• 68°

Area brackets revealed

Fresh off of marquee wins, Linden and John Essex have each turned their attention to the upcoming Class 1A, Area 5 tournament.

Brackets for the event were officially released Monday.

“It’s the area tournament,” Linden head coach Joe Eatmon said. “We’ve worked hard all season to host the tournament. But when it boils down to it, we’ve still got to win it.”

His squad finished 7-1 in the area and earned the right to host the event.

The team wrapped up its week Saturday night with a 36-33 home win over Demopolis.

After falling to Demopolis on Dec. 27, the Patriots have reeled off a 10-game win streak.

“It was big for us. Our guys were very, very excited about that win,” Eatmon said of the victory. “That was special for us to go back and beat the team that was the last team to beat us.”

Eatmon’s team will not take to the court for competition again until it travels to Livingston Saturday night.

“We need the rest,” Eatmon said. “We got a late start. We’ve been playing at least three games a week.”

While Linden will enter the tournament as the No. 1 seed, the John Essex Hornets will head into the bracket as the No. 2 seed, thanks to a 53-48 win it secured over Sunshine Friday night.

That victory not only handed JEHS the No. 2 seed, but prevented it from falling into a potential coin-flip situation with Sweet Water to determine the No. 3 seed. The No. 4 seed in the tournament must face the No. 5 seed in a play-in game.

As the brackets took shape, JEHS head coach Rodney Dixon learned his team would have to duplicate its success in the tournament’s opening round against the No. 3 seed, Sunshine.

“I see the same thing I saw the other night,” Dixon said of the opening-round matchup. “A hard-nosed, tough ball game.”

The Hornets split the season series with Sunshine, winning on their home floor and losing at Newbern.

“We’re looking forward to playing Sunshine at Linden’s court,” Dixon said. “We played them (at John Essex) and beat them. We played them (at Sunshine) and they beat us. Now we’ll really get to see who the better team is.”

The tournament action will tip off at Linden High School at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 3, when No. 4 seed Sweet Water faces No. 5 seed A.L. Johnson in the play-in game.

The action resumes Friday, Feb. 6, at 5:30 p.m., when John Essex takes on Sunshine. Immediately following that game, the top-seeded Patriots will face the winner of the game between Sweet Water and A.L. Johnson.

The tournament’s championship game is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 9. The teams that advance to the tournament’s title game will advance to sub-regionals.

“It’s still wide open,” Eatmon said, “and anything can happen.”