When I worked at The Weekly Post years ago, a former weekly in Rainsville, anonymous football columnist Bum Pickens used to call the North Sand Mountain area around Higdon the “Big Woods.” Next week, the Jackson County Basketball Tournament comes to the “Big Woods” starting Monday and ending next Saturday.
Per tradition, here are my annual predictions (guesses really) on how I think the varsity divisions will play out:
No. 3-seeded North Jackson vs. No. 6 Woodville — The Chiefs will get their first semifinal appearance since 2011. North Jackson 61, Woodville 40.
No. 4 NSM vs. No. 5 Section — The Bison and Lions meet for the second time in six days. Playing home, NSM will be plenty motivated for a good showing. NSM 50, Section 43.
No. 1 Pisgah vs. No. 4 NSM — Four-time defending Jackson County champion Pisgah beings its quest to repeat on a good note. Pisgah 74, NSM 57.
No. 2 Skyline vs. No. 3 North Jackson — Ronnie McCarver leads Skyline against one of his former varsity boys players at Section, Josh Wright. In the end, Skyline advances to the county finals for the fourth straight season. Skyline 67, North Jackson 55.
No. 1 Pisgah vs. No. 2 Skyline — It’s Round 4 for these teams in the championship game, and both teams may bring their best teams in that stretch to this year’s finals. Last year was a battle to the end before Pisgah prevailed 59-53. Expect another photo finish, but I’ll go with Pisgah until they’re dethroned. Pisgah 77, Skyline 71.
No. 3-seed Pisgah vs. No. 6 Woodville — The Panthers push Pisgah before the Eagles escape with a close win. Pisgah 64, Woodville 57.
No. 4 Skyline vs. No. 5 North Jackson — This has the making of a down-to-the-wire game. Skyline’s Collin Lockard is a mismatch inside that makes the difference. Skyline 58, North Jackson 53.
No. 1 NSM vs. No. 4 Skyline — It’s a clash of tempos, and typically in those clashes NSM’s fast-paced style wins out. NSM 88, Skyline 77.
No. 2 Section vs. No. 3 Pisgah — The Lions win a rematch of last year’s title game and advance to the finals for the 12th straight season. Section 72, Pisgah 60.
No. 1 NSM vs. No. 2 Section — The Bison and Lions have played three great games already this season. The Bison take Round 4 at home. NSM 91, Section 86.