Sparse crowd watched area final

By Staff
Charles Prince, Sports Editor
The heyday of Hartselle girls' basketball was without doubt the 1980s, when coach Jerry Reeves led the Lady Tigers to back-to-back state titles. The Pettey Center was packed for each game back then.
Oh, how the times have changed. Last Saturday night the Lady Tigers were playing for the 5A, Area 16 title. However, instead of a packed house full of cheering fans, the gym wasn't even half full.
During the second period of play, someone was heard to say, "Have you ever seen this place so empty?" The consensus was no one had, and everyone who discussed it seemed to be puzzled by the turnout. Maybe they shouldn't have been.
In the two basketball seasons I've been at the Enquirer, I haven't received any phone calls about high school hoops scores or when the next games are scheduled.
The number of phone calls a sport solicits is a good barometer of its popularity in our area.
For example, during the spring I receive many calls each week about the baseball and softball teams at Hartselle High.
Callers want to know the score of the previous game, when the next home game is scheduled and what is the starting time.
The popularity of games on the diamond can be seen by the attendance at last year's third-round state baseball playoff series between Buckhorn and Hartselle.
Despite the drive to New Market taking more than an hour and a half, there were many more Tiger supporters in the stands than the home team had on hand.
More folks from Hartselle traveled to Buckhorn for the baseball playoff series than showed up for the area final Saturday night.
During football season, I receive calls asking how many yards a certain player ended up with in the previous week's game, or what the record is of Hartselle's upcoming opponent.
Of course, football is the highest attended of all high school sports.
During the wrestling season, I get calls about the Tiger's team record, or people inquire about the score of the last match.
If you attended the state wrestling championships in Pelham two weeks ago, you were part of a bigger crowd of Hartselle faithful than the one the area championship game drew Saturday night.
Of all the sports to follow in Morgan County, basketball doesn't appear to have the support of several others.
Saturday night, the Lady Tigers won the area title over Russellville, 59-51.
The win means Hartselle will host a state sub-regional playoff game. Right now the Lady Tigers are one of only 32 teams left in Class 5A with a shot at the state title. The victory Saturday night was the team's brightest shining moment of this season.
Unfortunately, very few people were on hand to witness it.

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