Column: Curry, Sumiton Christian keep regional tradition alive

By JOHNATHAN BENTLEY, Eagle Sports Editor
Posted 2/14/19

I enjoy York Peppermint Patties once a year — at the Northwest Regional Basketball Tournament in Hanceville.

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Column: Curry, Sumiton Christian keep regional tradition alive

Posted

I enjoy York Peppermint Patties once a year — at the Northwest Regional Basketball Tournament in Hanceville.

At the regional, members of the media are taken care of in the form of goodie bags handed out upon arrival. Call it a rare perk of the job.

Once I get my bag, the first thing I look for among the chips and crackers is the York. And every year it’s there — it’s become a February tradition.

Last week, as I contemplated which team was going to get through the sub-region round of the playoffs and get me that free York, I was worried.

Looking at the matchups, I didn’t give any of the local teams much of a chance to win.

This was going to be end of an era.

Was I really going to have to go to the convenience store for my fix?

Before the playoffs started, I had both Oakman teams pegged as the ones to make a regional run. However, both were upset in the area tournament, ending their seasons prematurely.

Due to the sheer number of road sub-region games — six of the seven were playing on the road —I had already prepared myself for the worst-case scenario.

Monday got off to a poor start with the season ending for the Curry and Carbon Hill girls.

Curry got the unlucky fortune of playing the No. 1 team in the state — losing to Priceville.

I had given Carbon Hill the best odds of advancing to the regional, but the Bulldogs dropped a truly heart-breaking game to Holly Pond, 44-43, battling back from a nine-point deficit, only to lose in the closing seconds.

Well, I thought that was pretty much it.

Three of the four boys teams were on the road on Tuesday.

Jasper had one of the toughest draws in the state with a home game against No. 2 Fairfield, while Curry, Sumiton Christian and Meek had to travel.

The first two games went as predicted.

Jasper lost to Fairfield (47-39) and Meek dropped its game to Pickens County (85-60).

Then, suddenly there was good news. Curry was winning by eight points in the fourth quarter at Danville.

Could coach Mike Cain’s team actually pull this off?

Going in, I wasn’t sure how the Yellow Jackets would bounce back from a home loss to Haleyville in the area tournament championship game.

I soon got my answer as the Yellow Jackets picked up the 67-60 victory.

Curry, which can be led by any of its five starters on any given night, had four players score in double figures against Danville, with Jakob Hicks coming through with a triple double.

The Yellow Jackets, the only team in the county to host an area tournament, had done it again.

After delving into the old editions of the paper I tracked down the last time Curry made the Northwest Regional Tournament. You have to go all the way back to the Clinton Administration — 1996.

That season Curry defeated Haleyville in triple overtime (72-69) for the area tournament championship and followed with a double-overtime victory over Hanceville in its sub-region game (85-80).

Tim Willoughby’s Yellow Jackets fell to Brooks at Hanceville, losing 55-43.

This time around Curry takes on West Limestone at 1:30 p.m. on Monday.

The good news didn’t end with Curry.

Sumiton Christian took down Cold Springs 55-49 to earn a regional berth under veteran coach Bill Griffin. Forget the regional, winning at Cold Springs is a reason to celebrate by itself.

It was a special night for senior Judson Laird, who not only led the team with 20 points, but also eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for his career.

It was a huge win for Sumiton Christian, because if there is one sport Cullman County schools excel at, it’s basketball.

Sumiton Christian faces No. 4 ranked Tanner at 7:30 p.m. on Friday in its regional opener.

As Tuesday night ended, I could breathe a sigh of relief. I owe a debt of gratitude to the Jackets and Eagles — I can already taste that York.

———

Johnathan Bentley is the Sports Editor of the Daily Mountain Eagle. He can be reached at sports@mountaineagle.com.