Alabama 2012-2013

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Alabama 2012-2013

Postby quizbowllee » Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:43 pm

I miss having a yearlong discussion thread for Alabama. Where did everyone go?

Anyway, I don't have too many thoughts at this point. I will be starting (yet another) brand new team and have yet to lay eyes upon a single member of my team. It will be probably be some time in September before I have a good idea of what I'll be working with at West Point.

Other than that, I expect that Hoover and Gadsden City will continue to do extremely well. The other powerhouse team in the state, John Paul II Catholic, lost their one-man team when Matthew Riggle graduated. I expect they will still be decent, but nowhere near where they were.

Anyone else have any further insights?
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby The Ununtiable Twine » Thu Jul 19, 2012 11:39 pm

quizbowllee wrote:Where did everyone go?


Do you have any idea where any of the recent grads are going to college?

In addition, I have been pushing for a second Fall tournament at UA sometime on a date when we don't have a home football game/college event to attend/conflicts with other local tournaments, preferably on a housewrite or an HSAPQ set. I will continue to push this agenda. We may put in a bid to host NAQT State sometime in the not-so-distant future, as well.
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby MahoningQuizBowler » Fri Aug 10, 2012 10:27 pm

On the NHBB front, I've not heard back from Claudette - our contact at Arab HS - but once I do, I'll post the date of the tournament.
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby Joshua Rutsky » Sat Aug 18, 2012 4:45 pm

I am pleased to announce that this year Alabama will use NAQT as the question provider for the ASCA state tournament. This means that we will not be having a separate ASCA and NAQT championship this year, and I think it represents a very big move in the state of Alabama toward national level quizbowl and development of a quality statewide program. It has been many years in the making.
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby David Riley » Sat Aug 18, 2012 10:14 pm

Indeed! Congrats and thanks to all of you who made this possible!
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby The Ununtiable Twine » Sun Aug 19, 2012 8:18 pm

Joshua Rutsky wrote:I am pleased to announce that this year Alabama will use NAQT as the question provider for the ASCA state tournament. This means that we will not be having a separate ASCA and NAQT championship this year, and I think it represents a very big move in the state of Alabama toward national level quizbowl and development of a quality statewide program. It has been many years in the making.


We put in a bid to host NAQT State just this Friday. If the tournaments are not separate, does this change the bidding procedure for NAQT State in any way (such as ASCA selecting a host) or will the host be determined solely by NAQT from the organizations that bid to host?
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby Joshua Rutsky » Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:45 am

My understanding is that the ASCA and NAQT titles will not be separate this year, and thus ASCA will run the HS tourney finals at the normal Jeff State location. If you would be interested in running a regional or district site, we would certainly love to have you do so; we are always in need of places to hold the event and good staff.

Thanks!
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby MahoningQuizBowler » Thu Sep 06, 2012 8:43 pm

Last I heard from Claudette, she was presenting four dates to the board to choose from...

Nov 3
Dec 15
Jan 5
Feb 16

The next board meeting is September 20.
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby Joshua Rutsky » Sun Sep 16, 2012 10:43 am

Judging from yesterday's WRK top pool, Indian Springs, Hoover, Holy Spirit, and Gadsden City were the four teams to beat. Buckhorn and Russellville also looked solid. Gadsden was playing without several top players, so I can't judge them accurately yet, but Wayne clearly has them going in the right direction. West Point was quite respectable for a team playing its first tournament (it won a couple of JV trophies), so give them some props too, not that you'd expect less from Lee. LAMP is completely rebuilding, but once they figure their players out, they will improve quickly.

Because of the format, I didn't get to see a number of teams, so we have to wait for stat reports to know where most of the schools there fell. St. Andrews out of Mississippi was weaker than last year, when they blew everyone out, but good enough to make 2nd place in this tourney (though in a four-way tie decided by PPB).
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby The Ununtiable Twine » Mon Sep 17, 2012 3:24 am

Last edited by The Ununtiable Twine on Sun Oct 07, 2012 12:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby MahoningQuizBowler » Fri Oct 05, 2012 2:52 pm

NHBB Alabama at Arab HS will run on Saturday, January 19.
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby MahoningQuizBowler » Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:28 am

NHBB Alabama needs a tournament director. If you'd like to make a few bucks, please contact me either by PM or email me (greg@historybowl.com).
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby jmannor2 » Sat Jan 19, 2013 3:53 pm

So, anything exciting happening with Alabama high schools?
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby quizbowllee » Fri Feb 08, 2013 9:10 pm

From the district at Wallace State Today:

The following teams will move on to Regionals:

Pool A:
West Point (5-0)
Arab (4-1)
Elkmont (3-2)

Pool B:
Athens (5-0)
Cullman (4-1)
Hartselle (3-2)
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby Somerled » Sat Feb 09, 2013 11:42 am

I am trying to find out the results from the district at UAH and will post when I hear.

