High stakes in Wildcats, Eagles rematch

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Shelby County Wildcats and Calera Eagles meet this Friday night in the teams&8217; second match of the year, and it&8217;s easy to see that there&8217;s no love lost between the two squads.

While many of the players are good friends off the court, these two teams are heated rivals once they hit the hardwood. The Eagles are projected to go a long way toward repeating as 2A state champions while the Wildcats are a top prospect for going far in the 5A title race. Both teams&8217; seasons, however, have not unfolded anywhere close to the way they planned.

The Shelby County Wildcats&8217; season has been anything but easy.

The squad went through the death of teammate Cortez Cotton and is far from recovering fully from the tragedy &8212; both on and off the court.

Head coach Charles Dickinson has worked double duty for his team this year, trying to help them through an extremely difficult time while striving to keep them motivated on the basketball court each week.

Nobody would be surprised if the Wildcats lost every game this season, and few people would blame them if they found it hard to compete each and every night. But apparently the Shelby County boys aren&8217;t looking for sympathy. They&8217;re too busy trying to make the most of a basketball season that wasn&8217;t supposed to be this hard.

The Wildcats have won their last five games after starting the season 6-5, and Dickinson says he hopes the winning streak is a sign of a return to normalcy for his team.

The Eagles are battling issues of their own. While the Calera squad will be the first to tell you that their problems fall well short of the Wildcats&8217;, they know that when it comes to their performance on the basketball court, they have a lot of work to do.

At 11-6, Calera has lost more games this season than they did all of last year (31-5 in 2005).

Many of the games have been against bigger schools in tournaments such as the Shelby County Invitational, so as the Eagles get into the meat of their region schedule, they&8217;re looking to prove that playing with bigger squads has given them the experience they need to make it back to Birmingham.

If you&8217;re interested in one of the county&8217;s most storied rivalries, you might want to take a trip to Calera High School this Friday night. There&8217;s little doubt it will live up to all the hype