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Sacred Heart's Khalil Watkins goes in for an easy basket past Cornerstone's Eriq Williams during a 1A boys semifinal game of the AHSAA State Finals basketball tournament Monday between Scared Heart and Cornerstone at Legacy Arena at the BJCC in Birmingham. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)

Local high school basketball fans have double the reason to head west for today's state finals in Birmingham.

Two perennial local and state powers are playing for Class 1A state championships: Spring Garden's girls face Phillips at 4 p.m., and Sacred Heart's boys play Georgiana at 5:45 p.m.

Here are five fast facts for fans to know:

1. How to go

Legacy Arena at the BJCC in downtown Birmingham is hosting the state tournament, and daily tickets are $11. That allows you through the doors for all the hoops action all day.

Public parking is available around the arena, but tournament organizers warn that because of construction on I-59 and around the BJCC, traffic will be heavy, and parking will be at a premium. Plan to arrive more than an hour before your team's scheduled tip-off time.

2. Record chase

Sacred Heart has won three straight 1A state championships, and that's one away from a boys record for all classifications. Senior star Diante Wood, who has signed with Alabama, leads this year's Cardinals and was a starter on all three of the state title teams.

Francis Marion won 2A boys championships in 1988, 1989 and 1990 before taking a 3A title in 1991. Lauderdale County holds the girls record with five straight 3A crowns during 2012-16.

3. Promise keepers

Spring Garden lost last year's 1A girls title game to R.A. Hubbard, which benefited from a controversial foul call in the last second. After the heartbreaking defeat, the Panthers promised afterward they would return.

They kept that pledge, although R.A. Hubbard didn't make it back for a rematch, losing in the regional semifinals.

4. Familiar foe

This marks the third straight year Sacred Heart has run into Georgiana in the Class 1A state tournament. The Cardinals won a 2016 meeting in the state finals 95-75. Last year, they faced off in the semifinals, with the Cardinals winning 82-55.

5. Constant presence

Spring Garden have won five state titles, including four under current head coach Ricky Austin. His teams won in 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2016, and the Panthers won in 1987 under then-coach David Bedwell.

This marks Spring Garden's fourth straight trip to the finals, having finished runner-up in 2015 and 2017. This is the program's 13th Final Four appearance.

Sports Editor Mark Edwards: 256-235-3570. On Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.

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