From what I saw, Sparkman, Huntsville, and Randolph were doing well.
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby quizbowllee » Sat Feb 09, 2013 12:29 pm

Anyone else remember back in the day, when the Alabama thread on this site was a multi-page, year-long fiasco every year? I miss those days.
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby Dr. Loki Skylizard, Thoracic Surgeon » Sat Feb 09, 2013 12:36 pm

I'm not sure Batman jokes count.
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby Joshua Rutsky » Sat Feb 09, 2013 4:35 pm

Results from Jeff State site:

Pool A: ASFA (4-0), Oak Mtn. (3-1)
Pool B: Spain Park (4-0), Indian Springs (3-1)
Pool C: Hoover (4-0), Evangel Christian (3-1)

Notable victims of a pool of death draw: Altamont, Vestavia
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby Joshua Rutsky » Sat Feb 09, 2013 4:57 pm

Also, I think the main reason this thread has been so dead this year is that it is so entirely unclear what is going on in the state with the best teams this year. I don't think I'm stepping out of line in saying that Hoover was the absolute favorite to win state this year, considering that we are returning the entirety of last year's NAQT state championship team, and that the other big gun, PJP II Catholic, lost the remarkable Mr. Riggle. However, early results haven't born that out at all. Yes, we are still very good, but ASFA absolutely nuked us in a playoff match at LAMP -- we didn't even get a buzz in until question 12 -- and while any team can have one good round, I've played ASFA enough to know that they are perfectly capable of having a "nuke" round like that at any time. Gadsden City has never actually played in a tournament this year that I've attended with their entire A squad, and they have gotten VERY good. Wayne Davenport has gotten a class for his program, and is fielding five teams at some events, so he's really developed his system and is building a pipeline to stay good once they get there. Buckhorn has at least one really strong player -- a senior girl who is outstanding in science and good in lit -- and will play people well.

Altamont has been around every tournament this year that they've attended, and they have a lot of confidence. They could have been a legit threat at State if they hadn't gotten bounced in the pool of death this past Friday. Spain Park has a decent team with a superstar player, and they can hang with anyone--witness their defeats of both Altamont and Indian Springs yesterday. That would NEVER have happened two years ago. Indian Springs, on the other hand, once a dominant force in this state, has faded--I think I've seen them twice all year, and they have been weaker than usual for the last couple of seasons. Even so, they are good enough to advance and beat 80% of teams without blinking.

Randolph has beaten us twice this year, although neither time was with our full squad. They aren't deep on knowledge (bonus average was around 10), but they are fast on the buzzer, and can lock you out of a match. Grissom and Huntsville always bring teams to state that can put up the points. We never see them until state. Who knows what they have? They're good. Lee has West Point respectable in a single year -- how they managed a 5-0 at district is amazing to me, but my Varsity A tells me they are legit up-and-comers. Their JV was good enough to give my very strong JV a challenge at the JV regional, and that bodes ill for the rest of us over coming years.

Then you've got all the other perennial squads that come in and make waves: Covenant Christian, JP II Catholic, Vestavia, Oak Mountain, LAMP. They can be trouble any year.

Get past all of that, and you get to the real question:

What do we have to do in the state of Alabama to catch up to the rest of the nation competitively?

I am most frustrated by this, not state teams. I love that our state as a whole is getting more competitive, and I think moving us to NAQT questions this year did the state a real service. This year marks the first time ever that every single NAQT set will be in use in events WITHIN ALABAMA, and we also had a mirror of the SCOP novice here. UAB is looking at hosting an event in a month or two using an HSAPQ set. There were more middle school tourneys than ever before in state. All of these things point to truths that Lee, Matt Dennis, and I have been arguing for years--that using better questions doesn't make the state less competitive or participatory, but instead improves the overall experience, leading to more play and more participation. That said, we still come up against the same issue when we go OUT of state--we get clobbered by some of the southeast's strongest teams. Hoover has never beaten Dorman A or Dorman B head-to-head, has never beaten Chattahootchee, and has never taken out Ezell-Harding. We have wins over Dunbar in the past, and we have beaten some good programs in Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Florida, but when it comes to cracking into the big leagues, we still aren't there on a consistent basis, and neither is anyone else in our state. Is there more we can do to improve as a state? What can ASCA do to help? I'm looking for any suggestions and ready to try to make the changes that would make them effective.
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby Somerled » Sat Feb 09, 2013 6:01 pm

I was really pleased to see that ASCA had started using NAQT questions. Using good questions should help with improving player quality in the state since it gives the student more information and forces the student to think more. Having questions where you know the answer is "Scott Joplin" after the question says "This Ragtime composer" and nothing else doesn't make the student learn anything useful.

