Latest basketball poll features 4 local top 10 teams

Published 8:42 am Thursday, January 17, 2019

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

With two girls basketball teams ranked inside the top six of their respective classification and two boys team in the top 10 of the 7A classification, the latest ASWA basketball rankings were one of the best for the county so far this season.

Coming in at No. 5 in the Class 7A girls poll, the Spain Park Jaguars were the highest ranked team in the county after a strong week featuring wins against Vestavia Hills and Mountain Brook.

In that win over Vestavia, the Jags not only took down the 11th best team in the classification with a record of 16-7, but also became the county’s first team to 20 wins this season.

It was a tightly-contested game that tested Spain Park throughout, but the Jaguars edged out a one-point victory to improve to 20-4 overall and remain undefeated in area play.

The next highest ranked team from Shelby County was none other than Shelby County High School’s girls basketball team at No. 6 in Class 5A, and they are possibly the most under the radar team in the state.

A squad that made it to the Elite Eight a season ago, the Wildcats are currently 18-1 overall this season and are also undefeated in area play.

That lone loss this season came to McGill-Toolen, the No. 2 ranked team in the 7A classification, at the buzzer by just two points. And Shelby County isn’t just beating teams, the Wildcats are dominating a rather difficult schedule with several teams on the schedule in higher classifications.

In their 18 wins, the Wildcats are winning by an average margin of victory of 25.2 points per game with seven 30-plus point wins, five 40-plus point wins and one 60-point win.

Shelby County has won its last six games in a row since that loss to McGill-Toolen and is clearly carrying over some frustration from their heartbreaking end to the 2017-18 season, as they compete on a redemption path.

Westminster at Oak Mountain was also nominated for a spot inside the top 10 after a recent stretch of success.

The Knights are a team that has been to regionals in Montgomery the last two seasons, and still have many of those same players. They are now winners of their last five games in a row and seven of their last nine games to improve to 11-7 (5-0) after a very difficult schedule through the first two months of the season.

Moving over to the boys’ standings, both teams ranked were from the 7A classification as the Oak Mountain Eagles jumped into the standings after taking down Thompson to leap the Warriors, who also still remained ranked.

When clicking on all cylinders, the Eagles have shown signs of being one of the state’s best teams, and as this young team grows, they’ll only improve with the more situations they face throughout the season.

With an overall record of 15-7 and an area record of 2-1, Oak Mountain earned the No. 8 spot in the standings.

In their last three games, the Eagles were able to lead No. 3 Hoover for three quarters before falling in the final period, beat Tuscaloosa County 62-48 and took down Thompson 53-44 in a game OMHS led by 20 points at one point.

It’s a team that can play every player on the team, giving them good depth, which is key in competing with the teams in Class 7A.

Just two spots behind Oak Mountain was Thompson at No. 10.

The Warriors, similarly to the Eagles, are coming off a game against Hoover that they led throughout, but were unable to close in a 62-53 loss.

Thompson, however, bounced back with an out-of-state victory against Paideia (Ga.) by a final score of 49-37, before the tough loss to Oak Mountain.

The Warriors are one of the more athletic teams in the state, but like Oak Mountain, they’re a young squad still learning. Their athleticism keeps them in every game, and if they are hitting any shots, they’ll have a chance to win every game.

The Chelsea Hornets and Helena Huskies are also worth mentioning despite not finding a spot in the standings this week.

Chelsea has started area play 3-0 despite missing some key pieces due to injury. With great coaching, a scrappy team and Daniel Washington in the post, this 11-10 team looks poised to make some noise.

Helena had won eight games in a row and started area play 2-0 before running into Chelsea, who was able to pick up a 55-44 victory against the Huskies. But still, this Helena team has won nine of its last 11 games and has shown a lot of impressive traits.