By D. Mark Mitchell
The Opelika girls and boys basketball teams have two of the toughest high school schedules in Alabama.
The girls, led by head coach Devin Booth, are 1-5 in the early season. They opened the season in the Hazel Green Invitational Tournament in Huntsville, losing to J.O. Johnson 64-58, Lee-Huntsville 68-60 and Hazel Green 70-60.
Coach Booth understands her team may lose some early games due to their inexperience and also to playing top teams across the state. “I was pleased with our effort. The girls played hard and are trying to follow our game plan. We are young, no excuse, but it is a fact. This team can win the area if we keep improving,” said Booth after the tournament.
Opelika hosted defending 7A state champion, Jeff Davis, in their home opener, losing to the Lady Vols, 84-75, in a game that was closer than the score indicates. The two teams were tied with three minutes left in the game.
The girls earned their first win over Newnan last Tuesday at the OHS Sports Arena, 61-39. The entire team played a complete game on both offense and defense.
Smiths Station escaped with a 64-61 win over Opelika girls. OHS started slowly, scoring 26 first half points. Coach Booth asked her team, during halftime, to stay calm, not to panic and to keep playing hard.
The plan almost paid off. Opelika missed three of four free throws in the last minute that would have given them the lead.
The Opelika boys lost in double overtime to Jeff Davis and to Newnan last week at home. The Dawgs then blew out Smiths Station Tuesday night at the Sports Arena, 85-64, for their first win of the season.
This was the first game for Coach John Wadsworth with all his players. The team picked up Charlie Benton, Kyle Fourtenbary, Jaleel Heard and James Moss after the football season ended. OHS Coach Wadsworth practiced two days with his whole team before playing SSHS.
The Bulldogs used a smothering full court press to create turnovers.
Sophomore Jordan Heard scored a season high 21 points, Devin Bell hit five three-pointers for 15 points, Jalon Kellun scored 14, and Kingston Frazier added 11. All eleven players scored.
The first win of the season seemed to relieve Wadsworth, “Wow, we got after it tonight. I am proud of the kids and their effort. We hit our shots and played great defense. Total team win!” said a smiling Wadsworth after the game.
Opelika will play AHS at the Auburn High Field House tonight.
The junior varsity tips at 4:30, varsity girls at 5:45 and Varsity Boys at 7 pm.
The Opelika Middle School eighth grade basketball team is 7-1.
The OMS seventh grade team is 3-0.
AHSAA STATE SWIM MEET
Opelika High School will have two participants competing in the AHSAA state championship swim meet this weekend at the Auburn University. McKinsley Laro will compete in the swim meet and Connor Preuitt will try to win his second straight diving championship.
OHS began the wrestling season last night at the Sports Arena.
The results were not complete at press time. You can read about wrestling in next week’s column.
D.Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media, Alabama Dixie Boys State director and vice president of the A-O Sports Council.