I think switching to better questions is the best thing that ASCA could do to improve team performance as it should encourage the teams to start practicing on better questions thus learning more and losing the "buzzer beater" mentality. Sometimes, it could be difficult to do both NAQT and old ASCA formats and the lack of depth of the old ASCA style questions contributed to a lack of depth of knowledge that made it difficult when facing better, out-of-state teams.

The other key is encouraging passion and love of learning. I think the reason that Lee has done well no matter where he has coached is that he is one of the most passionate coaches in the state about quiz bowl. The problem is that that is not something that ASCA can influence, it has to be done at the team level. Plus, the number of activities in which students can participate and the mentality that doing more activities rather than doing well in a few will improve a student's chances at college admission and scholarships tend to discourage full commitment by some students.
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby quizbowllee » Sat Feb 09, 2013 7:00 pm

I appreciate that, Matthew.

Honestly, you could have knocked me over with a feather yesterday. I was hoping to go 3-2 and barely sneak into Regionals. Once we drew Austin and Arab in our pool, that was really the best I could hope for. We played Austin in Round One and were tied going into the last tossup. We won that one. Then, we played Arab, went down 110-20 in the first few questions, and started fighting back. Going into the last tossup, we were down by 25. I called a "time-out" (I'm SO glad ASCA added this) and let the team know that the only way to win was to get the last tossup and 20 on the bonus - which they did. After that, we pretty much rolled over the rest of the pool. Elkmont, though, came out of NOWHERE. They beat Austin and barely lost to Arab.

Hopefully I'll get to stick around West Point for a while (they're already talking about possible lay-offs, though). The real key right now is that I have an INCREDIBLY passionate JV team. They aren't great yet, but they work so hard. They are behind the varsity team, pushing them at every practice. That motivates the varsity to perform. They don't want to be outdone by the freshmen.

Right now, we don't have a class. We practice after school three days a week. If I get to stay at West Point and get a class (which is possible), then I think we've got a good shot in the next couple of years of making a real run of things. Right now, I'd just like to get to State and maybe place in the Small School Division at HSNCT.
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby Golden Tiger 86 » Tue Feb 12, 2013 12:44 pm

quizbowllee wrote:From the district at Wallace State Today:

The following teams will move on to Regionals:

Pool A:
West Point (5-0)
Arab (4-1)
Elkmont (3-2)

Pool B:
Athens (5-0)
Cullman (4-1)
Hartselle (3-2)


Add the following, and it looks like we have one regional set...

Brooks (4-0)
Russellville (3-1)
Muscle Shoals (3-1)
East Lawrence (2-2)
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby quizbowllee » Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:03 pm

Is ASCA still going to have 24 teams at State like last year, or are they going back to only 16?
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby Joshua Rutsky » Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:21 am

My current understanding is that there will be 24 teams. I don't know if that means 4 from each region and then 8 wildcards, or five from each region and 4 wildcards--that is still under discussion.
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby The Ununtiable Twine » Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:42 am

Joshua Rutsky wrote:What do we have to do in the state of Alabama to catch up to the rest of the nation competitively?

Get your guys to read lots of questions at and above the difficulty level you want to be great at - don't be afraid to play a college packet every now and then in practice. Also, the more productive time you put into the game, the more you will get out of it. I recently put in 100+ packets worth of work into the game (by this I mean I read packets, wrote down important clues and things I wanted to look up, and reread the questions carefully, trying to make sure I at least understood the question topic a bit more conceptually than I did before I read the question, and wrote some questions). You may have a strong natural base in certain subjects but it is so easy to gloss over details that will come up at tougher competitions, so careful reading of questions and looking things up is a great way to improve. Writing things down with a pen also helps as lots of people tend to remember what they have written down more than what they have read. Never, ever throw away your notes, and always keep more notes! Keep notes in practice. Especially have them write down those things that you know come up. Also, players do have a tendency to ignore certain things that they are not necessarily interested in. At least have them know what those things are and a few minor details about it. If things come up often, they're probably worth looking up at least once or twice. If no one on your team likes a particular subject, they need to realize that at least one person on the team has to pay attention to it or no one is going to get the points. It's always helpful for your team to know what most answerlines are, along with one or two common clues, even if no one on the team particularly cares for the subject.

