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Doesn’t seem time for basketball

By about 10 on Friday night, a lot of high school athletes and coaches across the state started thinking about basketball.

Well, maybe they’ll spend the weekend sulking about how the football season could have gone better. Or maybe just thinking how glad they are that the season is finally over.

But Monday will mark the official beginning of the season of the ball that bounces the way you expect it to. Teams could actually hold their first practices much earlier, on Oct. 13. But the overwhelming majority of local basketball players play football, also, so it takes an end of the football year for guys to hit the gym.

It doesn’t seem quite right. Nights are a little chilly, but our days are still in the 70s, far from time to take off the pads and put on the shorts. And think of someone like Verbena’s Jason Ray, all 6-foot-1 and 308 pounds of him. Ray can dominate a basketball game as a power forward but looks much more at home dominating a football game as a center and defensive tackle.

The Red Devils didn’t make the playoffs, though, so Ray and many others will be playing basketball next week no matter my feelings on the matter. Players on other local teams are more fortunate.

Billingsley, Chilton County High, Isabella, Jemison, Maplesville and Marbury are all playoff bound. That’s the good news. The bad news is that only one of these six teams, Maplesville, will host its first-round game. The top two seeds in each region host the third and fourth place teams from another region, so it’s in a squad’s best interest to play a home game to begin the playoffs.

Marbury, for example, must travel 130 miles toward the Mississippi line to face perennial power Gordo. CCHS has only a 30-minute trip up the road to Columbiana, but the Shelby County High team that awaits is 10-0 and ranked No 4 in the state.

The playoffs aren’t easy – they do determine state champions, after all. But it sure beats playing basketball in November.

The round ball can wait.