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February 17, 2014

NORTHWEST REGIONAL TOURNEY PREVIEW: Five of state’s six No. 1 girls teams set to take stage at Wallace State

(Continued)

CULLMAN — Class 5A

% Pleasant Grove (23-7) vs. East Limestone (26-7), Wednesday at 9 a.m.

% Cullman (19-10) vs. No. 1 Wenonah (23-7), Wednesday at noon

% Pleasant Grove: The Spartans opened the season winning 11 of their first 12 contests. They bounced back from a 76-54 loss to Wenonah in the Area 13 Tournament final with a sound thumping of Hayden (76-58) last Friday to grab its spot in the tournament.

% East Limestone: Brennan Crabtree and Rachael Diamond have been a dangerous tandem this year for the Indians. The two regularly score 20-plus points a game in wins and aren’t too shabby in losses, either. East enters Wednesday as winners of 12 of its past 14 games.

% Cullman: Jonathan Hayes and Co. are making their third regional appearance in the past four seasons. The Bearcats upended Muscle Shoals 53-52 on the road to earn their berth.

Baylee Johnson is an All-State caliber guard who can drop a 30-spot on any given night. However, role players like Hayden Short, Oakleigh White and Christina Skinner — who had 27 versus the Trojans — can also be dangerous for the Black and Gold.

% Wenonah: The prohibitive favorite entering Wednesday’s opening round is without a doubt the top-ranked Dragons, who won their last three games by an average of 31 points. They’re a dynamite defensive squad, too, holding 14 of their opponents to less than 40 points in blowout wins.

Class 4A

% Locust Fork (18-9) vs. No. 5 Priceville (26-4), Thursday at 3 p.m.

% No. 1 Oneonta (29-6) vs. Rogers (17-15), Thursday at 6 p.m.

% Locust Fork: The Hornets just missed out on an area title in a 45-43 loss to Oneonta. However, they rebounded quite nicely with a bruising 61-44 victory over J.O. Johnson. They also won eight of their last 11 games, with all three L’s to Oneonta.

% Priceville: Winners of six straight and 20 of 22, the Dawgs come into the Northwest Regional riding plenty of momentum. Priceville punctuated its turnaround season with a trio of laughable wins over Haleyville, East Lawrence and Central.

% Oneonta: Last year’s 4A state champions haven’t missed a beat in their follow-up season. The Redskins are, once again, back in Tom Drake Coliseum to defend their crown. Coach Amber Deline’s squad is a defensive nightmare for opposing teams, showcased in its 81-38 victory over Ardmore in the sub-regional round.

% Rogers: The Pirates capped off its run to regionals with a big Area 16 Tournament title and a razor-thin 55-53 triumph against East Lawrence. Rogers won nine of its final 14 games down the stretch.

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