PRESTRIDGE’S PICKS: Athletes represent area well

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 26, 2004

After the events that occurred throughout the sporting world this weekend, it makes you wonder why fans go to games to support their teams.

One would believe that they go to relax and to escape the realities of everyday life.

It was kind of hard for fans attending the Indiana Pacers/Detroit Pistons shootout Saturday to do that. Or should it be called a punch out.

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The National Basketball Association issued some of the harshest penalties in its history by banning nine players for more than 140 games on Sunday.

All this after Indiana's Ron Artest, who was suspended for the remainder of the season, which is 73 games, and two of his teammates pounded on fans in the stands during a melee that broke out at the end of the game. Pacer teammates Stephen Jackson was suspended for 30 games and Jermaine O'Neal for 25 for their parts in the fight.

The brawl started when Lowndes County native and Detroit inside man Ben Wallace shoved Artest after a foul.

Wallace was suspended for only six games because he didn't enter the stands when Artest attacked a fan after a beer was thrown at him.

Indiana's Anthony Johnson received a five game suspension, while Reggie Miller and Detroit's Chauncey Billups, Elden Campbell and Derrick Coleman were suspended for one game apiece for leaving the bench during the initial fight.

All the suspensions are without pay.

With all that in mind, it's sure to make everyone throughout the Crenshaw County area proud of the athletes that represent the various towns on the gridiron, the hardcourt and the diamond.

Friday night, the eighth-ranked Luverne Tigers were eliminated from the Alabama High School Athletic Association's Class 2A state playoffs after allowing Cottonwood to slip past them, 14-13.

Sure there were some disappointment expressed among the coaches and fans and some tears shed by the players, but the Tigers took the loss like men. They played their hearts out and that's all that anyone could ask for. No players got into arguments much less pushed, shoved or punched each other.

Luverne had a heck of a season and the players should keep their heads held high. Next season should be another exciting one.

Brantley is the only Crenshaw County team remaining in the playoffs following a win over Reeltown last week.

The third-ranked Bulldogs (12-0) will travel to Tuscaloosa Friday night to take on American Christian in the Class 1A quarterfinals after defeating Reeltown 27-7 last Friday night. The fourth-ranked Patriots (12-0) doubled up Autaugaville 28-14 last week.

These two teams met in the quarterfinals last season in a close contest. Brantley was eliminated from the postseason after suffering a one-point loss.

Brantley will have to play smart and not give American Christian anything. The Bulldogs' defense will have to

make the Patriots earn everything on offense.

Also, Brantley's defense will have to control the line of scrimmage and put pressure on the quarterback. The patriots have a potent arial assault that could be the difference in the game if it can't be controlled.

Offensively, the Bulldogs are going to have to rely on their quarterback in order to catch the Patriots off guard. American Christian is aware of Brantley's high-octane running game and will be ready for it.

Brantley's coaching staff gambled a few times during last week's win. Those gambles fortunately paid off and helped the Bulldogs to victory. They will have to continue to take risks this week in hopes of advancing to the semi-finals. They may have to resort to some trick plays to stay in the game.

Turnovers will be key as well as clock management.

Fans should expect another close one.

Prestridge's Pick: Brantley.

Adam Prestridge is editor of

The Luverne Journal. He can be reached at 334-335-3541 or by e-mail: adam.prestridge@luverne