants to leave them as is – the regionals are a money-maker for them and keeps the competition frenzied – but it also is aware of what’s happening in the world, even though it has done a good job of avoiding being the bad guy by placing the decision to play on individual schools. 

Many schools have adopted the 20-percent capacity rule just to keep the gates open, even at considerable expense to the nightly bottom line.

When it comes to postseason play there are three contingencies being considered:

* Leave the regionals as they are, likely clearing the arena after every game for sanitizing and crowd control purposes

* Play the subregion round and Round of 16 at home sites, then come to Jacksonville, Hanceville and Montgomery for the region championship games

* Play all three playoff rounds at home sites, similar to the football and baseball playoffs, with the region bracket winners converging at the BJCC for their respective Final Fours.

Of course the state hasn’t discussed this with any of the four regional venues yet and will probably wait as late as logistically possible to preserve its desire to keep the tournament format as normal as possible

But these are the things that are out there, confirmed by sources familiar with the process, so stay tuned.

COUNTY TOURNAMENT: Game times for the first day of the Calhoun County Basketball Tournament at Saks High School Jan. 16 are set.

Boys: No. 11 Donoho vs. No. 14 Wellborn, 10 a.m.
Girls: No. 11 Faith Christian vs. No. 14 Wellborn, noon
Boys: No. 7 Alexandria vs. No. 10 Pleasant Valley, 2 p.m.
Girls: No. 12 Pleasant Valley vs. No. 13 Jacksonville Christian, 4 p.m.
Boys: No. 12 Weaver vs. No. 13 Ohatchee, 6 p.m.

The championship games are Jan. 23 at Jacksonville State at 6 and 8 p.m. The other game times at JSU will be set based on the results to allow boys and girls teams from the same school playing on the same day playing back-to-back to promote social distancing and other COVID-19 protocols.

THREE-POINT SHOOTOUT: The annual F&M Bank 3-Point Shootout and Half Court Shot will look a lot different this year. As we’ve reported earlier, the contestant will be determined by a fan vote during the week of the tournament with the top vote-getting taking the Half-Court Shot for a $10,000 scholarship.

The top boys and girls vote-getter in the poll will be in line for a $500 scholarship.

Contest organizers are currently canvassing the county’s basketball coaches for their nominees, which do not have to be a senior. The contestants will be profiled on the F&M Bank Facebook page, where fans will be able to vote their choice. It’s one vote per player, but voters can ‘like’ multiple players.

It is hoped the voting can begin Jan. 15.

TALLADEGA COUNTY TOURNAMENT: The Sylacauga boys and Winterboro girls have pulled down the No. 1 seeds in their respective Talladega County Basketball Tournament brackets. This year’s tournament will be played at the site of the higher seed to satisfy COVID-19 attendance protocols.

Here are the pairings (game times TBA)

Girls Bracket
Jan. 18
No. 9 Munford at No. 8 Sylacauga
Jan. 19
Sylacauga-Munford winner at No. 1 Winterboro
No. 7 Lincoln at No. 2 B.B. Comer
Jan. 20
No. 5 Talladega at No. 4 Childersburg
No. 6 Fayetteville at No. 3 Talladega Co. Central
Jan. 21
Jan. 23
Championship game

Boys Bracket
Jan. 18
No. 9 Fayetteville at No. 8 Talladega Co. Central
No. 7 Munford at No. 2 B.B. Comer
Jan. 19
Fayetteville-TCC winner at No. 1 Sylacauga
Jan. 20
No. 6 Lincoln at No. 3 Talladega
Jan. 21
No. 5 Childersburg at No. 4 Winterboro
Jan. 22
Jan. 23
Championship game

ETOWAH COUNTY TOURNAMENT: The Etowah County Tournament starts Jan. 18 at Glencoe. The first two days are boys-girls doubleheaders between the teams listed with the winners advancing to play the bye teams. Here is the schedule.

Jan. 18
Sardis vs. Gaston, 5 p.m.
Jan. 19
West End vs. Glencoe, 5 p.m.
Jan. 20
Sardis-Gaston winners vs. Southside, 5 p.m.
Jan. 21
West End-Glencoe winners vs. Hokes Bluff, 5 p.m.
Jan. 22
JV Girls Championship game, Sardis vs. Southside-Glencoe winner, 4 p.m.
JV Boys Championship game, 5:30 p.m.
Girls Championship game, 7 p.m.
Boys Championship game, 8:45 p.m.

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