After starting out the season at No. 5, Octavia Kierce, right, and the Lady Hornets (18-2) have slowly ascended up the Fab 5 Poll this season and now sit at No. 2. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBANY --- That’s the magic number for Westover’s Lady Patriots, who will take the night off tonight before finishing the regular season against Crisp County, Herald No. 3 Monroe and Herald No. 5 Americus-Sumter. They’re 22-0 and have been at the top of the Herald Fab 5 poll since the poll first debuted back in November. They’re also sitting at No. 2 in the Class AAA state poll.
“They’ve made history,’’ Westover principal William Chunn said Monday. “I can’t recall any Westover team going 22-0, and I know no Westover team ever had a perfect season, so they have already made history. And it’s great history, because we have such great basketball history at Westover.’’
Albany High’s Indians aren’t perfect, but almost. They have clearly established themselves as the best boys team in Southwest Georgia with a 16-2 record, and both losses they suffered came in the final seconds. They’re still at No. 1 in the Fab 5 poll — but face a huge weekend in front of them. They meet Berrien tonight at the Civic Center and then travel to Thomasville on Friday for a Region 1-AA first-place showdown against the Bulldogs. Then they cap off the brutal week by playing Herald No. 2 Early County on Saturday at the Civic Center.
Nothing has changed at the top of the boys and girls polls, but there was plenty of movement this week outside the No. 1 slots Bainbridge’s Bearcats move up from No. 5 to No. 4. They’ve won 10 in a row, including an impressive 53-45 win against state-ranked Thomasville last week.
“We always start a little slow,’’ said Bainbridge coach Rickey McCullough, whose team is 15-4. “We have to get our football players (back from football season), so it always takes us a minute. But I knew we would be OK and it would just take a while to get going.’’
Bainbridge’s four losses have all been close. The Bearcats have lost twice in overtime and haven’t been beaten by more than four points this season.
Bainbridge’s top player, Rodney Glenn, played his first year of football this season and was a force as a safety for the Bearcats’ playoff football team. Glenn is a big part of the recent run, but McCullough said it’s also that time of year.
“We’re playing better together,’’ he said. “We appreciate (being moved up in the poll). There’s a lot of good teams in Albany this year.’’
There is also a new No. 5 team in the boys poll as Calhoun County makes its debut this week. The Cougars — who are led by Vincent Powell, a fearless, quicksilver guard — are 15-4 and have won eight in a row, including an impressive 80-67 victory against Terrell County.
Terrell County (14-7) is on the bubble and could soon crack the poll after beating Westover for the second time this season this past Saturday night. Westover (14-7) was ranked No. 1 three weeks ago, but was dropped completely out of the poll after losing four of its last eight games. Still, the Patriots should be a force down the stretch and into the playoffs.
There was also a change in the girls poll, where Pelham (18-2) moved up from No. 3 to No. 2, replacing Dougherty (12-5), which lost to Westover and Crisp County last week. The Lady Trojans, who are the defending Region 1-AAA champs, know how to win when it counts and look to be a formidable team when the playoffs arrive.
Dougherty, which falls to No. 4 in the poll this week, faces a big test tonight against Monroe, which beat Crisp County last week, 52-44, and beat Dougherty earlier this season. The Lady Tornadoes (13-6) move from No. 4 to No. 3 in this week’s poll.
NEW HERALD FAB 5 POLL:
1.) Albany ..................16-2
The Indians, winners of six in a row, hold down the top spot for the third consecutive week but face a long stretch of games in the next five days, starting tonight. Next: vs. Berrien at Civic Center, 7 p.m. today.
2.) Early County .........17-4
The Bobcats went 2-1 last week and could overtake Albany in the No. 1 spot if it can get revenge on the Indians in their rematch at the Civic Center on Saturday. Next: vs. Seminole County, 7:30 p.m. today.
3.) Monroe ............... 14-5
The Tornadoes face three tough games this week: vs. Dougherty tonight at the Civic Center, at Cairo on Friday and then Terrell County on Saturday, also at the Civic Center. Next: vs. Dougherty, 7 p.m. today at Civic Center.
4.) Bainbridge ...........15-4
The Bearcats, winners of 10 straight, finally move out of the No. 5 spot they’ve held down for much of the year and up to No. 4 this week. Next: at Pelham, 7:30 p.m. today.
5.) Calhoun County .........15-4
Welcome to the Fab 5 Poll, Cougars. Led by Vincent Powell and Marquez Williams, Calhoun has won eight in a row and is perfect in the subregion at 8-0. Next: vs. Webster County, 7:30 p.m. Friday.
1.) Westover .................22-0
The Lady Patriots, who face a huge game Friday vs. Crisp, have been No. 1 all year and are three wins away from the first perfect regular season in school history. Next: vs. Crisp County, 6:30 p.m. Friday.
The Lady Hornets, last year’s 1-A champ, have been moving up the poll all year and go from No. 3 last week to No. 2 with a big home test tonight. Next: vs. Bainbridge 6 p.m. today.
The Lady Tornadoes, based on their previous win against city rival Dougherty, leapfrog the Lady Trojans this week, but the rematch looms tonight. Next: vs. Dougherty 5:30 p.m. today at Civic Center.
