Hello, old friend.
So nice to see you again.
That's right, it's time for the Cullman County Basketball Tournament to begin.
The annual showdown is scheduled to get rolling this Saturday, and I for one can't wait.
Sure, I'll be fueled by lots of Taco Bell and an unreasonable amount of caffeine, but that's neither here nor there.
After all, we should just be happy it's being played.
So let's crown some champions, craft some memories and, of course, be ready to ridicule the predictions below — though I did correctly pick all four champions last season.
Blind squirrels. Nuts. All that.
THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN
In my opinion — humble, of course — there are only three varsity boys teams with a chance to snag the title.
Cold Springs, Good Hope and West Point.
Now, does that mean one of those squads will? No, but there'd have to be a handful of upsets along the way.
The Eagles boast wins over the Raiders and Warriors, while the latter two have split a pair of outings this season — each of those four matchups was decided by less than 10 points.
Cold Springs and Good Hope are set to tangle again on Friday in what could be a preview of the championship.
Or not. It is, after all, the Cullman County Basketball Tournament.
The last four No. 1 seeds have won the county title, so good news if you're an Eagles fan.
The Raiders, meanwhile, are seeking to become the first varsity boys team to notch three straight county crowns since Cold Springs accomplished that feat back in 1980.
The Warriors, on the other hand, are looking for their first county championship since 2012.
Speaking frankly, this is the first time since 2016 there isn't an overwhelming favorite in this bracket.
And that could — like an Auburn football coaching search — result in some crazy fireworks.
GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN
Let's take a closer — but no less clear — look at the varsity girls bracket.
I think it'll come down to Cold Springs, Fairview, Good Hope and West Point.
As for which squad will rise from that quartet? Well, your guess is as good as mine.
Fairview beat Cold Springs, which beat Good Hope, which beat Fairview, which beat West Point, which split with Good Hope and beat Cold Springs.
Still with me?
The Lady Warriors are seeking a third straight county crown under coach John Welborn, while the Lady Aggies (2018), Lady Eagles (2016) and Lady Raiders (2012) would each like a return to glory.
So who comes out on top?
West Point boasts arguably the best player in the county, Fairview sports the most experience, Cold Springs can drain 20 3-pointers in any given outing, and Good Hope has a ton of young talent that I'm convinced will — in the next couple of years — stake claim as the county's best inside Tom Drake Coliseum.
That didn't really answer the aforementioned question, did it?
A lot like watching a Royal Rumble, I'm not sure how this will unfold, what exactly will happen or who will triumph.
Sounds like the recipe for a great county tournament.
YOU'RE A SHINING STAR
These countless county tournaments wouldn't be possible without great kids and great players.
And like a Golden Corral buffet under good-to-excellent management, where do you even start?
Good Hope's Tanner Malin and West Point's Will Cochran are dynamite. The Raiders can throw out Lawton Farr and Noah Barnette, too, while the Warriors can counter with Kobe Bowers and Aubry Cleghorn.
Cold Springs, meanwhile, has several guys who can record 15 points in a pinch — Micah Calvert, Seth Williams, Brody Peppers, Tanner Kilgo and Adam Hill come to mind.
Fairview (Owen Yarbrough and Parker Martin), Hanceville (Zach Campbell and Izayah Glenon), Holly Pond (Parker Sellers and Levi Boatright) and Vinemont (Collin Teichmiller and Will Rhodes) bring their own playmakers to the court as well.
There's no shortage of talent in the other bracket, either.
Cold Springs (Toni West, Brooke Crider and Shay Sellers), Fairview (Molly McKelvy, Daisy Manasco, Emma Garcia and Maddie Yeager), Good Hope (Bailey Tetro, Ivey Maddox, Rudi Derrick and Heather Tetro) and West Point (Lexi Shadix, Ryleigh Jones and Braelee Quinn) have all developed some serious standouts.
Toss in Cassidy Campbell and Savanna McAnnally (Hanceville), Kaylee Stallings and Sarah Finley (Holly Pond), and Madysen Hacker and Maggie Burks (Vinemont), and suddenly it's easy to see why it's tougher than a well-done steak choosing All-Area teams at the end of the season.
And if you eat well-done steaks ... well, I don't know what to say to that.
I'm probably leaving out some names and for that, I apologize.
But as I've said a million times before in this annual column, that's what makes the county tournament so great.
Heroes both expected and unexpected come through when you most and least expect it. Here's hoping for more of that this time around.
AND THE OSCAR GOES TO ...
Varsity Boys: Good Hope over Cold Springs
Varsity Girls: Fairview over West Point
Junior Varsity Boys: Fairview over Good Hope
Junior Varsity Girls: Good Hope over Cold Springs