Teams that can shake things up

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 8, 2005

This is the most exciting time of year for high school basketball.

Area tournaments are already under way in AHSAA competition, and the AISA tips off its regional tournament tomorrow.

There’s a pretty impressive list of Shelby County teams that could easily make a run at high school hoops’ most coveted prize, a state championship.

There are some familiar faces – Calera’s boys team has become a fixture at the AHSAA Final Four, while the Lady Eagles are creating a name for themselves as well behind standout Shanavia Dowdell.

The Eagles will try to avenge losses in each of the last three state title games by returning to the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex this spring and bringing home with some blue hardware, a 2A championship trophy.

Calera is easily the county’s most dangerous dual threat, as the Lady Eagles, at 19-1, are poised for a solid postseason and could join the boys team in the Final Four for the second straight year.

Shelby County coach Charles Dickinson is no stranger to winning basketball and this year’s Wildcats squad could turn out to be one the better teams he’s led onto the court in Columbiana.

At 23-3, Shelby County entered this week’s area tournament ranked No. 5 in the Alabama Sports Writers Association Class 5A poll.

There’s also Oak Mountain, where coach Jerry North hasn’t missed a practice despite undergoing cancer treatments and the Eagles are playing with an intensity that could shake things up in the Class 6A, Area 6 tournament, where Mountain Brook is the No. 1 seed.

Cornerstone Christian is the new kid on the postseason block in boys basketball.

The Chargers won the AISA West Area 3 championship in their first season to finish above .500.

Coach Tim Smith’s bunch takes a 17-3 record and a high-scoring, fast-paced offensive into this week’s state basketball tournament in Montgomery.

Two girls teams from Shelby County clinched area crowns by winning tournaments last weekend.

Kingwood Christian and Shelby Academy will each carry No. 1 seeds into regional play at the AISA tourney, held at Faulkner University and Huntingdon College in Montgomery.

The Lions, who stormed through the 2003-04 season undefeated before losing the state championship game in overtime, returned all but two players from last year’s team.

Led by sensational sophomore Hannah Phillips, Kingwood hopes to return to the championship game this year for another shot at the title.

Shelby County High School fans may be cautious about attending Friday night’s area tournament game against Stanhope-Elmore after a brawl erupted between fans of the school and Prattville fans last week.

Police were forced to clear the gym and cancel the game as a result of the melee.

Hopefully, the thugs involved won’t make the trip to Columbiana and the game will showcase the sportsmanship and civility expected.

Ashley Vansant is the sports editor at the Shelby County Reporter. He can be reached at