Teams like Priceville make sports fun
Justin Schuver, Sports Editor
BIRMINGHAM – Imagine if you could, for a minute, the following scenario. The New York Yankees win the World Series every year, then the Dallas Cowboys win the Super Bowl every year, Duke wins the NCAA Tournament every year and USC wins the NCAA college football championship every year.
Sounds pretty boring, doesn't it?
It would be boring, and it's safe to say that sports would not be nearly as popular if the same teams won year after year and there was no change in the teams at the top.
Part of the allure of sports at the professional and college levels is that urge to root for the underdog, for the team that has beaten the odds to get to the top.
And that allure applies to high school sports, as well.
This year, that feisty underdog, that Cinderella, that David vs. Goliath – whatever phrase or word you want to use – was the Priceville Bulldogs.
That underdog role really started in the Bulldogs' sub-region game against Ider. Yes, Priceville was the host for that sub-region game, but there were still grumblings in various circles that Area 12 was really weak this season and that Ider played the kind of fast, up-tempo game that would expose Priceville's weaknesses.
Against No. 5 White Plains in the Jacksonville regional, once more Priceville was considered a gigantic underdog. And once more, the Bulldogs kept their season going.
Yes, against R.C. Hatch Priceville's coach turned back into a pumpkin, but that doesn't take anything away from the season these boys had.
It boggles the mind to consider that five years ago, there was no Priceville High School to even speak of, and now the Bulldogs are Northeast Regional champions and Final Four participants. Nobody can take that away from them.
It is the nature of championships to be the place where great runs often die. Everyone gets excited about the Bucknells and the Coppin States who pull off early-round upsets in the NCAA Tournament, but you never see those teams make it all the way to the Final Four.
In the same way, in Birmingham, Priceville ran into a buzzsaw, just as fellow unranked team Pickens County couldn't get past No. 4 Lanett in the other semifinal. There were two unranked teams and two ranked teams at Birmingham in Class 2A, and predictably, the cream rose to the top.
R.C. Hatch had the tradition – more championships than any school in the state – the talent, and the intensity to make Priceville look like it didn't belong at the Final Four, but that argument would be nonsense.
Priceville did belong there, and all they have to do to prove it is show off that nice Regional Champion trophy they won in Jacksonville that will sit in the school's trophy case for decades.
On Dec. 2, I had the opportunity to watch what I still consider one of the most exciting high school basketball games I've ever seen, when Priceville traveled to Brewer and stayed neck-and-neck with the Class 5A Patriots before losing on a late free throw.
That was probably the first time I found myself impressed by this group of Bulldogs, but even I was surprised when they went to Jacksonville and absolutely blazed through the competition there.
Four months and 20 wins later, this Priceville team has opened a lot of eyes and has shown the state that Bulldog basketball is back on the map.
And that's something to be proud of, even if the slipper didn't quite fit this time around.