I may even suggest to have them read some college level regular difficulty. This may seem like a chore for your players at first, however a lot of middle clues from regular college events are used early on in high school questions. I remember my first time reading college regular difficulty - it was difficult for me to read at first, and really for the first 25 or so packets, however the more work I did, the more I realized that these questions were not in fact hard, but instead they were a tool to expand my knowledge of the canon. After I did this, all of the easier difficulty levels became much easier. In particular, I find that college regular difficulty bonuses contain important answerlines that are very easy to look up, and those answerlines often appear as clues with decent placement in high school sets.

Even better is writing questions - players may have a lot of natural knowledge in certain areas, but when they start writing questions, they start paying more attention to clue placements / frequencies than they ever did before. Your players don't even have to write a ridiculous amount of questions (although the more they write, the better they will become) - but if they write a decent amount in a particular subject then they will become much better at that subject. Have them compare their questions to previous questions that have been written using the quizbowl DB or a similar tool, that way they learn which things come up more often in questions on particular subjects.

I will suggest that some teams attempt to attend our mirror of MUT on 3/16. The field is open to undergraduates and high school teams. Attending events held on these sets specifically designed for the purpose of helping younger teams improve can be incredibly beneficial in the long run.

The more a player loves the game and wants to improve (and is willing to put the time in to do it), the better he or she will become. The spread of NAQT and other good quizbowl sets around Alabama is a great thing for the game.
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby Somerled » Sun Feb 17, 2013 11:02 pm

From UAH:
Brindlee Mountain
Grissom
Huntsville High
Randolph
Sparkman
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby quizbowllee » Sat Mar 02, 2013 5:04 pm

Moving on to State from Regionals at Hartselle:

Athens
West Point
Elkmont
Arab
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby Joshua Rutsky » Sat Mar 02, 2013 11:50 pm

From LAMP:

St. Paul's
Enterprise
LAMP
UMS-Wright

From Tuscaloosa:

Hoover
Spain Park
ASFA
Holy Spirit
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby TITANROTC » Sun Mar 03, 2013 4:07 pm

From Gadsden

Randolph
Huntsville

Grissom
Brindlee Mtn

I hope we (Gadsden) get in as a wildcard we averaged 413.

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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby Joshua Rutsky » Sun Mar 03, 2013 5:19 pm

Can't say for certain, because I haven't seen anything but LAMP scores, but I would bet that over 400 ppg is a lock for a wild card, given that there are eight. The four teams that qualified out of LAMP all averaged between 300 and 400 ppg; none of the remaining squads broke 300.
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby quizbowllee » Sun Mar 03, 2013 5:30 pm

No one at Hartselle averaged that much. Athens was 4-0 and only broke 400 once.
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby Joshua Rutsky » Tue Mar 05, 2013 12:30 am

So if you care enough to be here, you deserve a slightly early announcement of the Wildcard teams:


Covenant Christian
Gadsden City
Indian Springs
Northridge
Oak Mountain
Pell City
Sand Rock
Sparkman

Looks like it will be a good field.
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby quizbowllee » Tue Mar 05, 2013 10:05 am

Is there any particular reason that ASCA doesn't post stats from District and Regionals? It would be interesting to see how everything played out and to compare teams going into State.
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby Joshua Rutsky » Tue Mar 05, 2013 10:16 am

That's something that would have to be discussed at the board level. There are a couple of reasons we haven't posted this in the past, but it is something we could look at.
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby quizbowllee » Tue Mar 05, 2013 10:19 am

Also - WOW! Those wildcard teams are virtually all from the same region.
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby An Intergalactic Puzzlepalooza » Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:23 am

quizbowllee wrote:Also - WOW! Those wildcard teams are virtually all from the same region.


Has there been any discussion of redistricting? I feel like as is all of the perennial state powers, save for Russellville, Arab, and LAMP, all of whom are in relative down years, are in the same 2 regions and that leads to teams that are the approximate average for the tournament or better being eliminated at district.

