On the Mark
By D. Mark Mitchell
Both the Opelika Girls’ and Boys’ Varsity basketball teams were eliminated from the Area 4-6A tournament last week with both teams falling to Eufaula in the championship game.
The Girls (11-10) beat Russell County 55-45 in the first-round elimination game of the Area tournament to advance to the final. LaDajah Hugley led with 16 points;
Erica Mathews scored 14 points; Kaitlyn Bryant added 12.
The win allowed the Lady Bulldogs to play at Eufaula for the area tournament championship on Feb. 13.
The Tigers bested OHS 81-52 to win the area.
The loss means the Lady Bulldogs played at Carver Monday night in the subregional round of the AHSAA 6A Playoffs. The OHS Girls season ended with a narrow 60-67 loss. The Lady Bulldogs were led by a season-high 33 points from Haley Sanders. Kaitlyn Byrant added 16 points. The Girls finish with a 11-11 record after making it three consecutive trips to the 6A State Finals.
The Opelika Boys’ Basketball team upset Valley in Fairfax 82-60 last week in the first-round elimination game of the area tournament. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs then lost the area championship game 81-49 to Eufaula on the road. OHS played the game without two starters due to COVID contact tracing.
Despite the loss, the season continues for the boys and Interim Head Coach Wesley Button. Opelika traveled to Montgomery Wednesday night, playing Carver in the subregional round of the AHSAA 6A basketball playoffs. The results were not available at press time.
INTERIM BASKETBALL COACH
In early January, Opelika high announced that newly hired boys’ basketball head coach Emmanuel Brown had resigned. Brown, hired in May of 2020, never moved his family to Opelika from the Dothan area.
He missed numerous days prior to Christmas break due to COVID-related issues involving his family.
OHS Principal Dr. Farrell Seymore turned to assistant coach Wesley Button to handle the team for the remainder of the season.
Button was named interim head coach after spending five years as top assistant to former coach John Wadsworth.
I asked Seymore if he has made a decision regarding the head coaching job for boys’ basketball.
“At this time, no decision has been made regarding the head boys basketball coach position,” Seymore said by email. The longtime OHS principal added, “All decisions regarding this position will be made at the conclusion of the season.”
The OHS Softball team (0-1) opened the season with a 0-10 loss to Central in Phenix City last week.
“I am proud of the girls for competing and playing hard,” Lady Bulldog coach Randy Belyeu said. “The wet conditions made things sloppy, but glad we played.”
McKay Yountz pitched seven innings, throwing 90 pitches and allowing 10 hits, three earned runs, two walks and striking out five batters. Opelika committed four errors, resulting in seven unearned runs.
Opelika’s girls’ and boys’ tennis teams swept Wetumpka last week. The girls won 9-0, while the boys won 6-3.
The Lady Bulldog netters won all nine matches.
Singles winners: (No. 1 seed) Laney McTier won 8-2, (2) Laura Tyson Daffin 8-0, (3) Allison Beardon 9-2, (4) Luci Long 8-0, (5) Leighanna Howell 8-0, (6) Ally Kinser 8-5.
Doubles winners: McTier/Daffin 8-1, Beardon/Long 8-2 and Howell/Emma Hankins 8-1
The OHS Boys won 6-3.
Singles winners: (3) Max Caldwell won 8-1, (4) Will Fuller 8-0, (5) Jake Walters 8-0, (6) Jake O’Quinn 8-0
Doubles: Fuller/Conner Mullins 8-6 and Charles Gagliano/Roman Gagliano 9-1
The last several weeks, I wrote we would hear major news concerning football coaches in our area. Well, AHS football coach Adam Winegarden accepted an offer to be the head coach at Tuscaloosa County High School last week. Winegarden was offered a non-coaching position at Maryland for Head Coach Mike Loxley and the head coaching position at TCHS.
Winegarden appeared on my sports radio show “On the Mark” last week after accepting the job.
“I chose Tuscaloosa County for many reasons,” Winegarden said. “My wife Ashley and I have family in Tuscaloosa. TCHS is one block from Ashley’s parents’ house. . . I have always considered coaching there after driving by the school for years. I am a builder! AHS football is better off now than when I arrived. That’s important to me. . . I hope to build Tuscaloosa County into a contender.”
Now, Auburn City Schools turn their attention to hiring a new football coach. Look for ACS to hire a proven winner.
In the coming days, we should hear about another major coaching change in our area. Stay tuned!
D. Mark Mitchell is the Sports Director at iHeartMedia, host of “On The Mark” on Fox Sports the Game 910-1310, Co-Chair of the Auburn-Opelika Sports Council, Chairman of the Super 7 and Dixie Boys Baseball State Director.