Piedmont was the surprise team of the Calhoun County baseball tournament. Seeded No. 6, the Bulldogs defeated No. 11 Jacksonville Christian, No. 3 White Plains and No. 2 Jacksonville before falling to No. 1 Oxford in the tournament’s championship game.

Four days after it happened, Spring Garden basketball coach Ricky Austin was still trying to understand how the Panthers had come out on the short end of a 44-43 score in their Class 1A girls state championship game Thursday.

The Spring Garden girls have another date with basketball destiny. The Panthers meet R.A. Hubbard of Courtland on Thursday at 4 p.m. in the AHSAA Class 1A state championship game. Spring Garden advanced with a 48-38 win over J.F. Shields on Monday after leading 33-15 at halftime.

JACKSONVILLE — Anybody who’s passed through Spring Garden and interacted with the high school’s girls basketball team knows it’s anything but “hateful” … except when the Panthers play defense.

Piedmont started strong and finished the same way as the Bulldogs defeated Glencoe 50-42 in the championship game of the Class 3A, Area 10 boys basketball tournament at Glencoe on Saturday. In 11 seasons under head coach Tommy Lewis, the Bulldogs (15-14) have won eight area tournament championships – 2017, 2016, 2015, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008.

When Steve Smith arrived at Piedmont as head football coach and athletic director 11 years ago he created a new tradition, a public signing ceremony recognizing Piedmont athletes in any sport who were continuing their playing careers past high school. Taylor Hayes, Krae Keener and Mason Langley added to that tradition on Wednesday of last week, national signing day.

Piedmont’s junior high boys basketball team capped an outstanding season by winning the Calhoun County Class 1A-3A tournament at Ohatchee last week. The junior Bulldogs defeated Weaver 69-39 in Friday’s championship game.

The band played, spectators cheered and the members of Piedmont’s 2016 Class 3A state championship football team walked single file to their seats on the gym floor. Just like all Piedmont home football games, Thursday’s victory celebration started with the Star Spangled Banner and ended with the Piedmont alma mater.  

On his official recruiting visit to Jacksonville State last weekend, Piedmont offensive tackle Mason Langley told the JSU coaches he had decided to become a Gamecock – and did it in a unique way. Saturday, all the recruits went to the field house where they got to try on jerseys and have photos made.

At last week’s seeding meeting for the 66th annual Calhoun County basketball tournament, the Piedmont boys were seeded No. 9 by the county coaches. The Bulldogs’ first game in the tournament will be Saturday at 7:30 p.m. against No. 8 seed Wellborn. Saturday’s winner faces No. 1 seed Sacred Heart on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. Jacksonville State’s Pete Mathews Coliseum is again the venue for all tournament games.    

Easton Kirk is one of many Piedmont three-sport athletes. He’s in the middle of basketball season now but took a few days right after Christmas to travel with his family to Miami for the 11th annual Power Showcase. Now he’s the Power Showcase world champion home run hitter among high school seniors.

Nine players from the Piedmont Journal’s coverage area, seven from Piedmont and two from Spring Garden, were named to the all-state football teams released Sunday by the Alabama Sports Writers Association. In Class 3A, Piedmont senior Taylor Hayes repeated as first-team quarterback. It was his fourth consecutive selection as a first-team all-state player. As a freshman and again as a sophomore, Hayes was first-team at linebacker.

The Piedmont girls started a new winning streak Monday with a 48-36 victory over Collinsville in the consolation bracket of the Cherokee Invitational tournament at Gaylesville.

Piedmont was represented along the sideline and on the field Saturday at Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl when the Alabama all-stars defeated the Mississippi all-stars 25-14 in the 30th Alabama-Mississippi High School Football All-Star Game.  

Spring Garden’s girls overcame a late rally by visiting Anniston Monday and defeated the Bulldogs 45-40. Anniston managed to force a 40-40 tie with about 90 seconds to play. A.J. Broome and Payton McGinnis each hit free throws late to provide the winning points.

Basketball season began for Spring Garden on Nov. 22 when the Panthers hosted Haralson County (Ga.). Spring Garden’s boys almost doubled the score on their guests with a 60-33 victory. It was a cake walk all the way as Spring Garden led 31-15 at halftime and 51-26 when the third quarter came to a close.

Now there are four, four teams remaining with a chance to win this season’s AHSAA Class 3A state football championship. Piedmont earned its way into that foursome with a dominating 52-28 win over visiting Weaver in a quarterfinal round game at the Field of Champions last Friday night. It marked the second time this season the Bulldogs had defeated Region 5 foe and intra-county rival Weaver.  

Piedmont’s performance on the field came close to matching its potential Friday in the Bulldogs’ 38-21 win over visiting Colbert County. That was good news for Piedmont fans but bad news for the Indians, who trailed 31-0 when the third quarter of the Class 3A second-round playoff game ended.

Spring Garden will attempt to start a new winning streak Friday night when the Panthers host Class 3A Pleasant Valley. The old streak, which reached eight games, ended last Friday at Cedar Bluff as Spring Garden ended up on the short end of a 29-24 score in the game between the two best teams in Class 1A, Region 6.