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Hoops history & mystery
Falkville’s girls to play in first regional tournament
By Deangelo McDaniel
The Decatur Daily

Jeronimo Nisa/The Decatur Daily photos
Shaynah Story, left, Haley Vinson and Brittany Tanner paint signs at Falkville High School on Monday in preparation for the Lady Devils’ regional basketball tournament game Wednesday against R.A. Hubbard.

Members of Falkville High School’s girls basketball team knew they had become a part of history after their subregional victory over Marion County last week.

But they didn’t know until Monday that a mystery would follow.

For almost 20 minutes, seniors Elizabeth Davis, Amanda Muse and Sydney Moore searched the school’s trophy case for the 1987 area championship trophy.

“This is weird, and we have to find it, but we’ve got other things to worry about right now,” Muse said.

The Lady Blue Devils are one of 14 teams in The Daily’s coverage area who will play in the Northwest Regional Tournament at Wallace State in Hanceville this week. Play gets under way today with Lawrence County’s girls taking on Wenonah at 9 a.m. at Tom Drake Coliseum.

A 15th local team, the defending 5A state champion Brewer girls, play today at 9 a.m. in the Northeast Regional at Jacksonville State.

The Falkville girls begin play at 3 p.m. Wednesday against R.A. Hubbard. This will be the Lady Blue Devils’ first appearance in Hanceville since the regional format started in 1994. Until this season, that 1987 trophy that no one could find was the last time a Falkville girls team had won an area championship.

No one on this year’s team was born in 1987, and while the players appreciate the past, they are looking to the future.

“This is a new day and we need four more wins for a state championship,” Davis said as students walked by wishing her good luck and saying congratulations.

Since Friday, basketball has been a hot topic in this tiny hamlet with a population of fewer than 1,300.

“Just about everybody that is calling up here is asking about the team and the regional tournament,” school secretary Julie Kelsoe said. “We’ve never had anything like this to happen. We’re all so excited.”

Falkville is the last school in Morgan County to send a team to the regional tournament.

“That is what makes all this so special,” coach Jeff Andrews said. “It’s all so new, and the girls deserve everything that is coming to them.”

Until a Dec. 4 victory over Decatur Heritage, Falkville’s goal was just to make it to the area finals.

“We never dreamed of going to the regionals because we never could beat Decatur Heritage,” Andrews said.

Falkville won both regular season games against the Lady Eagles and clinched the area title with a third victory over Decatur Heritage.

Muse and Moore said the team started thinking about regionals after the two regular-season wins.

“People kept telling us it had been a long time, but we took a stand for a new beginning,” Muse said.

Moore said she looked to Terry Henson, a former Falkville player who was an All-American in the mid-1970s, for advice.

“He’s like an uncle to me,” she said. “He kept telling me to keep my head up and stop listening to what people were saying about the past.”

At Austin and Lawrence County High, players and fans don’t mind looking to the past.

Both are regulars in Hanceville, so when Austin’s girls defeated rival Bob Jones by one point in overtime, senior Jeff Brink started assembling the team to make the “roll-down sign.”

This is a sign the students stretch from the top of the coliseum to the bottom of the student cheering section.

Brink said the seniors worked three hours Sunday taping paper together at Decatur Baptist Church on Danville Road. Students worked on the sign Monday and are expected to work on it again today.

“All I can tell you is that the sign is about the size of a basketball court,” Brink said.

The girls from Lawrence County will make their 13th appearance in the tournament.

“We’ve been making them goody bags,” cheerleader Destinee Jones said Monday. “It’s our way of letting them know we support them.”

Deangelo McDaniel can be reached at 256-340-2469 or deangelo@decaturdaily.com.

Who’s playing today

  • Girls: Lawrence County vs. Wenonah, 9 a.m.

  • Boys: Athens vs. Parker, 10:30 a.m.

  • Girls: Athens vs. Fairfield, noon

  • Boys: East Limestone vs. Wenonah, 1:30 p.m.

  • Boys: Hatton vs. Cold Springs, 4:30 p.m.

  • Girls: Tanner vs. Sulligent, 6 p.m.

  • Boys: Tanner vs. Vincent, 7:30 p.m.

Northeast Regional at Jacksonville State

  • Girls: Brewer vs. Center Point, 9 a.m.

What you need to know

Admission: $8

Parking: $3

Location: All Northwest Regional games are played at Tom Drake Coliseum in Hanceville. The Alabama High School Athletic Association prohibits artificial noise makers, and students must be fully dressed.

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