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Hatch begins quest for 4-peat

The R.C. Hatch basketball team will likely continue its role as the hunted this season.

The Bobcats won their third consecutive AHSAA Class 2A state title last year to further cement their reputation as one of the most successful programs in the state. And the records back it up.

The R.C. Hatch trophy case holds 10 basketball titles, the most won by any school in Alabama. Six teams are tied for second place at a number the Bobcats scoff at with six.

Now the Bobcats have a shot at a rare feat. The only other team to pull off a 4-peat is Francis Marion, who won four state titles from 1988-91.

“I think they’re prepared for a great season,” R.C. Hatch coach Homer Davis said of his players. “We’re going to be young this year, but they work hard year round. They’re ready for the season to start.”

The first step begins on Friday at Livingston. Davis sees the Cougars as an early, tough test for a young team that returns only one starter in Brandon Battle.

“Livingston has a great program and winning tradition,” said Davis. “They’re one of the powerhouses we play. They’ve got all their players returning.”

Winning three straight titles prevents the Bobcats from sneaking up on opponents as well. They enter the 2008-09 season with a bull’s-eye planted firmly on their backs.

“Everyone plays us hard,” said Davis. “They play us harder than anybody. We just have to be prepared.”

The Bobcats and Cougars tip off at 5 p.m. in Livingston.