A few random notes, thoughts and observations to get the new year rocking along ...

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District races begin for Henderson County area basketball teams this week. Based on what we’ve seen in non-district, there could be some good ones in the offing.

The most competitive of all the races will likely be for the District 14-AAA girls title, which is being defending by the Athens Lady Hornets. Coach Keith Durrett’s squad went unscathed in the 10-game district schedule last year.

While the Lady Hornets will no doubt be in contention for the title again this time around, they will be hard-pressed to match last year’s feat of perfection. From top to bottom, the district is solid and a case can be made for any one of the six teams to, if not win the title, to at least make the playoffs.

Certainly no disrespect intended to the Lady Hornets, but Bullard looks to be the team to beat this year. The Lady Panthers, 17-4 going into district, are loaded with experience, enhanced by a talented 6-2 move-in player.

To successfully defend their title, the Lady Hornets will be tested from the start. They were scheduled to play Friday at Bullard and travel Tuesday to Canton. Though they’d certainly prefer a 2-0 start, considering both are on the road, there would be nothing wrong or disheartening with a split.

Bullard, the Lady Hornets and Canton could be considered the top three teams going into the district race, but there’s really not a fraction difference (if that much) between them and Brownsboro, Van and Chapel Hill.

It will definitely be a district race worth watch and likely one that will prove to be worth remembering.

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While we’re talking roundball, if you’re a fan of the teams at Trinity Valley Community College, circle Wednesday on your calendar. That’s the day of the only home game for the Lady Cardinals and Cardinals the first half of the month.

Jacksonville College will be at Cardinal Gym. Action begins with the women’s game at 5:30 p.m. The men’s game should start around 7:30 p.m.

TVCC, on the road Saturday against Kilgore in the first Region XIV Conference game since the holiday break, is scheduled to travel this coming Saturday to Carthage to face Panola and then go to Lufkin to play Angelina the following Wednesday.

The next home doubleheader after Jacksonville is Saturday, Jan. 19, versus Paris.

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University of Houston head women’s basketball coach Joe Curl, at TVCC in the late 1980s and early ’90s, continues to improve at home following a major heart attack and triple-bypass surgery in November.

Just before Christmas, doctors allowed him to start driving. No word yet on when he’ll be cleared to begin coaching again, but his family reports he’s getting anxious to do so.

Continue to keep him in your prayers and thoughts.

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The countdown for the University Interscholastic League’s biennial realignment is well under way. Friday, Feb. 1, is the day schools across the state will learn of the classification and districts for the next two years.

On the homefront, the biggest question this year is whether Mabank will remain in Class 3A or again compete in 4A. The school district reportedly turned in an Average Daily Membership of 984.

The bottom number in 4A is currently 950. That number is expected to rise for the upcoming realignment, but if it’s enough to keep Mabank in 3A remains to be seen.

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Don’t forget the BCS title game between Ohio State and LSU is Monday night.

Ohio State is in the title game for a second straight year, having lost last year to Florida. LSU is the first two-loss team to play for a national title.

FOX will televise the game at 7 p.m.

Prediction: Ohio State 24, LSU 20

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And finally ... have an absolutely awesome weekend.

Benny Rogers is sports editor for the Athens Daily Review.

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