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Tournament owes us extra entertainment

High school basketball in Chilton County has reached an all-time low.

Long relegated to the back seat on the sports road trip by football (the driver) and baseball (the passenger), basketball has finally reached a breaking point.

Both boys and girls teams have been decimated because their players have either quit or been suspended. The rumblings about college football-like middle of the season coach firings have grown into roars. Thorsby, much like Jefferson County and its sewers, is struggling to escape the enormous debt piled up when it decided to renovate its gymnasium.

It’s gotten so bad that there will be no county basketball tournament this year.

I’m kidding, of course. There are plenty of positive things happening with county basketball programs this season (read the story above about Verbena’s girls team). But I was serious about one thing: there will be no county basketball tournament this year.

OK, that’s just being technical. There is a tournament scheduled this season, on the week of Jan. 5. But that’s the 2009 calendar year. And the tournament for last season? You guessed it – the tournament was held in December 2007. So, no 2008 county basketball tournament.

Because we’re having to wait so long, this season’s tournament better be good. The teams, I’m sure, will live up to their end of the bargain.

On the boys side, Chilton County High appears the favorite again. The Tigers won last season’s tournament in a classic over Maplesville, but most of the Red Devils are gone from that squad. CCHS, meanwhile, is playing at a high level, especially on defense. Jemison is much improved and could be the only team that could match up, purely from an athleticism standpoint, with the defending champions.

The girls half of the tournament appears wide open. Last year’s champ, Thorsby, didn’t lose many players but has struggled so far. The Rebels are young and without depth and could have a hard time repeating. The team Thorsby defeated in the championship game, CCHS, is playing for a new coach in Misty Jones. The Tigers had a hard time putting away Maplesville in the latter team’s first game, and several other squads appear to be close to those three. It might come down to which team can win a few games and thus gain some momentum headed into the tournament.

Oh, wait, the tournament will give almost everyone their first contest after a break for the holidays. Maybe the games will be that much more interesting.

Because we went more than one year without a tournament, they had better be more interesting.