Let’s skip the flowery lead and be completely honest with ourselves.
Since my arrival here at The Times in October 2012, two programs have dominated the varsity girls basketball scene in Cullman County.
Holly Pond and Cold Springs.
Denying that fact would simply bewilder the masses.
In their current three-year stretch, the two squads have combined for more wins, county titles, area tournament titles, sub-regional triumphs, regional victories and state tournament appearances than the other five county schools combined.
While the Lady Broncos’ success has come in the past few years, the Lady Eagles’ accolades extend far into the previous decade.
So, with the Cullman County Tournament set to begin today, is it that much of a surprise Holly Pond (No. 1) and Cold Springs (No. 2) anchor their respective bracket yet again?
While Scott Adams and Tammy West aren’t going to stylishly pull out the sunglasses and proclaim, ‘Deal with it,’ any time soon, the longtime coaches have to be proud of their programs’ accomplishments.
In my experience, history tends to repeat itself. With that said, I think most casual basketball fans in the area would almost all have these two squads meeting in the championship game for the second straight year.
If it were 2012, 2013 or even the infant stages of the 2014 season, I’d almost be in agreement with them, too.
However, as Bob Dylan might say, “The Times They Are a’Changin’.”
Fairview, which has struggled mightily over the years, defeated those same Broncos 52-48 earlier this month for their first victory versus that particular county rival since 2006.
West Point — the same squad that only won three games in 2013 — already has 15 wins under first-year coach John Welborn — including Hayden’s Christmas Classic.
And you can’t forget Good Hope, either. Steady as usual under coach Michael Oldacre, the Raiders have split two bouts with both the Aggies and the Warriors this season — adding more parity to the tourney.
Hanceville has even shown a renewed toughness — beating Class 4A defending champion Oneonta to open its campaign and collecting more wins in the past three months than nearly the past three years.
What does that mean for this year’s tournament, you ask?
To be honest, probably nothing.
West Point lost its best player, Mallory Walker, to a wrist injury, both Fairview and Hanceville are still rebuilding from ruins and Good Hope’s offense struggles a little bit too much for my tastes — although the Red and White play some of the best defense in the county.
Sure, an upset could happen. No doubt. However, I fully expect to see and write about a rematch between Holly Pond and Cold Springs.
The Broncos put on a defensive clinic in last year’s 45-25 triumph that was a sight to behold. Although key players like Natasha Holcombe and Rachel Finley — as well as Chloe Harbison and Haley Freeman — aren’t going to be on the floor for Saturday’s potential showdown, the exciting teams offer more than enough firepower to appease those in attendance inside Tom Drake Coliseum.
Holly Pond won the first matchup on the road 69-58, while the Eagles earned a hard-fought 66-61 road victory a short time later.
I should probably refrain from making a final pick — you know, so I’m able walk into gyms without wondering about being pelted by eggs.
With everything I’ve seen this season from both teams — on the floor and against common opponents — I’m giving a slight edge to West and the Lady Eagles to garner their first county crown since 2010.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m right.
Either way, I can’t wait.