The zone game takes over

January 4 — Happy New Year and welcome halfway to a high school basketball championship.

The season officially started on November 4. Here we are two months later, on January 4th. The finish line is expected in two months around March 4.

It’s time for the season to shift into high gear with zonal games taking over. Then we have zone tournaments and hopefully sub-regional, regional and national tournaments for many teams in the zone.

Tonight’s schedule includes several high-profile matches. Some of the bigger ones include Hartselle in Decatur, Bob Jones in Austin, Danville in East Lawrence, Winston County in Falkville, and Lawrence County in West Point.

It really heats up on Friday with zonal games involving Cullman at Hartselle, Lindsay Lane at Decatur Heritage, West Morgan at Brooks, Guntersville at Brewer, Falkville at Cold Springs, Priceville at Randolph, Lawrence County at Russellville and Mae Jemison at East Limestone.

Getting off to a good start in zonal play is of crucial importance for any team. This week could be huge for the boys and girls at Decatur. The Red Raiders host Hartselle tonight, then visit Austin on Friday.

The game with Hartselle is a Class 6A, zone 14. After tonight, the Red Raiders will have five zone games over the next three weeks with Cullman, Muscle Shoals and Hartselle.

The Austin game at Decatur is not a zone game. It’s just the River City rivalry. The momentum of a victory in this rivalry can go a long way in building confidence in the surface game.

The Black Bears swept the Red Raiders in the first meeting on Dec. 3 in Austin. The boys won 63-52, after being tied for the fourth quarter at 50-50. Jalen Orr led Austin with 23 points. Isaiah Slaughter dominated Decatur with 21.

The Austin girls used a 12-0 streak to claim a 46-41 victory over Decatur. The teams met last week in the DOC at Decatur High with Austin winning again, 46-31.

County tournaments

January is also the time for departmental tournaments. Champions Morgan, Lawrence and Limestone will all be crowned on January 22.

The West Morgan Rebels are hosting the Morgan County Tournament starting January 17. Hatton is the host school for the Lawrence County tournament starting January 20. The Limestone County Tournament begins January 15 in Ardmore.

More tournaments

Since we are talking about tournaments, here are the playoff dates. Regional tournaments for girls are scheduled from February 5 to 11 and for boys from February 5 to 12. The sub-regional dates for girls are February 14 and for boys, February 15.

The dates for the regional game are February 17-24, with Northwest Regional playing again in Wallace State-Hanceville and Northeast Regional in Jacksonville State.

Most of the area schools go through Northwest Regional in Wallace. Five area schools pass through the Northeast Regional in Jacksonville State. These are Decatur Heritage, Lindsay Lane and Athens Bible in 1A, Priceville in 4A and Brewer in 5A.

The state’s tournament schedule runs from February 28 to March 5 at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center. It’s a return to the BJCC for the state tournament. The construction of the BJCC forced last year’s state tournament to be split between UAB’s Bartow Arena and CrossPlex.

[email protected] or 256-340-2395. Twitter @DD_DavidElwell.

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