By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times
With the regular season winding down, the time has come for local basketball teams around the county to prove what they’re made of, starting with area tournament play beginning this upcoming week.
Six local basketball squads — three boys, three girls — head into the postseason with hosting duties for their respective area tournaments.
Both Holly Pond teams, as well as Good Hope's and Cold Springs' girls, were able to make it through their respective areas with perfect 6-0 records.
Two teams that needed some help — Fairview’s and Cold Springs’ boys — were able get it late in the season. The Aggies garnered their regular season area title by winning a coin toss, while Cold Springs secured a top seed with a Lamar County victory over Oakman back in January.
The remaining teams in the county will all be on the road for their area tournaments as they look to extend their seasons to the sub-regional round, which will begin on Monday, Feb. 11 and, hopefully, a trip to regionals shortly thereafter.
Area winners and runners-up both receive sub-regional games — a home game for the winner and an away game for the runner-up. A win in that contest will advance teams to regional play, whereas a loss will mark the end of the road.
Class 3A, Area 12 — Boys
Host: Holly Pond
Coach Mitch Morris’ team enters its area tournament playing some of its best basketball to date. The No. 7 Broncos are 20-5 on the season and have easily dispatched of all of their area foes this year.
Holly Pond will play fourth-seeded Brindlee Mountain on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The Broncos have beaten the Lions by an average of 32 points in their two meetings.
The other semifinal matchup pits New Hope versus J.B. Pennington. The winner of that game will face the Holly Pond/Brindlee Mountain winner for the area championship on Monday, Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m.
Class 2A, Area 14 — Boys
Host: Cold Springs
The Eagles enter their area tournament with a 4-2 record against their Area 14 foes this season.
With Chayse Elliott, Triston Chambers and Layne Rice leading the way on the offense, Cold Springs hopes to take care of its first-round opponent, Lamar County, on Friday at 7 p.m.
The Eagles have dispatched the Bulldogs both times this season by scores of 71-50 and 60-47, respectively.
The winner will advance to take on the victor of the other semifinal matchup between Oakman and Sulligent at 5:30 p.m.
The area championship will be Monday, Feb. 11 at 7 p.m.
Class 4A, Area 13 — Boys
The Aggies have lost three straight contests but will look to get things turned around just in time for tournament play with a game against Vinemont on Monday.
Coach Greg Boatright’s squad garnered area-hosting rights after winning a coin toss earlier in the week.
Fairview will take on St. Clair County Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The Aggies have defeated the Saints twice this year by a total of 33 points and hope to add to it with a third win on Friday.
A victory for Fairview would earn them a matchup against the winner of Locust Fork and Oneonta, which is scheduled to take place before the Aggies’ game at 6 p.m.
The area championship is slated for Monday, Feb. 11 at 6:30 p.m.
Class 3A, Area 13 — Boys
Three county teams will duke it out for the right to be crowned Area 13 champion.
Hanceville squandered a chance to host area and will travel to Danville to take on Vinemont on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The Bulldogs have squeaked out razor-thin victories over the Eagles this season by scores of 50-49 and 59-57.
The Hanceville/Vinemont winner will advance to take on either Good Hope or top-seeded Danville.
The Raiders have played well as of late and will look to pull the upset to keep their postseason hopes alive when they take on the Hawks at 6 p.m.
Like in the other semifinal matchup, these two teams have gone down to the wire both times this season, with Danville eking by with 45-41 and 56-55 wins over Good Hope.
The area championship game will tipoff on Monday, Feb. 11 at 6:30 p.m.
Class 5A, Area 15 — Boys
Host: East Limestone
Perhaps the most interesting of area matchups comes from Cullman and West Point’s area bracket.
The Bearcats and Warriors will face-off for the fourth time this season, with West Point holding a 2-1 advantage, including a win on a neutral court. The game is set for Friday at 7:30 p.m.
For coaches Bobby Meyer and Randy Jones, it’s win or go home.
