By D. Mark Mitchell
The Opelika Wrestling Bulldogs hosted seven teams from around the region in the second annual Bulldawg Brawl Duals Tournament Monday.
The tournament format was to wrestle three rounds of pool play and then the teams were seeded based on their records in pool play.
The Dawgs were in Pool A with the Auburn Tigers, Beauregard Hornets and Hoover “B” Buccaneers. Pool B consisted of the Central Red Devils, Columbus(GA) Blue Devils and Russell County Warriors.
In Pool A, Auburn finished 3-0, Opelika 2-1, Hoover B 1-2 and Beauregard 0-3. In Pool B, Central was 3-0, Columbus 2-1, and Russell County 1-2.
First round of placement matches pitted the Dawgs against the Central Red Devils. The Red Devils proved too much for the injury-decimated Dawgs and they fell 18-57.
The victory propelled the Red Devils into the championship match against the Auburn Tigers who defeated Columbus in their placement round.
The Dawgs dropped into the third place match against the Columbus Blue Devils and defeated Columbus 42-24 to improve to 3-2 on the day and a third place finish in the Bulldawg Brawl.
Final results of the tourney:
Opelika moved to 18-8 overall.
The OHS girls and boys varsity basketball teams continue to play stellar basketball. Both teams clinched their Area regular season title after wins over Russell County last Friday night.
Head Coach Devin Booth wrapped her third straight Area title. The Lady Bulldogs are 15-8 overall and 5-0 in Area play. OHS started slowly as Russell County used home court advantage to jump out to an early nine- point lead in the first quarter.The Lady Dawgs kept their composure and won 54-48. Alexis Sydnor scored 20 points while teammate Jaylen Snipes added 19 to lead Opelika.
Head Coach John Wadsworth’s team needed a road win over Russell County to wrap up the regular season Area championship and they got it.
The Dawgs defeated the Warriors 91-81 to win the Area regular season title with a 5-0 Area record.
Five OHS players scored in double figures. AJ Butler scored a game high 21 points, followed by Pernell Vickerstaff with 18 and Kingston Frazier with 17. Jucorey Love added 11 points while Jaleel Heard scored 10.
OPELIKA vs AUBURN
Opelika varsity girls and boys traveled to AHS Monday afternoon.
Opelika girls entered the game riding a 14 game win streak over Auburn, but that’s where it stopped.
The Lady Tigers played well and did not miss a shot in the first quarter. This allowed them to jump out to a double digit lead early.
Opelika kept battling and pulled within three points in the fourth quarter but
Auburn held on for a 54-50 win.
It was only the second time AHS defeated Opelika since Coach Booth has been the head coach.
On the boys side,Opelika (16-3) defeated rival Auburn 79-64 at Frank Tolbert court on the AHS campus. Joey Payne led the Dawgs with 21 points, hitting five 3-pointers.
Kingston Frazier added 17 points, while AJ Butler and Pernell Vickerstaff scored 12 points each. Vickerstaff also pulled down 12 rebounds.
Coach Wadsworth relies on his quick team to overcome the lack of height.
“We played hard and pushed the ball up and down the court. Their size hurts us in a half court game. Our guards were the difference,” said a happy Wadsworth after watching his team win their 15th out of the last 19 games against Auburn.
Long- time Auburn coach Frank Tolbert complimented Opelika and Wadsworth. “Opelika was the best team. John (Wadsworth) always does a good job of coaching and his kids played great,” said Tolbert after the game. “I don’t make excuses. They beat us! They shot well and were able to hit some inside shots. Give them (OHS) the credit.”
Coach Tolbert won his 700th career game as a head coach two weeks ago. The AHS court bears his name.
“Anytime you can come into Coach Tolbert’s court and win, you have to be happy. Coach Tolbert is a legend around here and is worthy of all the accolades,” said Wadsworth about the Auburn coach.
You can tell the respect each man has for the other, two class men representing the two traditional rivals.
The Opelika girls and boys will host the Area tournaments Feb. 4-7.
The top two teams in each tournament advance to the sub-regional round of the AHSSA 6A state playoffs.
The Dawgs will travel to Alex City tonight for the final Area game.
Opelika three-year starting quarterback Mathew Christian committed to Murray State over the weekend after visiting the school with his parents.
Christian, as a sophomore, led Opelika to its first-ever appearance in Alabama’s Super 6 Championship game.
He is the all-time OHS leader in passing yards with over 4,000 yards and broke the single season mark this year with 1908 yards. Mathew was 28-5 as a starter.
Christian is also an All-State baseball player and will try to play both football and baseball at Murray State.
Opelika spring sports are preparing for the upcoming season. I will preview the teams in the coming weeks.
D.Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Radio, Alabama Dixie Boys State director and vice president of the A-O Sports Council. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.