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Plenty to gain from playing in tourneys

Basketball might be the most unappreciated sport in Chilton County.

Besides simply not being as popular as football, for boys, or softball, for girls, it is sandwiched in between those sports. Guys are beat up after a tough season, and girls don’t want to sprain an ankle and potentially miss playing time in the spring.

Some coaches lead the varsity and then a B-team or junior high squad without any paid help.

There’s another aspect of the winter sports season that makes basketball difficult: the extended break from school right in the middle. Most teams had played 10 games or so before school let out for the holidays on Dec. 17 and will have about the same number of games left when students return to their classrooms on Jan. 6.

Just when the players start to get this basketball thing figured out, they’re away from the court for three weeks.

Most are away from the court, anyway.

Several local teams have participated in holiday tournaments in an effort to keep their teams sharp and better prepare them for the postseason.

Chilton County this week advanced to the championship game of the Champion Sports Medicine Shootout at Calera High (see story to the right). Verbena organized a Christmas Classic tournament last week, and the Red Devils also traveled to Oak Grove for a tournament this week. Jemison participated in both the Calera and Verbena events.

These teams will have an advantage early next month because they’ll be in synch while other squads are trying to shake off the rust (or get back into shape after eating too much Christmas turkey).

Also, expect the Tigers, Devils and Panthers to play better come playoff time because they will already have a feel for playing in strange environments and against skilled teams from different areas of the state.

Basketball season is difficult from the start because of the way it is set up, and the only solution is to work even harder than everyone else.