I feel like a pool with Indian Springs, Oak Mountain, Spain Park, and ASFA should not happen at the state level, much less the Regional level. I genuinely expect ASFA and Spain Park to only lose to each other at state, and Springs and Oak Mountain are both fairly solid teams too. Since playing stronger opponents deflates your PPG, those two schools had every reason to think they might get left out.

And then there's the district pool of Spain Park, Indian Springs, Altamont, and Vestavia, which contains 2 teams mentioned earlier, a very strong Altamont team, and the Vestavia team comprised of juniors who won Middle School state 3 years ago.

Basically I feel like the Huntsville District and the Birmingham District probably should be broken up to avoid those death pools. Is there any plans to do something like that?
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby quizbowllee » Thu Mar 07, 2013 10:05 am

They actually just recently did some redistricting.

At least, with the inclusion of wildcard teams, they have fixed much of the problem. I coached for eight years in the "Huntsville" district/region. I know too well how stacked it is. I always told my teams that it was easier to win our pool at State than to win our pool at Regionals. This was consistently true.

While the wildcard teams don't help at the district level, at least this helps many deserving teams move beyond Regionals.

For the most part, I am very pleased with the changes that ASCA has made in the past 2-3 years. We are definitely moving in the right direction.
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby Joshua Rutsky » Thu Mar 07, 2013 5:50 pm

The redistricting issue is one we have looked at pretty intently over the last couple of years, Joseph. Believe me, as Hoover's coach, I'm well aware of the death trap potential at District, and the chance that a bad pool draw, like the one we had this year, can leave a team that is very worthy of moving on and would have almost certainly made the state tourney (Altamont, in this case) out in the cold.

The main issue with redistricting is that our state's teams are just not geographically diverse. The South, for example, has a massive area with relatively sparse representation and much more spacing between teams, while the North has very large clusters of teams around Huntsville, and the Central region has a similar large cluster around Birmingham. Thus, when we draw the districts, we end up with something that looks like a line at the Montgomery level that divides the state, which marks off one district, and then we have a central area, a Northeast, and a North Central/West. Doing that ROUGHLY puts the same number of active teams in each segment of the map, which is really important if we want to make sure that there is some geographic diversity in the meets.

Additionally troublesome is the fact that the disparity between "power" teams and regular teams is much more pronounced outside of the two major city centers of Huntsville and Birmingham than it is within those areas. What I mean by that is that the dropoff from Arab or Russellville to smaller teams in their grouping is generally much larger than it is from, say, Spain Park to Pelham or Oak Mountain. The ability of the teams in the Bham/Huntsville group to move up in the pack--as Oak Mountain has done in the past few years, for example, or Spain Park, while Indian Springs has faded--is significantly higher. This is partly a function of coaches being static and largely unpaid in the smaller communities, where they really have no motivation to continue as sponsor if doing so takes up more of their time. The kids in smaller schools are also generally involved in more activities at a leadership level (fewer kids=smaller potential pool to draw on), and so they have more obligations that limit their SB time, while they also have less funding to cope with.

That's not to say the situation can't be overcome--Lee certainly did that at Brindlee Mountain, creating a team that was in the top three in Alabama for at least four years, maybe more, in a location where he had no business being able to pull that off. He had some remarkable talent to work with, but more importantly, he WANTED to do it, and so he put in long hours and weekends galore to make it happen, and the kids wanted it too. Then the success began, and the team got some momentum, and it snowballed nicely. Still, that sort of success story is too rare in our state, and we are working on ways to overcome that obstacle with financial assistance and more opportunities to play for reduced or no cost.

The seeding and wildcard program we use at this point in ASCA is also meant to address this issue, and as Lee said, it at least makes sure that the teams that are deserving get an opportunity to play at state, even if they don't make it out of their region because of difficulty of pool. Having 8 spots for state wildcards also means that we can guarantee a spot for at least four teams from each region at the state final, and that those teams will have needed to play at least a few other teams they will see again at state to get to that point.

We are open to suggestions about how to deal with the problems of districts and regionals. We are limited, however, by the mandate we have to serve the state scholars bowl community, many of whom will, for example, refuse to travel more than an hour to compete. Multiple teams backed out of regionals at the last minute this year. That's very frustrating, both for the organizers who have to reset everything, and for teams that would have gotten a chance to come if they had been notified in time that the team ahead of them had pulled out. Add to that the irritation of dealing with the need to cancel districts and regionals at the slightest hint of bad weather, and you get a mess that is very, very hard to clean up.

