Round 2 of Monroe-Westover to be moved?

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- The Dougherty County Schools athletic committee is exploring a thought process to move the Feb. 5 boys basketball game between The Herald's top two boys teams -- No. 1 Monroe and No. 2 Westover -- to either Albany State or Darton College.

Of course, that move could die on the table if Monroe coach Marquis Davis has anything to say about it.

Davis contends that since the Patriots hosted their first cross-town rivalry showdown Jan. 8 -- a game won by the Tornadoes, 61-58 -- his team should have the right to host this upcoming game.

"I think it would be right for us to have the opportunity to play them on our court, too," Davis told The Herald. "I know it would be inconvenient for fans, but everyone wants their home court when it's time."

Westover's gym, in the first game between the teams, was packed to the gills.

"I don't know the number at the last game, but it was probably too crowded," Westover coach Dallis Smith conceded.

Monroe's gym capacity is 850 while Westover's is 1,350. The capacities at Albany State's HPER Gymnasium and Darton's Cavalier Arena, on the other hand, are 4,000 and 3,500, respectively.

Athletic committee chairman Milton Griffin said he would have the same response if he was in Davis' shoes.

"If I was a coach, I wouldn't do it," Griffin said. "It would be unfair to (Monroe). Monroe had to play at Westover, so it's fair for them to come back and play at Monroe the second time."

Taken into account during the thought process of possibly moving the game are crowd accommodations, costs and whether Monroe would be open to having its home game taken away.

"It's just a thought process for not only this game, but also games in the future involving all our city teams that would attract huge crowds," Dougherty County athletic director Johnny Seabrooks said. "We want as many fans as possible to see the games."

The Albany Civic Center was briefly in the discussion but then was discounted due to the rates -- which would certainly be higher than Darton or ASU -- the facility charges.

"To have it at another place where you can have a large amount of people would be a good thing, but that's totally up to coach Davis," Smith said. "That's his home game. It doesn't matter where we play."

The Herald recently ran an opinion poll, asking readers if they favored the Monroe-Westover rematch being moved to a bigger facility and the responses favored moving it. Seabrooks said he was not sure if the poll had any impact on Tuesday's meeting.

The Monroe-Westover boys game has no impact on which school hosts the GHSA Region 1-AAA tournament even if that game determines the regular-season region title. The event, which usually goes to a top seed, will be held at the site of the girls regular-season champion.

Some 1,500 tickets were sold to the recent Westover-Monroe game and Westover principal William Chunn said the school actually had to refund money and turned people away, but couldn't put a number on how many were tuned away.

"After witnessing what I saw (in the Westover-Monroe game) the other night -- for the safety of everyone involved -- if they came up with an alternate site I wouldn't have a problem with it.''