Four more prep hoops games moved to Civic Center

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- Tell the folks from Dawson and Albany High to come on down.

About the only things missing from the resurrection of high school basketball at the Albany Civic Center have been the Indians, Squaws, the Greenwave and Lady Greenwave.

Not any more.

School officials are bringing another quadrupleheader to the Civic Center, where thousands have shown up for the first two rounds of games played there since 2004. And when Albany High meets Dougherty and Terrell County faces Westover on Jan. 29, the crowd could be even bigger.

"We're hoping for a huge crowd,'' said Dougherty County School System Assistant Superintendent Kenneth Goseer, who helped bring high school hoops back to the Civic Center. "We think this could be the biggest crowd of the year. I think Terrell County will bring 1,500 fans or more."

Goseer then added: "I've already talked to the superintendent, the head basketball coach and the athletic director at Terrell County and they are already doing some publicity for this game. I'm looking for a huge crowd. Both historically -- and this year -- they have good squads."

The first two events at the Civic Center drew crowds in the neighborhood of 3,000, but anyone who has followed Terrell County basketball knows the kind of support Dawson has for the teams. They drew a standing-room only crowd last Saturday when an estimated crowd of 2,000 showed up to see the Greenwave beat Westover, and last year the Greenwave faithful almost took over in Macon, where a sea of green and gold shirts filled the stands during the Final Four.

They love basketball in Dawson -- just like in Albany.

That's why Goseer and superintendent Joshua Murfree spearheaded the move to bring high school basketball back to the Civic Center, where it has been a huge success.

"We are hearing nothing but positive comments,'' Goseer said. "It's all been positive.''

The only city high school that had not played in the Civic Center had been Albany High, and Goseer said he wanted to get the Indians and Squaws in the Civic Center sooner but couldn't because of scheduling problems.

"We are really glad we had the opening to get them in Civic Center,'' Goseer said. "It's getting to be the thing now. Everyone wants to play there. It has been a huge success.''

That's how far high school basketball has come in just a few short weeks, and many have talked about how these games have returned Albany to the glory days of the 1990s when high school basketball at the Civic Center was a way of life and helped define the Good Life City.

"We always wanted to play games there. That's the ideal place to play,'' said Albany boys coach Archie Chatmon, who coached games in the Civic Center in the '90s. "(Games) left because of financial reasons.''

Chatmon knows how big the games can be in the Civic Center, and he also knows the kind of adjustment players have to make to the longer court and the baskets, which don't have the same comfortable backdrop of a small gym.

"It requires a different type of mentality,'' Chatmon said. "Shooting is a lot harder, and this is the first time our kids will be there.''

Chatmon also knows if his team, which looks more and more like a squad that can make a run in the Class AA playoffs, does get to the postseason, the Civic Center experience could be priceless.

"It's a good opportunity for our kids to be playing in that building,'' Chatmon said. "You're going to have to play in facilities like that if you advance in the playoffs. We've never played in it. It's a different world, and it could help us (if we get deep in the playoffs).''

The doubleheader will also be the first high school games played on a Saturday night in the Civic Center, and that may add to the attendance.

The games should draw interest from basketball fans all over Southwest Georgia because the boys game between Dougherty, which is ranked No. 5 in The Herald Top 5 poll, and city rival Albany, which is one of the hottest teams in the area of late, should be a classic.

The Terrell County and Westover boys game is a rematch of last Saturday's game, which catapulted Terrell County (13-1 and ranked No. 4 in the Class A state poll) from No. 5 up to No. 2 in The Herald's Top 5 and dropped Westover from No. 3 to No. 4.

The girls games begin at 4 p.m. with Herald No. 1 Westover facing Terrell County, followed by Herald No. 4 Dougherty meeting Albany at 5:30 p.m. At 7 p.m., Albany's Indians meet Dougherty's Trojans, and Westover and Terrell County's boys team face each other in the 8:30 p.m. nightcap.