A large crowd is expected at Austin High for the Class 6A, Area 16 varsity boys tournament, which begins tonight at 6 p.m.
The meeting between Austin and Decatur usually is played at Carlton Kelley Gymnasium, a 3,000-seat arena on the campus of Calhoun Community College. Gates open at 5 p.m. and will close if Austin’s 1,400-seat gymnasium reaches maximum capacity.
Austin-Decatur games usually fill most of the seats at Calhoun.
When Austin hosted Tanner in January, school officials had to close the gates before tipoff of the varsity boys game because of an overflow capacity crowd. Fans lined the gym walls and overflowed into the lobby. At the gym entrances, fans were lined eight and nine deep.
“Hopefully we will be able to get everybody in,” Austin principal Dr. Don Snow said, explaining that the school chose to open with the Austin-Decatur game in hopes of accommodating fans who arrive for the game between Florence and James Clemens, which is scheduled for 7:30.
Austin and Decatur split the regular season meetings, as the Black Bears (17-7) won in December 65-45 before the Red Raiders (12-14) bounced back to top Austin 58-44 in January.
“We have to play better in this match up,” Austin coach Demond Garth said. “Our intensity has to be better, because Decatur played harder in the second meeting. We have to really step our game up if we want to be in the area finals on Monday.”
Though Decatur lost to Athens in its last regular season game, Decatur coach Jamie Lee said he feels like the Red Raiders are playing well.
“I feel like our guys are playing with a lot of confidence,” he said. “It should be a lot of fun for both teams.”
Meredith Qualls can be reached at 256-340-2395 or email@example.com.
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