Cherokee County boys, Sand Rock girls earn No. 1 seeds
CENTRE — The Cherokee County Warriors are back in a familiar spot.
The three-time defending county basketball tournament champion Warriors were tabbed the top seed of this year’s varsity boys tournament by the county basketball coaches last Wednesday evening.
The tournament, hosted by Sand Rock, will be played Thursday through Saturday at the Gadsden State-Cherokee Arena. Admission is $5 per day. The Warriors (9-4) begin defense of their crown on Jan. 13 at 5: 30 p. m. against the winner of Gaylesville (6-8) and Sand Rock (4-10). Those two teams play on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
Spring Garden (8-5) tangles with Cedar Bluff (6-8) in the other tournament semifinal game on Jan. 13 at 8:30 p.m.
The boys tournament title game is set for Saturday at 7 p.m.
Cherokee County boys coach Neal Wester said the tournament seeding “doesn’t really matter” because of how competitive the teams are in the county, particularly this season.”
“It doesn’t put points on the board,” Wester said. “Our guys know it’s important every time they step on the court. I think they’ll be fired up to play, and to try and prove we’re the best. That’s our goal.
“Each year is a new team. We’ve got young guys who have moved up and guys who are playing different roles. Even though we won it last year, they feel like they have something to prove this year without the guys we had last year. They’re looking forward to the challenge.”
On the girls’ side, Sand Rock (11-4) earned the top seed. The Lady Wildcats open tournament play on Friday at 4 p.m. against the winner of Cedar Bluff (4-11) and Gaylesville (3-11).
The Cedar Bluff-Gaylesville game is set to tip off on Thursday at 6 p.m.
Three-time defending county champion Spring Garden (10-5) battles Cherokee County (8-5) in the other tournament semifinal on Friday at 7 p.m.
The tournament championship game is scheduled for Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Like Wester, Sand Rock girls coach Lisa Bates doesn’t put too much stock in seeding.
“I’d rather be on top in the end than at the beginning,” she said. “I just hope we show up and play like I know they can play.
“It (top seed) doesn’t mean a whole lot, but it does put you in a better position. There are some tough teams this year. Three of the teams in the tournament have really close records. It really was not set as to who was going to have the best overall record. We weren’t sure where we were going to fall, but the girls can be proud of being No. 1. Maybe they’ll play like a No. 1, I hope.”
The last time Sand Rock’s girls won the county tournament was 2010. Bates knows it will be a challenge for the Lady Wildcats to end that six- year drought.
“It’s going to be whichever team during that three- day stretch plays well,” she said. “Nothing’s for sure. It depends on who plays well on those days -- who hits some shots, who plays some defense, who really wants it more.
I’m hoping we can step up to the challenge, because it is going to be a challenge. I think it’s going to be a really good tournament.”
In the B- team boys tournament, Spring Garden takes on Cedar Bluff at 4 p.m. on Thursday, followed by Cherokee County and Sand Rock at 5 p.m. The championship game is set for Saturday at 4 p.m.
Cherokee County and Sand Rock’s girls will do battle for the B-team girls championship, which is scheduled for Saturday at 3 p.m.