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January 29, 2014

LOCAL SPORTS: CCYBA to take center stage at UAB’s Bartow Arena

CULLMAN — The Cullman County Basketball Tournament may be in everyone’s rearview mirror, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that county tourney play has come to an end.

In fact, taking into account the venue, this Saturday’s games

between Hanceville and Sacred Heart (sixth-grade girls) and Hanceville and Holly Pond (sixth-grade boys) might be the crown jewel for all local teams in the area.

Following the University of Alabama-Birmingham’s basketball contest with East Carolina on Saturday afternoon, two county titles will be on the line for the aforementioned teams.

The inaugural event is part of an agreement struck between the Blazers and the Cullman County Youth Basketball Association.

“Over the past four or five years, we have taken members of our association down to a UAB hoops game,” said Bill Caldwell, president of the CCYBA. “They were looking for something for our association to do.

I had the idea that if we could get 1,000 seats filled, we could play our sixth-grade championship games there at the arena. They got with their people and said OK.”

According to Caldwell, the girls game will get under way about 30 to 45 minutes following the conclusion of the Blazers’ game versus the Pirates — slated for a 2 p.m. start. The short break will allow teams and coaches to fulfill media obligations before turning over the venue to the local stars.

UAB is currently offering a promotional code for $10 tickets, which will be good for all three games. Those in attendance for the county championships will be able to move down to the lower level for a better view.

“All the coaches are excited, as are the parents and players,” Caldwell added. “We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from the community for this event.”

With more than 960 tickets sold so far — and an expectation of more than 1,000 total — it certainly seems as though the first event is off to a roaring start.

Should attendance and feedback exceed standards, Caldwell is hoping to turn the newly minted event into a longstanding deal for the next few years.

“We’d certainly like to do that,” he said. “My contacts with UAB feel like if this goes over well, we could make it happen.”

% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 136 or at jwinfrey@cullmantimes.com.

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