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Catching up with hoops area races

Jerry Hinnen / Sports editor

With less than two weeks remaining in the regular season, several area races are beginning to take shape and some are still very much up for grabs. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the more notable recent developments:

* The Demopolis Lady Tigers lost their first Area 5 game, on the road at Thomasville way back on Dec. 9, but have since gone 4-0 (avenging the loss Jan. 6) and thanks to Greene County’s win over Thomasville this week, now control their own destiny for the regular season area crown. Given that Demopolis won in comfortable fashion over their three remaining opponents (Livingston, Greene County, and Choctaw County) it seems very likely the girls Area 5 tourney will again come to Demopolis.

* The rest of 1A Area 8 will have a very hard time catching either the Sunshine boys or Sunshine girls. Both sets of Tigers swept the first four games in the five-team area, and although three of those were at home, none of their area rivals has emerged yet as a serious challenger. The John Essex boys, Area 8 champions in 2005, have struggled on the road, falling to both Akron and American Christian. Hosting the area tourneys would be a huge boost for the Tigers, as their homecourt advantage has already help them upset teams like Demopolis (girls, boys) and Greensboro (boys).

* As expected, R.C. Hatch’s boys and girls’ teams have wrapped up the top seed and right to host the 2A Area 6 tournament. The Bobcats will be exceedingly tough to topple playing at home, but they can’t book their regional tickets to Mobile just yet: both Keith teams will provide challenges in the area tourney (the Bears’ boys team is the state’s new 2A No. 10) and finishing runner-up in the area tourney would mean a likely sub-regional game against No. 1 Altamont (boys) or No. 6 Calera (girls).

* Francis Marion and Sumter County will tangle twice in the next week–Saturday in York, next Friday in Marion–and while the dominant No. 1 Sumter boys should be able to salt away the 3A Area 6 title, the girls’ games will be tight, competitive, and will decide the regular season area crown.

* If there’s any team that can start looking ahead to their sub-regionals, it’s the Greensboro girls, who have simply dominated their foes in 4A Area 6 (Dallas County, Bibb County, and Jemison). The boys will join them in hosting the area tournament with a win on the road in Centreville Friday night against Bibb Co., who they defeated earlier in the season.

* While the Greene County boys control their own destiny in 4A Area 8, the Tigers still have two pivotal games remaining: on the road at Demopolis Monday and hosting a rejuvenated Livingston team the following Friday. With Demopolis and Livingston tangling Friday night, any of the three could still claim the area’s top seed by sweeping their next two (barring a massive upset from either Choctaw County or Thomasville, which, trust me, isn’t happening). It gets very complicated, though: If Demopolis wins out and Greene County defeats Livingston, DHS and GCHS (each at 7-1 in area) will flip a coin for the area title; if Demopolis wins out and Livingston defeats Greene County, DHS will win the title outright; if Livingston wins out and Greene County defeats Demopolis, Greene County (7-1) would win the title outright with Livingston (6-2) as second seed and Demopolis (5-3) third; and if Livingston wins out and Demopolis defeats Greene County, the teams would have a three-way coin flip at 6-2. And if Greene County wins out, as noted, they win the area title outright. Got that?

Of course, by the time you read this, Demopolis and Livingston have already played and not all these scenarios are still in play. To check the results of Friday night’s biggest area tilt, log on to www.demopolistimes.com.