The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

February 21, 2014

COLUMN: Hard part still ahead for Athens

By Jonathan Deal

ATHENS — Now that the dust has settled from Athens’ emotional victory over three-time defending champion Wenonah, the Golden Eagles must do it all over again.

The Potts brothers have come down from high above the rim and must gather themselves and their teammates to play a regional final, less than 48 hours removed from the program’s biggest win in nearly a decade.

Wednesday’s win over No. 2 Wenonah was extremely impressive. Beating Parker, today, would top it.

Sure, the Thundering Herd aren’t three-time defending champs. They didn’t just set a state record by scoring 154 points in a game, but Parker is good.

Just ask Wenonah.

A month ago, they too, took down the Dragons, beating them by 17 points. Parker will be the best defensive team Athens has played all season, but they can be beat.

Eight other teams have done it this season. You can bet Athens players believe they will, too.

After all, not many outside the Athens community thought they would win Wednesday, something the team continues to use as motivation on their run through the 5A bracket.

When asked after Wednesday’s big win if they had a sense of accomplishment after beating the three-time defending champs, Athens head coach Stace Tedford was quick in his reply.

“Not really, this is what we came here to do,” he said. “I don’t think they’ve got a lot of respect around the state (south of Huntsville) and I think they earned that today.”

If the 24-game winning streak wasn’t enough, Athens basketball certainly has the state’s attention now.

No matter what happens in today’s Northwest Region final, Athens should be proud of what they’ve accomplished this season.

The Golden Eagles slew the dragon. Now they must go out and do it again.