Dawgs lose to Red Devils in final moments

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by D. Mark Mitchell
Sports Editor

Varsity Boys Basketball

The boys varsity squad lost to Central in the first round of the Area tournament by nine points to end their season with a 9-9 overall record.

The Dawgs trailed by 10 in the third quarter but managed to close the gap to one point with two minutes left in the game. The Red Devils used their experience to hang on and win the game.

Opelika will have all but two players returning next year.The two seniors will be missed but a great group of talented juniors and sophomores return as well as some freshmen that may contribute next year.

I want to thank interim coach Brian Moore for taking over a week before the first game because of the resignation of John Wadsworth. Wadsworth had to step down due to a close family member’s illness. Moore had been an assistant to Wadsworth for two years prior to the interim appointment.

Search for new boys’ coach begins

Now that the season’s over, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mark D. Neighbors, OHS Principal Dr. Ferrell Seymore and Athletic Director Brian Blackmon will begin the search for a new boys basketball coach.

No timetable has been set to hire the new coach. The Alabama high school playoffs start this week, and there may be some coaches in the playoffs who want to apply for the job. All three members of the search committee are committed to get the best possible person to be the head coach. I will keep you up to date as the search progresses.

Varsity Girls’ Basketball

The OHS varsity girls basketball team advanced to the first round of the AHSAA state playoff by defeating Auburn in the first round of the Area tournament.

The Dawgs used tough defense and a good second half to down their arch rival, AHS, by a 52-32 score. The Lady Bulldogs have beaten Auburn nine of the last 10 games and three games in a row.

Bethany Howard scored a career high 19 points while Emma Garner added nine points for OHS. The win earned OHS a berth in the finals of the Area tournament against the number one seeded Central High School.

The Lady Bulldogs (24-5) lost to Central (30-1) 57-48 in the championship game. Coach Devin Booth’s team played hard but could not overcome 18 missed free throws and 16 missed shots in the lane.

Central hit several three-point shots after Opelika closed the gap. The Red Devils’ inside game was the big difference, as they hit all 12 shots in the lane and made 17 of 20 free throws.

Opelika travelled to Enterprise last night in the first round of the state playoffs. The game was not over at press time. The winner will advance to the Regionals at Alabama State University next week.

Wrestling

The OHS wrestling team finished fourth in the Sectional tournament last week in Auburn. OHS scored 112 points and qualified six wrestlers for the State tournament which begins today in Huntsville.

Brian White (113 pounds) and Rico Lewis (197 pounds) won the sectional titles in their weight classes. The other wrestlers to advance are Lacarris Patrick (128 pounds), Carter Neighbors (122 pounds) and Marquis Wright (184 pounds).

The state wrestling tournament is being held at the Von Braun Civic Center in Huntsville.

Baseball

The season’s roster of OHS baseball team, under the leadership of first year head coach Scott Sullivan, has just been released.

The team will open up the 2012 season on Feb. 20 at the OHS field. The day will start at 11 a.m. with Auburn playing Thompson followed by Opelika vs. Thompson followed by Auburn vs. Hoover followed by Opelika vs. Hoover.

The four games will be in Opelika due to the tornado that hit the AHS baseball field a few weeks ago. Auburn will be forced to play a lot of games on the road early in the season while waiting on the repairs at Sam Welborn Field on the AHS campus.

Members of the OHS baseball team are:

Doss Arnold, Duncan Asbury, Garrett Brown, Lawson Butz, Austin Campbell, Clay Caswell, Acton Cole, Mathew Christian, Warren Demunn, Kyle Gothard, Taylor Grigsby, Tyre Hall, Jared Harper, Chase Hegwood, Tyler Jones, David Miller, Trevor Pigg, Spencer Pritchett, Cody Puckett, Stephen Roberts, Quinn Snipes, Sawyer Stephens, Justin Traylor, Bennett Whitman, Gage Young, Nick Fields, LaQuinn Glenn, Harrison Morris, Sawyer Stephens, Cody Sides, Hunter Swindall and B.J,White.

A few more players could be added after the basketball players try out.

OMS Baseball

Coach Brad Estes’ team will open up the 2012 season on Feb. 20, at Bill Harrelson Field at West Ridge Park. The OMS boys will take on Enterprise.

Softball

The OHS softball team will open up on Feb. 22 at West Ridge Park vs. Beulah at 4 p.m.

Soccer

The OHS soccer program will field its first ever all-girls soccer team this year. The girls and boys varsity soccer teams will open their home schedule on Feb. 20 vs Benjamin Russell at 4 p.m. at the James Samford Soccer Complex at the Opelika Sportsplex.

Tennis

The Boys and Girls tennis teams opened up the season last week vs. Columbus High School. The varsity girls won 9-0 while the boys lost 9-0.

Over the next few weeks I will write about each of our spring sports.

Former OHS Player News

Congratulations to OHS graduate Orlando Ezell for signing a scholarship with Ole Miss in track. Ezell signed with Kansas Community College after he graduated and made All-American there which earned him a Division I scholarship.

OHS graduates Brooks Robinson, Brandon Rogers and Caleb Lawrence, now members of the Jacksonville State University football team, received commemorative rings for winning the OVC football championship. The three players received the rings at the team banquet recently.

Coach Jack Crowe played a trick on the team. Only 20 rings were on the table in the front of the room. The 20 rings represented the number of seniors on the team. After giving the seniors their rings, Coach Crowe told the rest of the team members their rings were behind the curtain.

The players were all relieved to learn they had rings also.

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