I have looked into the possibility of eliminating districts altogether at the Varsity level, much as we do in MS and JV, and going straight to a set of four large regional tournaments. This would not entirely eliminate stacked districts, but at least it would mean that teams would play more rounds to determine if they advance to state, and a larger pool would be present to create variation. Another proposal under consideration would allow teams to register to compete at the district or regional site of their choice, with deadlines and caps until sites filled up. This would let teams that were willing to be more flexible to pick a site that isn't as badly stacked, and should, by extension, lead to better distribution of teams around the state. Such a solution, however, seriously favors the more wealthy teams or larger schools with access to travel range, and so we have to come up with a check/balance system if we consider that.

Any input on this would be welcome. I personally am happy to see change continue.
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby An Intergalactic Puzzlepalooza » Fri Mar 08, 2013 2:42 am

quizbowllee wrote:They actually just recently did some redistricting.

I thought it was just moving districts into different regions, which doesn't really help the cases like Vestavia and Altamont from this year. I think the Birmingham district used to be paired with the "Gadsden" district, which I would think would be better in terms of having a weaker lower half of the field, but only marginally so it's probably not worth doing.

Anyhow, in terms of solutions:

eliminating districts altogether at the Varsity level, much as we do in MS and JV, and going straight to a set of four large regional tournaments.


I could see this working from a competitive standpoint, though it would require more travel out of some teams and might cause you to lose a few of the Mobile teams assuming no Mobile region.

What I might do is something that I'm not sure if it would be written into official policy or not: Basically, I would try to avoid hard cutoffs on who makes it at any point possible.

The more I think about it, the wild cards do a great job of solving for the pool of death scenario at regionals, and that's a good thing. If a team can't get a wild card, then they probably weren't any better than the 12th or 13th best team in the state in the absolute worst case scenario, and that makes them approximately the average team for the tournament, which it's not a big deal if an average team doesn't get invited I don't think. But with district, Altamont could've been the 3rd best team in the state, but because of the hard cutoff they would have been stuck.

So maybe instead of taking 15 teams, splitting them into 3 pools of 5, and taking the top 2 from each pool and sending those 6 teams to regionals like the Birmingham district did, maybe you take those 6 teams, and then add in 1-2 teams off PPG. It means slightly bigger regional tournaments, but it also prevents those hard cutoffs and softens the blow of playing in a harder district.

Even if you didn't want to increase regional size, you could take the 3 pool winners and then take the 3 top remaining teams by PPG. I hadn't seen the exact numbers from our region, but I would suspect that Evangel Christian's spot would've gone to Altamont under that method.

The only other thing I could suggest is pooling based off previous year's results (Rank teams by previous year's performance, always prioritizing a team that went to state over one that lost at regionals, over one that lost at district. Then fill pools snake style.), but I seem to remember this being almost universally opposed. It's not precise, but it doesn't particularly have to be, and that would limit bad pools to some degree.
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby quizbowllee » Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:39 am

A few suggestions to consider:

1) Simply add wildcard teams at District. Keep things as they are, but also invite one wildcard from each district to regionals.

2) I don't know if the issue is lack of available rounds or what, but, playing only four rounds at Regionals is far too few rounds. We played five at District, but I understand that most played 4 even there. If there was an invitational tournament where teams only played four rounds, teams would want their money back. With so much at stake (a bid to state), I feel that more rounds should be played in order to dampen the effect of a "fluke" win.

3) In the same vain, why not crown "District Champions" and "Regional Champions" at each site? Instead of just having the top x number from each pool move on, actually rank the whole field. That way a "pool of death" might be less likely to happen. At our district, for example, the top 3 teams in both pools moved on to Regionals. Instead, we could have the "Top 6" of the field move on. Of course, this would take many more rounds and take much more time... But, we all know that a 10+ round tournament is not at all unheard of.

4) I actually just noticed this, but all four teams that made it to state from our region were also from the same district. In fact, three of the four teams (West Point, Arab, and Elkmont) were in the same POOL at District. Maybe we can look at which districts send the most teams to state and consider someway of counter-balancing. Is the Russellville, Brooks, Muscle Shoals district the ONLY one not to have a single team moving on to State? Should we guarantee at least one team from each district moves on? I'm just spit-balling here....

5) What about offering "wildcard" invitations like NAQT does for HSNCT? Basically, teams who don't make it through the District/Regionals route can apply based on their body of work throughout the year. Winning or placing high at invitational tournaments, wins against teams that DID qualify, etc. could be taken into consideration. This might also encourage more participation in invitational tournaments.

