Calera is basketball in these parts

Published 2:01 pm Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My earliest knowledge of basketball in Shelby County was sitting on my dad’s couch in the mid ’90s as the Calera Eagles celebrated a boys’ basketball state championship on TV.

The victory was either Calera’s first or second, I can’t recall, as the Eagles won back-to-back titles in ’96 and ’97. At that time, I only knew of Calera because that’s where one of my dad’s co-workers lived. It seemed far away from the Huffman apartment complex.

Five years later, I moved less than 10 miles from the gym that put together a run of Eagles teams that went to four straight championship games, winning it all in 2005. But still I never saw a game in person.

After coming to the Reporter two years ago, I realized that Robert Burdette has a chance to coach the Eagles to a fourth title, his fifth, sometime in the near future. As mentioned two seasons ago, this brings memories of my great-grandfather, Dick Webb, who was the first coach to win back-to-back state titles in the early 1920s at Simpson School.

Despite having a young team, Calera’s future may be now.

All year this group of sophomores and freshman battled like upperclassmen and showed why Calera is among the best in 4A.

But as sophomore Brandon Wells put it Friday, at this point “age don’t matter.”

“At this late in the season, nobody’s young, everybody’s got experience,” Wells said. “We don’t look at it as we’re freshmen and sophomores with only one senior starter, we look at it as we’re five players on the court trying to win.”

This week, Calera is winning in a fan poll, with 45 percent of the voters believing the Eagles have the best shot to win a state championship of the county’s three teams remaining.

Calera is looking for its seventh state championship game in 14 years. Whether they bring home a blue trophy next week from Birmingham or not, one thing is clear — Calera is back on track.

My PawPaw paved the way, now Burdette can rewrite the record books.

Outside the Lines is a weekly column.