I had been to my share of lopsided games and seen some teams that I thought needed to give up the sport entirely.
Since I’ve become a Walker Countian my viewpoint has changed. It turns out that I only thought I had seen bad basketball.
There were teams worse than I had imagined.
I noticed this in one of the first games I covered as sports editor.
Back then, the Oakman girls basketball team was ranked. I went to watch the Wildcats play Carbon Hill one night at Oakman High School.
I arrived at halftime of the girls game.
I walked in and looked at the scoreboard. I did a double-take.
The score was 34-0.
I couldn’t believe it.
I went to the scorers table. Surely something was wrong.
Maybe one side of the scoreboard didn’t work or perhaps it was stuck at zero.
I had never heard of a varsity team not scoring a single point in one half of basketball. Every team should accidentally score at least two points in 16 minutes of play.
In the end, the scoreboard was fully operational. Carbon Hill just hadn’t required its use.
Not a single shot had gone through the hoop.
That was my first experience with Carbon Hill girls basketball.
Carbon Hill’s win total that season matched the number of points scored in the first half against Oakman: 0.
To see what Carbon Hill’s girls program has become since then is remarkable.
Not only are the Bulldogs scoring points in the first half these days, they usually have much more than the opponent through four quarters of play.
Carbon Hill’s girls are used to winning — and winning a lot over the last three years. The Bulldogs took their third consecutive Walker County Basketball Tournament title this season and the team has a legit chance to earn the program’s first trip to the regional tournament later this month.
Success wasn’t easy or quick.
When current Carbon Hill girls coach Wade Tittle took over the program, winning two or three games in a season was an award-worthy accomplishment.
Carbon Hill won a total of seven games in his first two seasons.
Not bad considering Tittle inherited a team that had lost more than 70 straight games prior to the 2008-09 season.
In Tittle’s second year I remember showing up at a Winfield game at Carbon Hill. The Bulldogs were down huge. He questioned why I would even come the game. It was so bad that he preferred to not have it mentioned in the paper.
This year, Tittle not only led Carbon Hill to its first ever win over Winfield during his tenure, the Bulldogs swept the Pirates, winning by 20 and 14 points respectively.
That’s the girls basketball version of the Cubs getting to the World Series — it simply doesn’t happen.
Carbon Hill (23-6) started this season 0-3, but has won 23 of its last 26 games, including 13 out of 14 to close the regular season.
Now it’s on to the area tournament, which Carbon Hill will host for the first time since the Reagan administration.
Carbon Hill is just three wins away from making the regional tournament for the first time since the Alabama High School Athletic Association began using the format in 1994.
Unfortunately, the Bulldogs would play in the Central Regional Tournament in Montgomery instead of the Northwest Regional Tournament in Hanceville.
However, when you haven’t been to the regional tournament before you’d travel across several states to be a part of one.
Carbon Hill’s boys have been a state contender for the last two years. Success is nothing new for the boys.
On the other hand, the Carbon Hill girls had an uphill battle just to be considered mediocre. They have long since crossed that threshold.
Over the last five years the Bulldogs have gone from 3-21 to 23-6. Now they look to take that next step.
With what they’ve accomplished so far, I am a believer.
Johnathan Bentley is the Sports Editor at the Daily Mountain Eagle. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org