NORTH JACKSON CHIEFS

› Coach: Tony Brown (first season)

› First game: Nov. 19 at Scottsboro

› Area: Class 4A Area 14

› Area opponents: DAR, Madison County, New Hope

› 2019-20 record/finish: 17-11; Class 4A Area 14 Tournament runner-up, 4A sub-regionals

› Roster: Seniors Gavin Cooper, Johnny Gilliam, Nigel Lanier, Cam Mitchell, Ayson Quinn, Cade Reed, Alex Roper, Akilan Summers, Brandyn Thompson; juniors Kade Cagle, Kylan Cagle, Brady Cunningham, Gannon Jernigan, Preston Miller, Devonte Pickett

› Returning starters: 2 — Cade Reed and Brady Cunningham

› Storylines: Tony Brown returns for a second tenure as Chiefs head coach after coaching North Jackson from 1998-2002. He replaced Zac Barringer, who resigned after three seasons to join the coaching staff at Hazel Green High School…North Jackson goes from a three-team area to a four-team area this season…The Chiefs must replace three starters, including all-county performers Eli Gill and Tyrus Jackson.

› Quoting coach: “We should be a good defensive team. Finding leaders to replace the starters that graduated (are keys to success). We must find a way to step up and take the scoring lost from last year.”

› Area outlook: “The area is super competitive. The addition of New Hope and Madison County just makes it more competitive. All the teams put out a very competitive team every year.”

 

NSM BISON

Coach: Cole Hicks (fourth season)

› First game: Nov. 17 at Gaston

› Area: Class 2A Area 15

› Area opponents: Ider, Section, Pisgah

› 2019-20 record/finish: 19-9; Class 2A Area 15 Tournament runner-up, 2A sub-regionals

› Roster: Seniors Lake Bell, Noah Helton, Luke Maples, Russ Marr, Josh Palmer, Harley Tucker, Josey Williams; juniors Derek Bearden, Drue Carlton, Kaleb Helton; sophomore Chandler Sullivan

› Returning starters: 5 — Lake Bell, Derek Bearden, Drue Carlton, Luke Maples, Russ Marr

› Storylines: NSM returns mostly intact, losing only two players, from last season’s 19-win team that won the program’s first Jackson County Tournament championship since 2009…Marr, a four-year starter, was a second-team all-state selection while Bearden, Marr and Maples, the Jackson County Tournament MVP, were All-County selections…NSM will play in an area with Jackson County rivals Pisgah and Section for the first time since the AHSAA expanded to six classifications in 1984.

› Quoting coach: “I We were able to get a lot of big game experience with all of the guys last year. We have three guards (Maples, Marr and Bearden) that have played a lot of games at the varsity level and have been through the battles. I think all of the guys are hard-nosed and that is what it takes to play this style. These guys are super competitive and are hungry. Taking two-and-a-half months off due to quarantine in the spring added fuel to them. Coach Glen Hicks does an excellent job with our substitution pattern. We have to stay healthy. Last year was a nightmare early on due to injuries and sickness. We have to be ready to play and be flexible with COVID. We have to get it in a track meet every game and play our (fast-paced) style. We have to stay hungry. All of the guys must accept their roles for us to be successful.” 

› Area outlook: “Once again it will be a tough area. Section was a young team last year and they were able to get a lot of game experience. Pisgah has a new coach and they will be solid. Ider was a very young team last year and returned pretty much all of their guys. All three of those schools’ coaches do an excellent job and we will have to be ready to play every night.”

 

PISGAH EAGLES

› Coach: Lamar Hendricks (first season)

› First game: Nov. 17 vs. Fyffe

› Area: Class 2A Area 15

› Area opponents: NSM, Section, Ider

› 2019-20 record/finish: 7-19; Class 3A Area 15 Tournament semifinals

› Roster: Seniors Zach Cornelison, Blake Giles, Jarrett Keller, Brody Parker; juniors Rhyan Barrett, Jacob Hendricks, Dylan Mathis, Jonathan Shelton; freshmen Mason Holcomb, Grant Smith

› Returning starters: 1 — Zach Cornelison

› Storylines: Lamar Hendricks takes over as head coach after Woody Beard resigned following a 23-year tenure. Hendricks, a Pisgah alum, was a Fort Payne assistant coach the past three seasons…Hendricks’ son Jacob, a key player at Fort Payne last season, is now playing for the Eagles…Pisgah will compete in a region with county rivals Section and NSM for the first time since the AHSAA expanded to more than four classifications in 1984.

