Hoops excitement around the corner

With the BCS National Championship game tomorrow night in Miami and the Super Bowl another three weeks away in Tampa, football season is winding down just as basketball is hitting its stride.

The basketball excitement hit one week after our final county football teams were eliminated from the state playoffs. Calera opened its season at home with a lopsided win over Pelham and gave a hint that it might be a team to watch. Seventeen games later, they are.

The Eagles are on track for success in Class 4A, and have the potential to go down as one of the best teams in Calera basketball history, and that’s saying a lot.

But this team’s not the only one taking flight.

Down Alabama 25 is the home of the Montevallo Bulldogs, who are also battling for the claim of the best to ever put on girls’ basketball jerseys at their school. This talented group of ladies is the best chance for a Final Four appearance in girls’ basketball from our county this season.

In boys’ basketball, the list keeps going. If one is taking the county tour in basketball, you can stay in Montevallo and drop by Shelby Academy, who is having success early, but once head out toward Columbiana, you’ll find a hidden gem at Cornerstone.

JV McKinney continues to lead Cornerstone to victory and will meet a tough regular season challenge when he goes up against J.B. Ripley and Coosa Valley on Thursday for the second time this season.

In Class 5A, Briarwood is the surprise team in the county and possibly the state. A third place finish in an Orlando tournament last week starts the new year strong for the Lions, who open area play this week.

In Class 6A, Area 10 may be decided this Friday night, but don’t count on it. Thompson, Oak Mountain and Hoover each have one area loss. Thompson will host Oak Mountain on Friday and look to hand the Eagles their second-straight area loss. Thompson, though struggling early, has the talent to advance in the regional.