The tourney format used last year seeded all 15 teams by a vote of the coaches, but this year, the schools agreed to a change. Instead, the coaches would vote to seed the top four teams, then let the remaining schools head coaches draw a number out of a bag.
According the Weaver head coach Daryl Hamby, the Bearcats have never been ranked the top seed for the county tournament.
“I think back in 2005, we got as high as 2 or 3," Hamby said.
However, the same isn’t true for Anniston.
“I’ve been coaching the girls for nine years, and I think we’ve been the No. 1 seed every year except two, maybe three,” Anniston coach Eddie Bullock said.
The tournament will tip off Jan. 18 at 10:30 a.m. at Jacksonville State.
In addition to Weaver (10-2, 7-0 in the county) getting the boys' top seed, the coaches voted Anniston (9-5, 1-0) as the No. 2 seed, Alexandria (8-4, 5-1) as No. 3, and 1A Sacred Heart (11-5, 3-0) as the fourth seed.
“It’s a great honor being voted No. 1 by the coaches,” said Hamby. “I don’t think we’ve ever been ranked this high, so we have to be ready to take this with a lot of maturity and responsibility.”
The three-time defending county champions Oxford Yellow Jackets drew the eighth seed, and will face No. 9 White Plains to open the tournament.
“I think a lot of guys on our team will have a lot of pride going into the tournament with winning it three times in a row,” Oxford head coach Joel Van Meter said. “I think we are building confidence, but there are some really good teams in the county, and there always are.”
A year removed from his team’s Cinderella run to the finals as the No. 6 seed, Hamby has a certain message to preach to his team: “I thought last year we were the hunter, and now being the one seed, you become the hunted. Everybody wants to knock us off, and show that Weaver doesn’t deserve to be the No. 1 seed.”
On the girls bracket, along with Anniston (11-4) at the top, Oxford was selected as the No. 2 seed. The defending county champion, Jacksonville, was voted as the No. 3 seed. White Plains is the fourth seed.
“It’s a good honor that other coaches pick you No. 1,” said Bullock. “However, you have to make sure to keep it in perspective, because seeding can also set you up for failure.”
Despite the No. 1 seed, Bullock isn’t looking forward to waiting until Jan. 22 to play the Bulldogs’ first game: “In the meantime, you’re practicing while everyone else is getting game experience.”
On Jan. 18, the boys division will open with eighth-seeded Oxford vs. No. 9 White Plains at 10:30 a.m., No. 5 Jacksonville Christian vs. No. 12 Pleasant Valley at 1:30 p.m., No. 4 Sacred Heart vs. No. 13 Ohatchee at 4:30 p.m., and Alexandria vs. No. 14 Piedmont at 7:30 p.m.
On Jan. 20, it's No. 6 Jacksonville vs. No. 11 Faith Christian at 6 p.m. On Jan. 21, it's Anniston vs. No. 15 Wellborn at 7 p.m., and No. 7 Saks vs. No. 10 Donoho at 4 p.m.
The girls division will open Jan. 18 with No. 8 Jacksonville Christian vs. No. 9 Ohatchee at noon, No. 5 Alexandria vs. Piedmont at 3 p.m., and White Plains vs. No. 13 Donoho at 6 p.m.
On Jan. 20, it's Jacksonville vs. No. 14 Wellborn at 4:30 p.m. and No. 6 Sacred Heart vs. No. 11 Faith Christian at 7:30 p.m. On Jan. 21, it's No. 7 Saks vs. No. 10 Pleasant Valley at 5:30 p.m. and Oxford vs. No. 15 Weaver at 8:30 p.m.