Are championship times among us?

Last year seemed to be oh so close when it came to winning a championship — a complete opposite of what I enjoyed in my first year of covering Shelby County sports. But will this year be different?

When the new Alabama Sports Writers Association Top 10 basketball polls come out in the morning, a handful of county teams will be ranked — more than either of the previous two seasons. Does this mean that 2009 will be another year of championships for the county? Only time will tell, but so far, things look good.

But before basketball finals can arrive, wrestling will get the first shot at a state championship at the state tournament in Huntsville in two weeks.

Oak Mountain hopes to place at least eight wrestlers in the final round, with three defending runner-ups in Tanner Moon, Davis Bagwell and John Blakely looking to take top prize. Also standing a good chance is undefeated 125-pound wrestler Geoffrey Bostany of Spain Park and a couple of 5A wrestlers from Shelby County, Ethan Lann and Jon Walden.

In basketball, the boys’ AISA 1A title will come through Shelby County, it’s only a question of when. Shelby Academy and Cornerstone Christian both are poised to make the AISA Final Four, but their success will depend on the lay of the bracket.

In AHSAA Class 4A, Calera is still on pace, despite an overtime loss to Bibb County on Friday. If Calera is focused, it has too many offensive and defensive weapons for most teams in the class, if not all.

While neither Briarwood or Shelby County is ranked in the Top 5 in Class 5A, both will look to advance to the regional tournament and compete for the right to make it to the Final Four in Birmingham. Similarly, in Class 6A, Thompson is on a hot streak and has a chance to return to the Elite Eight.

In girls’ hoops, Montevallo is having the best season of any in Class 3A and hopes this is the year that it will get over the regional hump and make it to Birmingham.