Opelika basketball teams ring in 2020 with big wins

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By D. Mark Mitchell

Students returned to class Monday after Christmas break. Most of the OHS student-athletes spent several days away, but members of the OHS basketball teams and wrestling team competed. The boys and girls basketball teams played serval games while the wrestlers competed in numerous matches
GIRLS
BASKETBALL
The Lady Bulldog basketball team (15-5) kept busy over the Christmas break, playing in two tournaments and hosting rival Auburn.
Coach Devin Booth scheduled two tournaments during the break, The “Chevron Lady Jag Tournament” and the “BallN Holiday Invitational.” The Lady Bulldogs opened tournament play with a 54-46 win over Mountain Brook. Kaitlyn Bryant and Ananda Hughley led OHS in scoring with 16 and 10 points, respectively.
OHS beat Leflore 43-38 in the second game of the “Lady Jag Invite.” Bryant scored a season-high 24 points in the win.
In the third game, Pleasant Grove beat OHS 68-57. Bryant continued the hot shooting, scoring 17 points while teammate Hughley also added 17 points.
Opelika opened the tournament with a 53-51 win over Hartselle. Bryant scored 18 points to lead OHS, her fourth straight double digit game.
Spain Park defeated the Lady Bulldogs 71-47 in the final. Bryant scored 20 points to extend her streak of double digits to five games. Claire Worth added 10 points.
The girls returned to the friendly confines of OHS Mainstreet Gym last Friday, beating rival Auburn 61-53 in front of a packed house. Opelika led 12-9 after the first quarter and 23-19 at halftime. The Lady Bulldogs led by two points starting the fourth quarter, 41-39.
Coach Booth’s team outscored points to win 61-53. Ananda Hughley led the scoring with 20 points. LaDajah Hughley and Worth scored 15 and 13, points respectively.
OHS travelled to Seale last night for the area opener against Russell County. The results were not available at press time. They travel to Alexander City on Friday night for a 6 p.m. game against Benjamin Russell.
BOYS BASKETBALL
The OHS boys basketball team played four games over the break, going 2-2 including a win over Auburn.
Opelika started the break by beating Lanett 84-82 in overtime. Grady Bynum led all scorers with 25 points, followed by 24 points from Brandon Howard and Anthony McGuire added 10 points.
The Bulldogs travelled to Handley for the “Handley Christmas Invitational.” Harris County (49-37) and Handley (63-48) beat OHS. Bynum scored 11 and 21 points in the two games, while Brandon Howard added 13 and 11 points.
Opelika Coach John Wadsworth decided to play in one tournament during the break. He opted to use the extra week to get his football players in basketball shape, find chemistry and prepare for Auburn.
The plan worked, Opelika beat Auburn 64-60 last Friday in front of the largest crowd to see a basketball game in OHS since the arena was built. (the Mainstreet Gym was much larger when the school was built in the 70’s). The Bulldogs led 14-7 after the first quarter but trailed 21-13 at halftime. The third quarter was the difference in the game. Opelika scored 25 points while holding Auburn to 12 points, taking an 11-point lead to the final quarter. The Tigers comeback was not enough as OHS held on for the four-point victory.
Opelika played at Russell County Tuesday night but the results were not available at press time.
WRESTLING
The Opelika wrestlers kept busy over the break, participating in several matches. Coach Jim Davis took seven wrestlers to Pelham for the invitational. James Dawson continued to dominate, going 6-0 to win the heavyweight division. Ben Daughtry finished second with a 5-1 record. A controversial call “cost Daughtry a win,” according to Davis.
Three wrestlers participated in the “Indian Invitational” at Wetumpka High School. Two OHS wrestlers won championships. James Dawson (6-0) and Ben Daughtry (5-0) finished undefeated to win the heavyweight division and the 195-pound class.
Dawson earned two honors “Most Outstanding Wrestler” and “Best Match Award.”
Four freshman wrestlers participated in the Indian junior varsity meet. Logan Sheridan won four matches and Landon Willis won three matches, finishing fourth and fifth respectively.
The final match of the break for Opelika, the “Julian McPhillips Invitational” at St. James Academy in Montgomery. Again, Dawson and Daughtry dominated. Each finished undefeated, winning their weight classes. Dawson won his second “Most Outstanding Wrestler” title in two meets. Congratulations James!
Opelika travels to Millbrook Thursday for their next meet.
OMS SPORTS
Hopefully in the coming weeks, I will have coverage of OMS basketball. If you have scores or information pertaining to Opelika Middle School sports or sports in Opelika, email me (D.Mark Mitchell) at foxonthemark@yahoo.com.
D. Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media, Alabama Dixie Boys State Director and vice president of the A-O Sports Council.

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