› Quoting coach: “Good leadership and really good effort (are team strengths). The (coaching transition has gone pretty good. Got a lot of good people that will answer any questions I might have. Dealing with the  virus has definitely been challenging, but everybody is going through the same thing. I believe that once the kids understand what we are trying to do and get accustomed to playing that way, we have a chance to be successful, but it is a process and a lot of work for the kids.”

› Area outlook: “I believe that our area is going to be very tough this year. Got three very good and much improved teams. Hopefully we can find our way and compete with all of them.”

SCOTTSBORO WILDCATS

› Coach: Jason Bell (first season)

› First game: Nov. 10 vs. St. John Paul II (Won 71-49)

› Area: Class 6A Area 15

› Area opponents: Arab, Buckhorn, Fort Payne

› 2019-20 record/finish: 17-13; Class 5A Area 15 Tournament semifinals

› Roster: Seniors JaVaris Branford, Sam Cobb, Jordan Davis, Clay Giles, BJ Harris, Micah Kritner, Noah Linville; juniors Blake Jones, Cordell Worthy; sophomores Parker Bell, Tyson Sexton and Seth Whitmire

› Returning starters: 4 — JaVaris Branford, Jordan Davis, BJ Harris, Parker Bell

› Storylines: Jason Bell takes over as head coach after seven seasons as an assistant to former head coach Kenny Hill…Scottsboro lost just one senior from last year’s team…The Wildcats move up from Class 5A to Class 6A. Scottsboro’s area has been bracketed for the Northwest Regional, meaning Scottsboro would play at Wallace State Community College should it advance to the regionals. It’s the first time Scottsboro’s been bracket to the Northwest. 

› Quoting coach: “The transition has been relatively smooth. We are fortunate to have guys in our program who love basketball and will do whatever is asked of them. I am blessed with a great (coaching) staff (Derek Borum, Tavaras Tolliver, Tristan Sexton, and Caleb Haynes) and they really stepped up over the summer during the transition period from when Coach Hill left and when I got hired. There is no doubt that already knowing most of the players, and them knowing me, has helped during that transition. With seven seniors, leadership should be our main strength. We have guys who have played in varsity games before — this is BJ’s fifth year to play varsity basketball — so that experience coupled with their leadership are definitely our strengths. It is much easier to lead when you have been there before. We are not very big, so it is imperative that we shoot the ball well. If we do, we should have a chance most nights. If we don’t shoot well, our effort will have to keep us in games, and we are going to play hard.”

› Area outlook: “Our area will be one of the most competitive that we have played in, in terms of teams 1-4 all being capable of winning. We have been playing Fort Payne and Arab for years and it is a battle every time we play. Coach (Michael) Banks has been at Fort Payne long enough to have established the type of program he wants, and he has coached those guys since they were on the JV team. Coach (Justin) Jonus at Arab always does a great job as well. We lost to them in the first round (of the area tournament) last year. And then you add Buckhorn to the mix. They will be the most athletic team in the area, and they have a coach who has won around 1,000 games. The only thing I know for sure is that we cannot afford not to bring our ‘A’ game every night. It should make for an interesting area tournament in February.”

 

SECTION LIONS

› Coach: Derek Wynn (third season)

› First game: Nov. 12 at DAR (Won 66-60 [3OT]

› Area: Class 2A Area 15

› Area opponents: North Sand Mountain, Pisgah, Ider

› 2019-20 record/finish: 13-12, area tournament semifinals

› Roster: Seniors Logan Bishop, Kade Harper; juniors Braden Arndt, Dominik Blair, Kaden Bradford, Jacob Cooper, Alex Guinn, Gabriel Hilley, Drake McCutchen, Logan Patterson, Jared Reed

› Returning starters: 2 — Alex Guinn, Logan Patterson

› Storylines: Although it returns just two full-time starters, Section returns an experienced lineup that gained even more experience after former Scottsboro varsity players Blair and Cooper transferred to Section last summer…Returning starters Patterson and Guinn were all-county selections last season…Section plays in an area against county rivals North Sand Mountain and Pisgah for the first time since the AHSAA expanded to more than four classifications in 1984. 

› Quoting coach: “This year is all about building off the experience they gained last year. We will have to share the basketball and be disciplined in everything we do.  This team is really a tight knit group and sometimes that's rare.  We need to remain that way through the season and not listen to all the noise that will come along as the season progresses. I think this year we will be better offensively. This group saw last year where they were and have worked hard to be better at their weaknesses. Defensively we will be longer and will hopefully be able to use that to our advantage.”  

