By D. Mark Mitchell
The varsity girls basketball team won the 2012-13 regular season Area championship with 6-0 record and improved to 18-3 overall after beating Auburn, Carver and Central in a span of four days. Head coach Devin Booth won her first Area championship after finishing second two years in a row since taking over the head coaching job just four years ago. Last year’s team (26-4) advanced to the final eight in the state and was three points away from playing in the Final Four. So it’s obvious that coach Booth has her teams playing at a high level on a consistent basis.
OHS vs Auburn
The Lady Bulldogs scored 14 straight points while holding AHS scoreless in the first quarter. That’s right … OHS held rival Auburn to zero points in the first quarter.
The quick start put a damper on any hopes of the Lady Tigers that they could pull off the upset. Opelika won 54-33. Booth demands her girls play defense all over the court. “This will cause turnovers and keep us in every game even if we have a bad shooting night,” said Booth.
This was the 11th win over Auburn in the 12 games since Booth has been the head coach. The Lady Bulldogs led by as many as 28 points in the fourth quarter while playing non-starters.
Tish Chatman led the team with 15 points while teammate Kendall Adams scored 11.
Coach Booth was pleased with the win and the steady play of her team.
“I was proud of our defensive intensity at the start of the game. When we play good defense it will allow us to score off turnovers,” said Booth after the game during the post game radio interview with me. “The crowd was great and I am proud of the students and fans for supporting the girls.”
OHS vs Carver
Less than 24 hours after beating arch-rival Auburn, the Lady Bulldogs hosted the number four-ranked Carver Wolverines. OHS beat CHS 59-50 in front of another packed house.
Junior Emma Garner hit three three-point shots in a row to give us an early nine point lead which Opelika never relinquished. The win was impressive for many reasons, one of which is the fact we had just beat our oldest and biggest rival, Auburn High, the night before, and the team didn’t experience the usual let-down after a win of this kind.
OHS vs Central
Opelika wrapped up the Area championship with an impressive 57-47 win over Central at the OHS Sports Arena.
“It feels good to go undefeated in the Area, especially in this Area because of all the good teams. I am pleased with our effort and I am proud of the girls,” said Coach Booth after the game.
Destiny Savage scored 18 points to lead OHS.
Opelika (18-3) will host the Area tournament which starts Feb. 4. Two Area teams will advance to the State Playoffs. Opelika will play the fourth seed in the first round of the Area tournament. The winner of the tournament will host a first round playoff game while the second place Area team will travel.
This Opelika team is special. They play hard every night and have a good chance to go a long way in the state tournament.
I have enjoyed watching this team come together and play great basketball. The sky is the limit.
OHS will host Lanett tonight at 5:30 p.m. and Lanier on Saturday night to wind up the regular season.
Coach John Wadsworth’s boys basketball team has won four straight games, Valley, Auburn, top-ranked Carver and Central. The wins improved their record to 15-7 overall and 4-2 in the Area.
The Bulldogs tied for first in the Area with Smiths Station and Central. The Red Devils have one more Area game, Friday, at Auburn.`
The Bulldogs defeated Auburn, 50-46, behind TJ Pressley’s 14 points and 11 rebounds and two block shots while teammate Trey Purter added 10 points and five rebounds.
The win over Auburn was the 10th in a row and 11th in 12 games for head Coach John Wadsworth in the local rivalry.
The following night OHS defeated defending 6A State champions and previously undefeated Carver of Montgomery, 57-53. The Dawgs stopped the Wolverines’ 38-game win streak. Opelika depended on TJ Pressley inside and Kenneth Keith on the outside. The two combined for 38 points.
“Wow, what a game. Carver is good, they are big and deep. When they substitute they send a player into the game who is as big as the player who comes out. I am proud for the kids,” said Coach Wadsworth after the game.
The Dawgs followed those two wins with a win over Central to insure a tie for first place in Area Five. Opelika started quickly at Central, scoring 14 straight points on their way to a 12-point win, 77-65.
Kenneth Keith hit three three-pointers in the first 1:30 in the game. This helped Opelika hit seven of 14 from outside the three-point line. TJ Pressley hit a game-high 24 points while Keith finished with 20 points.
Coach Wadsworth was pleased to finish first in the Area, “Huge win! We are getting better and playing good basketball right now. We are having fun and, when that happens, you play relaxed and good things happen”
The boys will host Lanett tonight at 7 p.m. at the Sports Arena on the OHS campus.
I encourage you to come watch the two OHS basketball teams play. You will enjoy watching the hustle, the defensive effort and the unselfish play by the kids.
Both teams have a chance to go a long way in the playoffs.
The OHS wrestling team participated in the Grissom Duals in Huntsville. The team finished 3-1, beating Buckhorn, East Limestone and Fort Payne.
The undefeated OHS wrestlers were Victor Nelms and Marquise Banks. Tyler Carter, Ivan Ramos, Mark Preston, Lacarriss Patrick, Zay Mitchell, Ethan Knight and Eric Jackson all finished with three wins each. Dalton Scoggins won the individual 132 lb. weight class.
The Dawgs will travel to the Mortimer Jordan Invitational this weekend.
Junior JaKell Mitchell continues to get offers from schools. Last week Duke offered Mitchell a scholarship. Tulane and Auburn both offered Mitchell over the weekend. I expect there will be several more schools to offer him scholarships before he graduates.
Junior defensive back Stephen Roberts has been invited to the University of Alabama’s Elite Junior Camp this weekend. Roberts has the size and speed to play Division One football.
You can keep up with Opelika athletics on a daily basis by going to the official web site of Opelika athletics, www.thedawgnetwork.com.
The site is updated nightly. You can find scores, breaking news, schedules and other information pertaining to Opelika athletics.
On The Mark
You can also keep up with Opelika sports on a daily basis by listening to my radio show,”ON THE MARK” every weekday morning from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on WTLM 1520 AM and on the web at www.kickerfm.com/sports then click “listen live” to On The Mark.
My partner, Jeff Sasser and I, will bring you up-to-date with the happenings at OHS and OMS as well as youth sports in Opelika.
We talk with the Opelika coaches and other Opelika sports figures throughout the week.