LaGrange High and W.D. Mohammed each won their first-round games on Thursday, setting up today’s semifinal matchup at 7:30 p.m.
The Grangers improved to 9-0 with a 76-58 victory over the Valley Rams, while the W.D. Mohammed Caliphs crunched Russell County 79-49 to move to 11-0.
LaGrange and W.D. Mohammed will meet today with a berth in Saturday’s championship game on the line.
In today’s other winner’s bracket game, Opelika will face Hillgrove at 6 p.m.
In the loser‘s bracket games today, Rockdale County will play Northgate at 3 p.m., and Russell County will face Valley at 4:30 p.m.
The tournament continues Saturday with the place games, leading up to the championship game at 7:30 p.m.
LaGrange head coach Mike Pauley had a chance to scout W.D. Mohammed on Thursday, and he was impressed.
“They’re a very good team. They have six players that play really well together,” Pauley said. “They’re long, and they compete well. They’re very fundamental. And they’re pretty stingy on rebounds.”
In Thursday’s game, W.D. Mohammed had six players who scored eight or more points, including four players in double figures.
“I really like how they move the ball to each other,“ Pauley said. “They’re basically unselfish.”
The Caliphs have been a terrific all-around team this season.
They’re not a particularly high-scoring team, averaging just 61 points per game, but they’re only allowing 41 points a game.
LaGrange, meanwhile, is scoring 64 points per game and giving up 51 points.
The Grangers are trying to win their own tournament for the second straight year, and for the third time overall.
Before winning it all last year, the Grangers hadn’t won the tournament since 2000.
“We told our guys, over the last 15 years, we’ve only won it twice,” Pauley said. “I used that today. Look, if we don’t win (today), we can’t be in the finals.”
In today’s other winner’s bracket game, Hillgrove will look to maintain its torrid early-season pace when it faces Opelika.
Hillgrove, which already has one tournament title under its belt earlier this season, improved to 10-1 with its win over Northgate.
Opelika, meanwhile, is on a pretty good run after finishing third in a tournament at Auburn High and beating a Smiths Station team that had been 10-1.
All games at LaGrange High
Opelika 63, Rockdale County 58
Hillgrove 81, Northgate 34
W.D. Mohammed 79, Russell County 49
LaGrange 76, Valley 58
3 p.m. - Rockdale vs. Northgate
4:30 p.m. - Russell County vs. Valley loser
6 p.m. - Opelika vs. Hillgrove
7:30 p.m. - W.D. Mohammed vs. LaGrange
3 p.m. - seventh-place game
4:30 p.m. - fifth-place game
6 p.m. - third-place game
7:30 p.m. - championship game