› Area outlook: “This year will be a battle every night. NSM is at the top as they always are. Pisgah is coming down from 3A. They have a new coaching staff so they will be a wildcard. Traditional they are always in the thick of things every basketball season. Ider will be much improved. I felt they were better at the end of the year, than when they started the season. So I'm sure they have been building off of that momentum.”

 

SKYLINE VIKINGS

› Coach: T.J. Perry (first season)

› First game: Nov. 10 at Brindlee Mountain (Won 68-38)

› Area: Class 1A Area 13

› Area opponents: Woodville, Cedar Bluff, Gaylesville, Valley Head

› 2019-20 record/finish: 30-4; Class 1A Area 14 Tournament champion, 1A Northeast Regional semifinals

› Roster: Seniors Matt Burton, Jaylon Clements, Camden Gilliam, Dylan Knight, Curtis Knopps, Jamison Rowell, Hank Utter, Gavin York; juniors Weston Avans, Logan Evans; sophomore Chase Bickers

› Returning starters: 1 — Jaylon Clements

› Storylines: T.J. Perry takes over as head coach after years an assistant. He replaces Ronnie McCarver, who will only coach the Skyline varsity girls after coaching both Skyline varsity teams the last seven years…Skyline returns only one player, returning starter Clements, from last season’s 30-win team…Skyline enters the season having won 11 consecutive area tournament championships…the Vikings opened their season with a 68-38 win over Brindlee Mountain…former Geraldine varsity boys head coach Joey Rowell has joined the program as an assistant. His son Jamison is on the roster.

› Quoting coach: “T I was fortunate the past 11 years. Coach McCarver let me be involved in a lot of the coaching so I feel I have some experience. I’m familiar with the kids, so there wasn’t a lot of transition in that aspect. Our expectations and values haven’t changed just because a different guy gets to stand during the games. We have some older kids, just not many with varsity experience. The saying, ‘Culture is more valuable than experience,’ will be tested. But the kids have been great. If we aren’t good enough, it’s not because we haven’t tried to get there. With a one-year coach and eight seniors, I think the urgency to be good in a small period of time has been high. I think we have a lot of depth and we’ll dress eleven guys and we feel all eleven can help us in different ways. For a 1A team, we have a lot of size, length and athleticism. Our guard play should be solid. We will lean heavily on our two inside players, Jaylon Clements and Weston Avans. We are playing a lot more in the full court, with a lot different types of presses and we are trying to play a little faster on the offensive end. So adjusting and learning on the fly will be the key. Just playing with a lot of confidence, being fearless of mistakes and being competitive will hopefully lead to a successful season.”

› Area outlook: “I’m not really familiar with the teams, besides that I know Woodville has two of the better players in the area. Really for us right now it’s going be more about us focused on ourselves than the competition.”

 

WOODVILLE PANTHERS

› Coach: Bubba Smith (fourth season)

› First game: Nov. 20 at Lindsay Lane

› Area: Class 1A Area 13

› Area opponents: Skyline, Cedar Bluff, Gaylesville, Valley Head

› 2019-20 record/finish: 16-15; Class 1A Area 14 Tournament runner-up, 1A sub-regionals

› Roster: Seniors Easton Parker, Jackson Peek, Tucker Provens, Damyon Reid, Zach Robertson, Carlos Torres; juniors Garrett Copeland, Caleb Dolberry, Brice Thompson; sophomore Damien Benson; freshman Trey Stone

› Returning starters: 2 — Caleb Dolberry, Jackson Peek

› Storylines: The Panthers lost three starters but return their top-two scorers, all-county selections Peek and Dolberry, and several key reserves…Woodville has been in the sub-regionals the past two seasons, falling in close games to Lindsay Lane and the state’s all-time leading scorer Tommy Murr, who is now at Lipscomb…Woodville’s area stayed the same with the exception of the addition of Cedar Bluff.

› Quoting coach: “The leadership of our seniors (is a strength). Depth, length and two leading scorers back is big for us. Must stay healthy — no COVID quarantines. We need to shoot ball better from 3, to open up the  post for our bigs.”

› Area outlook: “Same area as last year with addition of Cedar Bluff moving from 2A. I think we have a chance to compete with anyone on our schedule if we play to our potential.”

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