Lady Tigers still winners
Justin Schuver, Sports Editor
If there was any justice in the world, the AHSAA would have issued an edict allowing the Class 5A Regional D to permit three teams to go to the state tournament.
Anyone who was at Hartselle's volleyball regional Saturday in Fort Payne saw that the Lady Tigers and Muscle Shoals Lady Trojans were as evenly matched an opponent as any two teams could be.
The event was a grueling one, spread out over eight hours and involving a total of eight teams before whittling down to three – Huntsville, who was on a completely-different level from anyone and will probably repeat as Class 5A champions, and the familiar Area 16 foes of Hartselle and Muscle Shoals.
There are a total of 16 teams who are eligible to make it to the Regional D Tournament, and out of those 16, two of the top three came from the same area. The probability of that happening is almost impossible.
In the end, one of those two stellar teams had to be left out, and Hartselle was the unfortunate one.
You've got to give credit to Muscle Shoals, however. A program doesn't win four straight state championships from 1999-2002 without doing some things right, and the Lady Trojans knew how to win when they needed to win.
But the Lady Tigers have nothing to be ashamed about, either.
And now, for this week's picks:
Florence Falcons (5-4) at Hartselle Tigers (5-4): All of sudden, this game means everything to the Tigers' playoff chances. A win, and there's a good chance they will squeak through, while a loss would all but doom their hopes. Florence is not a bad team, but they've yet to play a squad that will be as desperate as Hartselle…Tigers 20, Falcons 14.
Speake Bobcats (3-6) at Danville Hawks (4-5): It's been a difficult year for Coach Burch and his Hawks, who started the year with high hopes but will miss the playoffs. Their neighbors from Speake have fewer than 20 varsity players, and Danville's depth will help the Hawks to an easy victory over their Class 1A foe…Hawks 35, Bobcats 7.
Falkville Blue Devils (3-6) at J.B. Pennington Tigers (3-6): Falkville's final record won't look too impressive, but it won't matter to the playoff-bound Blue Devils. They won the games they needed to win, and Friday they'll just try to keep everyone healthy for the postseason…Tigers 24, Blue Devils 14.
Brewer Patriots (1-9) at Fairview Aggies (3-6): This one is pretty hard to pick. Brewer squeaked past Fairview 42-41 in 2004, but that game was in Florette. I'll go with the home team this time, in a squeaker…Aggies 27, Patriots 24.
Priceville Bulldogs (4-5) at West Limestone Wildcats (1-8): This year's Bulldogs won't be the first team in Priceville history to advance to the playoffs.
They will, however, have an excellent chance to finish with a .500 record…Bulldogs 31, Wildcats 21.
Utah State Aggies (2-5) at Alabama Crimson Tide (7-0): This game isn't even worth a two-sentence analys-is…Crimson Tide 49, Aggies 6.
Mississippi Rebels (3-4) at Auburn Tigers (5-2): Maligned kicker John Vaughn and the rest of the Tigers look for retribution against Ed Orgeron and the Rebels.
You might worry about Auburn looking ahead to its next game in a matchup like this, except the Tigers' next game is against Kentucky…Tigers 31, Rebels 14.