*** I really don't like the idea of letting teams "pick" their district site. I can tell you now, wherever I'm coaching, I'm going to take my team to South Alabama. No one is going to CHOOSE to play in the toughest districts. I just don't see that working.

Like I said, these are just suggestions I think are worth discussing. I'm not even sure I'm in favor of some of them myself. They are just possibilities that I have pondered.

Glad to see we're having a discussion again!
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby Joshua Rutsky » Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:03 pm

Lots of questions to address:

The limiting issue right now in a lot of ways is indeed number of rounds. We are trying to make a whole lot of tourney play happen with as few sets as possible so as to minimize expense while maintaining quality questions. We could get more materials at a cheaper rate, but they won't be consistent, of good quality, or at the level that makes events less than speedbowl shootouts, at least judging by our past experience. We certainly cant charge more for membership in ASCA without driving out large numbers of small teams, so we have to watch the budget.

This year I made a concentrated effort to try to make all the sites for regionals (AND districts) give each team five games. This didn't work for a number of reasons, the largest being the inability to guarantee pool sizes. When we had too many teams and turned to an alternate schedule method, it meant not being able to match up everyone vs. everyone, and that displeased a number of coaches who felt that luck in pool draw became too big a factor. I could explain that I spent two full days trying to craft a schedule that assured a roughly equivalent balance for each team in the bracket based on their seed going in, but I still don't know if I did well enough in doing so, and I'm certain people would have rather done it differently. If I could guarantee that we would have multiples of six at each site, that would be ideal--we could all play five rounds statewide, and everything would be happy. Too often, however, we get a group of nine or seven or thirteen and are stuck.

I totally agree with you about number of rounds, Lee, and would MUCH rather play a real, longer schedule to advance. You and I are apparently in the minority on this. While some teams statewide (and I'd say this largely comes out to the better and more experienced teams) would prefer this and know it is fairer and more accurate, we would effectively force out a large number of our teams from smaller schools if we extended the day. This is the same reason we have to hold districts on a Friday instead of a Saturday, making us find sites with inexperienced readers and staffers in charge instead of letting experienced folks handle it in a high school venue. Too many of our small school teams have coaches that either can't afford a bus to the event on a Saturday or won't do the work to get there. We get MUCH better turnout on Friday, but those small schools have no buses to spare, and have to have them back by 1:30 to run their afternoon routes. If we aren't done by 12:30, those teams end up leaving without even telling us at times.

Is this frustrating? Absolutely. Those teams rarely play or practice enough to have a prayer of advancing past the districts, and so we end up hamstringing our events in order to cater to teams that don't care nearly as much as others. Without those teams, however, ASCA would be in serious financial trouble, and we would also lose a lot of our legitimacy as the state organization. We may get to the point that we go down that path, but it is a last resort.

District wildcards aren't the worst idea. I seem to remember a reason we didn't use them, but we can revisit that.

One possibility we might consider that I'm just brainstorming at the moment is taking more of an NAQT approach to the state tourney--that is, allowing schools to register two or three teams instead of one. If we did this, it would have to be under careful rules; a team could only register a second team if space was available at a site, and those teams would have to be evaluated based on their performance over the year to determine order of acceptance at a given site. This would allow us to fill out pools into the multiple of six format, although it would certainly make competition to get to regionals even more brutal.
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby quizbowllee » Sun Mar 10, 2013 6:25 pm

Another rule change I'd like to see: the 6 player rule.

What is the purpose of this rule? Is it to keep schools from bringing a ton of people? Most teams bring everyone regardless of the rule. There have been many times where I had to exclude hard-working kids because of this seemingly arbitrary rule. At the least, I think the number of kids should be increased to 8. That way, each "starter" has an alternate. That would make more sense. I like being able to take the entire team out and replace them if needed. I've actually done this a few times before in NAQT events.
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby Joshua Rutsky » Mon Mar 11, 2013 8:35 pm

I would kill myself if I had to enter stats for the MS state tourney with 8 kids per team. It's bad enough with six and 2/3 of the teams subbing a rotation of six players. MAYBE if we got rid of bouncebacks.
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby quizbowllee » Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:53 am

Joshua Rutsky wrote:I would kill myself if I had to enter stats for the MS state tourney with 8 kids per team. It's bad enough with six and 2/3 of the teams subbing a rotation of six players. MAYBE if we got rid of bouncebacks.


Good point. I hadn't considered that aspect.

Is there any traction for the idea of getting rid of bouncebacks or - more importantly - worksheets?

