The Bulldogs are also missing seven seniors from last year’s Final Four team.
Carbon Hill is still the favorite entering Monday’s 2012 Walker County Basketball Tournament at Parrish High School.
Earning their second consecutive county crown won’t be easy for the Bulldogs. No. 2 seed Dora and No. 3 seed Parrish sit on the other side of the bracket and are looking to dethrone the champs.
“This year I think we know going in that we have to play. We’ve got to show up. If we do that, we’ve got a chance,” Carbon Hill boys coach Robert Epps said. “We’d like to win it just because we are playing in it. We’ve got to be able to perform in a tournament atmosphere. That’s what we are trying to get ready for — the area, sub-region and regional. This will give us a dress rehearsal.”
Last year, Carbon Hill entered the tournament undefeated and wasn’t challenged in any of its three games, winning by an average of 26.7 points per game and beating Dora by 15 points in the championship game.
This year Carbon Hill brings a 12-7 mark into the tournament. All of the Bulldogs’ losses are against quality opponents including: defending state champion Greensboro, Hale County, Dora and 6A Gardendale.
The Bulldogs’ biggest loss was by nine points to Greensboro.
“You look at our losses and we are right there in every game. That’s what it’s all about. We’ve played some tough competition. In the long run that will make us better,” Epps added.
The Bulldogs are led by senior guard Tylor Owens. Sophomore Gerald Smith, the team’s second-leading scorer is out one to two weeks with an ankle injury. He injured his ankle in a loss against Winfield on Tuesday.
Without Smith, Carbon Hill rebounded with a 21-point win at Fayette County on Thursday.
This year’s tournament was seeded by Walker County coaches at a meeting last week.
Carbon Hill’s boys are in Pool B with Curry and Cordova. Pool A includes Dora, Parrish and Oakman.
On the girls side, Carbon Hill is joined in Pool B by Oakman and Cordova. Pool A includes Dora, Curry and Parrish.
Like the boys, Carbon Hill’s girls ran through the bracket last season without a challenge. The Lady Bulldogs won their three games by an average of 30.3 points.
Carbon Hill (12-7) has already won two tournaments this season — the Curry Tip-off Tournament and the Fayette Lions Club Tournament.
“We have earned the right to be the top seed, but we will also have to earn everything we get if we want to repeat as champions,” Carbon Hill girls coach Wade Tittle said. “I think the schedule we have played so far — regular season and tournaments — will hopefully prepare us for anything thrown our way. Our players understand that we have to play hard, play smart and value every possession. We are looking forward to it.”
Carbon Hill is led by sophomore Caroline Dodd, who was the county tournament MVP last season.
Pool play varsity games are set for Monday, Tuesday and Friday with the consolation games and championship games on Saturday.
Four varsity games are on the docket Monday, though the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds don’t play until Tuesday.
Monday’s games include: No. 3 Curry vs. No. 6 Parrish girls at 3:15 p.m., No. 4 Curry vs. No. 5 Cordova boys at 4:30 p.m. The 5:45 p.m. game pits No. 4 Cordova vs. No. 5 Oakman in a girls game with the boys game between No. 3 Parrish and No. 6 Oakman closing out Day 1 with a 7 p.m. contest.
Both Carbon Hill and Dora play on Tuesday.
Tuesday games include: No. 6 Parrish vs. No. 2 Dora girls at 3:15 p.m., No. 6 Oakman vs. No. 2 Dora boys at 4:30 p.m., No. 1 Carbon Hill vs. No. 5 Oakman girls at 5:45 p.m. and No. 1 Carbon Hill vs. No. 5 Cordova boys at 7 p.m.