Keith’s Demond Holmes (22) and Southside’s Octavius Gulley battle for a rebound during a game this season. Keith and Southside were both among teams ranked in the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s first basketball rankings of the 2012-2013 season. -- File Photo

Dallas County, Black Belt well represented in state basketball rankings

Published 10:20pm Monday, December 3, 2012

With the release of the first Alabama Sports Writers Association basketball rankings of the season last week, a number of Dallas County and Black Belt schools found themselves placed among the best in the state.

The Keith High School boys and girls, Southside boys and Dallas County boys basketball teams were all ranked in the first ASWA basketball rankings of the 2012-2013 season.

The Keith boys were ranked No. 4 in Class 1A, while the Keith girls were ranked No. 7 in Class 1A, the Southside boys were ranked No. 5 in Class 3A, and the Dallas County boys were ranked No. 6 in Class 4A.

Other Black Belt schools also had a presence in the first rankings of the season, as the Sumter-Central boys were ranked No. 2 in Class 5A, the Wilcox-Central boys were ranked No. 4 in Class 4A, the R.C. Hatch boys were ranked No. 1 in Class 2A, the Francis Marion boys were ranked No. 7 in Class 2A, and the R.C. Hatch girls were ranked No. 7 in Class 2A.

Cedric Brown, head boys basketball coach of Southside High School, said the rankings reflect the quality of basketball in Alabama’s Black Belt.

“It’s been a while since pretty much all of the local teams in the Black Belt have been ranked in the first rankings. It’s good to see it happening because of the simple fact that it kind of lets us know that basketball is kind of back here in the Black Belt,” Brown said. “With my team, it’s just a matter of every night coming out and working hard because you never know who’s watching.”

Brown added that while the rankings are a good accolade for his team, they’re making sure it doesn’t distract from the ultimate goal of the season.

“We use it as a motivational tool because the ultimate goal is to be No. 1 at the end of the year,” Brown said. “No matter what your ranking is, each and every night you’ve got to go out and play hard because you can be knocked off. When it comes to rankings, we don’t boast or brag about it, it’s kind of there. It’s good to know you’re ranked, too, because it gives you something to work toward.”

Keith boys basketball coach Tommy Tisdale agreed that the rankings reflect positively on a program, but said they don’t necessarily reflect where a team will end up at the end of the season.

“It means somebody thinks we’re doing a decent job, I would assume. The first rankings, of course, come off of your first few games and off of some of what you did last year. With perception, I guess it says other people observe us and seem to think we’re pretty good,” Tisdale said. “I’m not going to get too high on it, I’m not going to get too low on it. I shared with my guys when they found out about it that last time we were No. 4, we lost in the first round of the area tournament. The previous season, we were unranked and went to the final four, so although it’s a great accolade for your community and school, I think the guys understand that there’s still work to be done.”

Cecil Williams, head girls basketball coach of Keith, said he doesn’t take the rankings too seriously because any team can fall at any time. And while he said his team is deserving, it’s important that they maintain focus.

“Being my first time with the team and it being ranked, I notice that they put us as the No. 7 team and honestly that’s no problem with me. Anybody can be beaten on any given day, so the records and rankings don’t mean too much because on any day you can lose a game,” Williams said. “The main thing is that we prepare ourselves and stay focused on the task at hand. The most important thing about that is that we do have a good team and we have potential to make a run. So that’s why it’s important to keep them focused, keep them on task and keep them working so that they don’t lose sight of what we’re chasing.”

Willie Moore, head boys basketball coach of Dallas County High School, also sees the rankings as a positive for the program, but it’s not something he lets distract his team from the task at hand.

“We just try to make sure that they focus on playing Dallas County basketball and not focus on the rankings because the rankings are just basically the sports writers’ opinion of our team and of our program, not necessarily of what we see each day from our kids,” Moore said. “So we know our strengths and weaknesses, and we know the things that we need to work on, and we know the things that we do fairly well. We try to keep them grounded by maintaining working on fundamentals and working on getting better each day.”

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