We've made SO MUCH progress in the past few years in making ASCA more like "real" quizbowl. It'd be nice to eventually have ASCA simply be 20 tossup/bonuses. There is at least an argument for keeping bouncebacks (PACE still uses them), but worksheets are just bad.
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby Joshua Rutsky » Wed Mar 13, 2013 1:12 pm

There is more traction for it than there used to be, but there is still a core group who see it as something that small schools don't want done away with. I would like to see a more thorough poll done about it; if I get a chance and a current mailing list, I'll try to do so. There is no question in my mind, however, that worksheets that are actually balanced (that is, drawing from multiple content areas instead of just one) are the only acceptable type, as others can swing a game by far too large a margin based on a single topic. I also feel pretty confident in saying that once you get to that type of worksheet, they largely become superfluous except as a way to give each team 75-100 points. If you believe that losing a match 475-75 is better than 400-0, then you probably like worksheets. If you don't, well, you probably think they waste time.
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby quizbowllee » Wed Mar 13, 2013 8:17 pm

On a completely separate note, HSNCT is almost completely full and the only Alabama teams registered are West Point and Hoover. I find it sad that Alabama teams eschew the premiere Quiz Bowl event of the year.
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby Joshua Rutsky » Sat Mar 16, 2013 7:27 pm

Quick Results from today's meet:

Spain Park (8-0) wins, beating Hoover in the advantaged final in match 1, 260-250
Hoover A (6-2) takes 2nd, losing to Spain Park twice on the last tossup.
Huntsville (5-2) finishes 3rd
Gadsden City A (3-4) finishes 4th

ASFA played without their best player and went 2-6.
Hoover C finished one question away from being in 4th place.


Good meet. Thanks to Matthew Riggle, who took time out from his spring break to read for us this morning.

If anyone had doubts, Spain Park is officially the team to beat right now going into state.
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby quizbowllee » Sat Mar 16, 2013 8:38 pm

I wish we could have been there. Alas, Senior Prom is hard to compete with....

I had no idea Spain Park was that good. That's interesting information.

See you at Snead!
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby An Intergalactic Puzzlepalooza » Sat Mar 16, 2013 11:08 pm

Joshua Rutsky wrote:If anyone had doubts, Spain Park is officially the team to beat right now going into state.

I don't think judging ASFA based off today is all that meaningful, since Yoni will be at state, and he probably totals out to over half their scoring. I mean they've beaten every team there with some level of consistency other than Spain Park, and with Yoni there they're 1-2 against Spain Park, all the games having been close enough to turn pretty easily.

I do expect those two to be the two teams in the finals, though.
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Re: Alabama 2012-2013

Postby Joshua Rutsky » Sun Mar 17, 2013 11:47 pm

An Intergalactic Puzzlepalooza wrote:
Joshua Rutsky wrote:If anyone had doubts, Spain Park is officially the team to beat right now going into state.

I don't think judging ASFA based off today is all that meaningful, since Yoni will be at state, and he probably totals out to over half their scoring. I mean they've beaten every team there with some level of consistency other than Spain Park, and with Yoni there they're 1-2 against Spain Park, all the games having been close enough to turn pretty easily.

I do expect those two to be the two teams in the finals, though.


Not really sure where you are coming from on this, Joseph, but we're 2-2 on the year against Spain Park, plus one loss in a scrimmage match. As far as I know, we've only lost once this year to ASFA, and that was in a match where Yoni went nuclear and powered 7 of the first 12 questions. ASFA is very good, to be sure, but they are essentially a Yoni-or-die team, and I will always take a full team against a single player in a matchup over time. Yes, they will be in the playoffs, barring a major upset, but they won't be the team that I'll be most worried about seeing.

Spain Park, on the other hand, is also a team with a single dominant player, but I saw him get some real support during the day yesterday from other players. The main issue they face is bonus conversion. Kevin is very fast, and has gotten very good at "anticipatory buzzing" , and that turned the tide against us yesterday when we played them. In looking over the score sheets and seeing how much bounceback was left on the table in bonus conversion, I think that could have changed the game in ASCA's bounceback format. It also matters that Hoover helped them out by negging four or five of the first 12 questions from the first matchup. Neither of those take away from Spain Park being a good team, however. If anything, they are a good team that is PEAKING at the right time, and is getting some confidence in winning tight games. That matters when you get to state.

We'll see about the finals when we get there. Both ASFA and Spain Park are good teams, and have legit talent to get them into the finals. So do we. We'll see who is playing on their highest level when we get there.
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