Whoever comes out on top will battle it out with the winner of East Limestone and Hartselle (6 p.m.) for an area championship.
That game will take place on Monday, Feb. 11 at 6 p.m.
Class 1A, Area 14 — Boys
Host: Decatur Heritage
St. Bernard’s and Addison will meet Tuesday in a play-in game to determine who makes it into the semifinals of their area tournament.
A win will earn either the Saints or the Bulldogs a matchup with top-seeded powerhouse Decatur Heritage Friday at 8 p.m.
Neither team has come within 20 points of the Eagles this season.
The other semifinal matchup consists of Meek and Falkville.
The championship game will be played Monday, Feb. 11 at 7 p.m.
Class 3A, Area 12 — Girls
Host: Holly Pond
The No. 7 Lady Broncos have been on a tear in recent weeks, winning the county tournament and coasting to easy victories since.
At 23-4, Holly Pond enters its area tournament as the clear favorite and will take on J.B. Pennington on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The Broncos are 2-0 against the Tigers this season.
The other semifinal matchup will consist of Brindlee Mountain and New Hope and will tipoff at 6 p.m.
The championship game will be Monday, Feb. 11 at 6 p.m.
Class 2A, Area 14 — Girls
Host: Cold Springs
Despite a disappointing finish at this year’s county tournament, the Lady Eagles are still poised to do some damage in their area tourney.
Cold Springs (18-6) will play host to fourth-seeded Oakman on Thursday at 7 p.m. The Eagles have defeated the Wildcats going away in both games this year.
The winner of Cold Springs/Oakman will take on Lamar County or Sulligent in the area championship game, which takes place Monday, Feb. 11 at 5:30 p.m.
Class 3A, Area 13 — Girls
The Lady Raiders overcame a slow start to their season and got things turned around big-time, eventually earning a runner-up finish at the county tournament back in January.
Good Hope is no stranger to postseason play, having made it to the Final 4 the past two seasons. To continue that trend, the Raiders will need to take out winless Hanceville on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
Good Hope is 2-0 against the Bulldogs this season.
The other matchup consists of third-seeded Vinemont and Danville. Coach Lance Lay’s Eagles have shown signs of good basketball at times throughout the season and will need to be on their A-game Thursday night if they hope to keep playing.
The Hawks have bested Vinemont by 10 and 17 points so far this season.
The time and date for the area championship game is unknown.
Class 4A, Area 13 — Girls
The Lady Aggies will have their hands full at their area tournament.
Fairview will take on Locust Fork, Thursday at 7:30 p.m. for a chance to extend its season.
The Aggies have dropped both of their games against the Hornets this season.
The other semifinal matchup consists of Class 4A, No.1 Oneonta and St. Clair County. That game is set for 6 p.m.
The Area 13 championship game tips off Saturday, Feb. 9 at 2 p.m.
Class 5A, Area 15 — Girls
Cullman and West Point enter their area tournament as the (2) and (4) seeds, respectively.
The Bearcats have had a see-saw season, but hope to make a return to regionals in a couple of weeks.
To do that, they will need to get by a tough East Limestone team on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
The Bearcats split two games with Indians this season.
The other semifinal matchup consists of top-seeded Hartselle and West Point. The Warriors have lost both matchups to the Tigers by five points. If West Point wants to continue playing basketball, coach Regina Jones’ squad will have to find a way to get by Hartselle on Thursday at 6 p.m.
The championship game will take place on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 6 p.m.
Class 1A, Area 14 — Girls
The Lady Saints will battle it out with Meek on Monday to determine who will take on top-seeded Falkville in one semifinal of the Area 14 tournament. The game is set for 5:30 p.m.
St. Bernard defeated the the Tigers by one point early in the season, but dropped their most recent affair by 17.
The other semifinal matchup will be Decatur Heritage and Addison.
The title game is slated for Saturday, Feb. 9 at 4 p.m.