Regionals start march to Final Four


Tamera Giles (24) and the Holy Spirit girls face Loachapoka in Class 1A regional action at 3 p.m. today in Montgomery. The Lady Titans lost in the state championship game last year. (Photo by Michelle Lepianka Carter)


The Holy Spirit girls basketball team and the Pickens County boys basketball team each advanced to the AHSAA Tournament semifinal round in Birmingham last year. To do so again, they’ll have to win twice in Montgomery.

A total of 19 boys and girls teams from West Alabama qualified for regional play. Holy Spirit and Pickens County will be in action today in the Central Regional at Alabama State University.

Holy Spirit, which has a 24-6 record under the direction of first-year coach Jim Holland, plays Loachapoka (22-3) at 3 this afternoon. The Pickens County Tornadoes (18-7) face St. Jude (24-6) at 4:30.

Holy Spirit reached the Class 1A championship game last season before falling to McIntosh 48-39.

Pickens County, coached by Patrick Plott, won the boys Class 1A title by beating Cedar Bluff 70-59. Pickens County is a three-time defending state champion. The Tornadoes won the Class 2A title in 2010 and the 2011 crown when Russ Wallace was the coach.

The Greensboro boys, led by 6-foot-9 University of Alabama signee Jimmie Taylor, have won two straight championships in Class 3A. Greensboro beat Carbon Hill 65-50 in last year’s final.

Greensboro (26-2) plays Midfield Thursday in Montgomery.

The Greensboro girls (21-7) play Trinity Presbyterian on Thursday. Greensboro is led by guard Malesha Williams. Frances Dunn coached the Lady Raiders to the Class 3A runner-up spot last season. Greensboro lost in the final to Lauderdale County.

Other girls teams playing in the Central Regional include Aliceville (2A), Greene County (3A), Central (5A) and Sumter Central (5A). Central made the Class 5A regional final last season. Sumter Central made the Class 4A regional final.

The Hillcrest girls qualified for the Northwest Regional in Hanceville along with Sulligent (2A) and Winfield (3A).

The Aliceville High School boys team will play in Montgomery along with Holt (3A), Paul W. Bryant (5A) and Sumter Central. Sumter Central (4A) and Paul W. Bryant (5A) were regional runners-up last season.

The Hillcrest boys open against Sparkman at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Northwest Regional. Scott Suttles coached Hillcrest to Class 6A championships in 2011 and in 2008.

The Winfield boys also qualified for the Northwest Regional.

Linden and Sunshine will travel to Dothan to compete in the Class 1A South Regional semifinals.

Linden, which has a 23-2 record, faces Brantley. Sunshine plays J.F. Shields.