Despite finishing the football season at .500, the Tigers still won an award. It is an award some would say is bigger than the game and one that certainly shows character. Cleburne County was awarded the 2012 Fellowship of Christian Athletes Sportsmanship Award.
Jamie Strange, of the FCA of all of Calhoun, Cherokee, Clay, Cleburne, DeKalb, Etowah and parts of St. Clair and Talladega counties, was on hand along with Jon Holder from WGRW Grace Radio 90.7 FM to present the hardware.
The Tigers have now won the award three times (2001, 2005, 2012), more times than any other school has. But, as coach Michael Shortt pointed out, Cleburne County won many more games in the previous two years it won the award.
“When we went 0-3, the character that those kids showed, just to keep coming to work every day and doing what they’re supposed to do,” Shortt said. “Life is going to be that way, too. I know a lot of coaches say that, but we have to believe it.”
Before a team can win the award for the season, it must be nominated as having the most sportsmanship for a game. The voting comes from the officiating crews.
It’s always great to see a team that faced such adversity as Cleburne County, which lost all five games from points scored in the last two minutes, still play with class and sportsmanship.
“We try to teach our kids that if you work hard and pay the price, good things will happen to you,” Shortt said. “But we also tell them those good things may not be in wins and losses, it might not be when you’re actually playing, it may be when you’re 25 or 30 years old.”
• Birmingham-Southern bound: Having spent four years at Donoho and winning two state championships, volleyball player Peyton van Ekris is going to look to continue her success at Birmingham-Southern.
“When I went on my visit, I fell in love with the campus and the atmosphere there,” van Ekris said. “The team there and the coach, I love them all. They’re so sweet.”
The visit that went overnight on Dec. 3 ultimately landed the 2012 State All-Tournament team member. However, van Ekris will not sign until January.
That’s not the same case for White Plains’ Mikayla Owens, who will be sign with Southern Union on Thursday. The scholarship signing will be at 1:30 p.m.
• Breaking streak: Class 6A, No. 9 Gadsden City isn’t just 0-1 in area play for the first time after Friday night’s loss to Oxford. No, the Yellow Jackets’ win marked the first time the Titans had ever lost a region game in boys’ basketball. Ever.
That 66-57 final must hurt Gadsden City. However, Oxford coach Joel Van Meter has stayed level headed about it.
“I don’t want to understate it, but I also don’t want to overstate it,” Van Meter said. “It’s a huge win for us basically because we held court on our home court in an area game. It was a big win for our program, I think, no question.”
And although the loss was ended here in Calhoun County, on the campus of Oxford High School, what a streak it was.
“The thing is we have a lot of respect for coach (Reginald) Huff and Gadsden City because of what they’ve done,” Van Meter said. “Think about that. They became a school nine years ago and they had not lost an area game. Whether we’re able to do it or not, and whether we’re able to do it at that level or not, that’s what we’d like to become. As a coach, that’s my goal for our program.”
• First win: Clay Central won its first basketball game in school history on Friday night and it didn’t come without a fitting, dramatic finish.
For the record, I’m going to continue to say, “for the first time in school history,” until Clay Central has done everything, even though the joke wasn’t really funny the first time I made it. This time, however, I can thank Randall Brown and his layup just before the buzzer for allowing me to say what has almost become a cliché.
Looking at it on the losing side, Saks’ losses are hard to swallow. With the Volunteers providing the second loss on the year, Saks first defeat came to Jacksonville, who hit a three at the buzzer, completing a 14-point turnaround.
• On the air: Weis Radio, a Cherokee County station, will have two area basketball games broadcasted this week on 100.5 FM and 990 AM.
With Cedar Bluff and Spring Garden broadcasted today, Jacksonville’s game on the road against Cherokee County will also be available for listeners on Friday.
Brandon Miller covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575 or follow him on Twitter @bmiller_star