The Lady Trojans lost twice last week and fall from No. 2 to No. 4, but could easily climb back up if they beat No. 3 Monroe tonight. Next: vs. Monroe 5:30 p.m. today at Civic Center.
5.) Americus-Sumter............................................... 14-6
The Lady Panthers are in danger of losing the No. 5 spot if they don’t have a perfect week, beginning tonight against a dangerous Crisp County team. Next: at Crisp County, 6 p.m. today.
Teams eligible for poll: Albany, Monroe, Dougherty, Westover, Sherwood Christian Academy, Deerfield-Windsor, Terrell County, Terrell Academy, Pelham, Westwood, Mitchell County, Miller County, Bainbridge, Seminole County, Early County, Randolph-Clay, Randolph Southern, Southwest Georgia Academy, Southland, Americus-Sumter, Lee County, Worth County, Calhoun County. Poll voted on by Herald sports staff and released every Tuesday.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
“This game was big. We want the No. 1 seed. And this is the kind of game that can help us later in the playoffs.’’
------- Marquis Davis,
Monroe boys basketball coach after beating Crisp County last Tuesday to remain perfect in Region 1-AAA with the No. 1 seed in the region tournament about to be decided
BY THE NUMBERS:
The number of points scored by the Early County boys basketball team in the second half of a 58-34 loss to Thomasville last week. The 34 total points and 10 second-half points were both season lows.
Number of shots the Monroe girls basketball team missed in a row last Tuesday against Crisp County after taking a 3-0 lead, then storming back to win 52-44.
GAMES OF THE WEEK:
(Game times reflect girls game first, followed by the boys game)
Monroe girls, boys vs. Dougherty at the Civic Center, 5:30 & 8:30 p.m.
Bainbridge girls, boys at Pelham, 6 & 7:30 p.m.
Westwood girls, boys at Crisp Academy, 6:30 & 8 p.m.
Deerfield girls, boys at Southland, 6:30 & 8 p.m.
Crisp County girls, boys at Westover, 6 & 7:30 p.m.
Albany girls, boys at Thomasville, 6 & 7:30 p.m.
Monroe girls, boys at Cairo, 6 & 7:30 p.m.
Early County girls, boys vs. Albany High at the Civic Center, 4 & 7 p.m.
Terrell County girls, boys vs. Monroe at the Civic Center, 5:30 & 8:30 p.m.
Randolph-Clay girls, boys at Calhoun County, 6 & 7:30 p.m.
AREA BOYS, GIRLS HOOPS SCHEDULE:
Berrien County girls vs. Albany at Civic Center
Grace Christian Academy girls at Randolph Southern
Dougherty girls vs. Monroe at Civic Center
Grace Christian Academy boys at Randolph Southern
Bainbridge girls at Pelham
Terrell County girls at Quitman County
Seminole County girls at Early County
Randolph-Clay girls at Abbeville
SGA girls at Brookwood
Seminole County girls at Early County
Thomas County Central girls at Lee County
Americus-Sumter girls at Crisp County
Baker County girls at Miller County
Westwood girls at Crisp Academy
Terrell Academy girls at Fullington
DWS girls at Southland
Berrien County boys vs. Albany High at Civic Center
Bainbridge boys at Pelham
Terrell County boys at Quitman County
Americus-Sumter boys at Crisp County
Seminole County boys at Early County
Randolph-Clay boys at Abbeville
SGA boys at Brookwood
Thomas County Central boys at Lee County
Baker County boys at Miller County
Westwood boys at Crisp Academy
DWS boys at Southland
Terrell Academy boys at Fullington
Dougherty boys vs. Monroe at Civic
Pelham girls at Miller County
Webster County girls at Calhoun County
Monroe girls at Cairo
Bainbridge girls at Thomas County Central
Brooks County girls at Early County
Eufaula (Ala.) girls at Randolph-Clay
Seminole County girls at Baker County
Crisp County girls at Westover
Terrell County girls at SGA
Albany girls at Thomasville
Southland girls at Tiftarea
Westwood boys at GA Christian
Randolph Southern girls at Crisp Academy
Terrell Acadmey girls at SGA
Pelham boys at Miller County
Webster County boys at Calhoun County
Monroe boys at Cairo
Albany boys at Thomasville
Bainbridge boys at Thomas County Central
Brooks County boys at Early County
Eufaula (Ala.) boys at Randolph-Clay
Seminole County boys at Baker County
Crisp County boys at Westover
Southland girls at Tiftarea
Randolph Southern boys at Crisp Academy
Terrell Academy boys at SGA
Early County girls vs. Albany High at Civic Center
Terrell County girls vs. Monroe at Civic Center
Mitchell County girls at Pelham
Randolph-Clay girls at Calhoun County
Cairo girls at Bainbridge
Crisp County girls at Valdosta
Miller County girls at Baker County
Westfield girls at DWS
Early County boys vs. Albany High at Civic Center
Mitchell County boys at Pelham
Randolph-Clay boys at Calhoun County
Cairo boys at Bainbridge
Miller County boys at Baker County
Crisp County boys at Valdosta
Westfield boys at DWS
Terrell County boys vs. Monroe at Civic Center