The path to a third straight trip to Birmingham starts this week as area tournaments begin across the state.
Carbon Hill used home-court advantage to jump-start long playoff runs each of the last two seasons.
The Bulldogs won’t have that luxury this season.
Carbon Hill, which finished as the Class 3A state runner-up last season, plays in the Class 4A, Area 8 Tournament at Dora High School beginning Friday.
Dora won the right to host the area tournament on a coin toss. Losing the coin toss also left Carbon Hill with a much tougher opponent in the opening round of the area tournament — Corner. The teams play at 5:30 p.m. Friday with the winner moving to the area tournament final and the loser going home.
Dora takes on Oak Grove at 7 p.m. Friday in the other semifinal.
The top two teams from each area tournament advance to the sub-regional round of the state playoffs. Sub-regional winners move on to regional tournament play.
The winner of each regional tournament heads to the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Complex for the Final Four.
Eighth-ranked Carbon Hill has won its two regular-season games against Corner, picking up a 44-38 home win and a 50-39 road win.
Dora and Carbon Hill have split their regular-season games with each winning at home.
Carbon Hill also rallied to knock off Dora in the semifinals of the Walker County Basketball Tournament.
The area tournament final is set for 7 p.m. Monday.
Class 1A, Area 13 at Parrish
Parrish, the No. 3 team in Class 1A, is the only other area boys team hosting an area tournament.
The tournament begins today with an opening-round game matching Lynn and Brilliant. The winner takes on Parrish at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.
Sumiton Christian faces No. 8 Marion County in the first semifinal matchup at 5 p.m. on Thursday.
Parrish (24-1) is undefeated against Class 1A competition this season, going 12-0, including a pair of wins over Marion County. The Red Raiders knocked Parrish out of the playoffs last season in the sub-regional round.
The Tornadoes have won their last eight games, including a come-from-behind win over Marion County in the final area matchup of the season.
Class 5A, Area 14 at Mortimer Jordan
The first two meetings between Curry and Walker have come down to the closing seconds with the Yellow Jackets winning both times.
Curry (11-13) looks to make it three in a row when the teams meet in an area semifinal matchup at 6 p.m. Friday at Mortimer Jordan High School.
The Jackets won a 52-49 decision at Walker and rallied from a late seven-point deficit to knock off the Vikings 57-55 in overtime at Curry thanks to a Spencer Fikes 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Curry, which hadn’t beat Walker in a decade before this season, has won three of its last four games.
The Vikings (5-15) won their final home game of the season, beating Cold Springs 70-69 before losing the regular-season finale 42-39 to Winfield.
In the other area tournament semifinal game, Mortimer Jordan plays Hayden at 7:30 p.m. The final is set for 7 p.m. on Monday.
Class 1A, Area 14 at Decatur Heritage
The 1A, Area 14 Tournament begins today with Addison taking on St. Bernard at 6:30 p.m. in the first round.
The winner takes on Decatur Heritage at 8 p.m. Friday.
In the other semifinal, Meek plays Falkville at 6:30 p.m. Friday. The tournament final is set for 7 p.m. Monday.
Class 2A, Area 14 at Cold Springs
Oakman will play for one of the top two spots in the 2A, Area 14 Tournament on Friday when the Wildcats take on Sulligent at 5:30 p.m. from Cold Springs High School.
Oakman has split a pair of games against Cold Springs this season with each team winning at home.
In the other semifinal, Cold Springs plays Lamar County at 7 p.m. The two winners play in the final at 7 p.m. Monday.
Class 3A, Area 14 at Hamilton
Both Winston County and Cordova face uphill battles in the semifinal round of the 3A, Area 14 Tournament.
Winston County takes on Winfield in the opener at 6 p.m. Friday while Hamilton plays Cordova at 7:30 p.m.
The winners play at 7 p.m. Monday in the final.