256-205 Challenge Basketball Games Set For Upcoming Season
MADISON- An eight-on-eight boys high school basketball event like no other is set to highlight the magnificent talents of 16 teams from two of the state’s four area codes. Bryant Bank, in conjunction with the Alabama High School Athletic Association and Knight-Eady, a Birmingham-based sports events agency, is hosting the first 256 vs. 205 Challenge.
The battle between eight selected teams from each of the area codes will face teams from the opposing area code in games Jan. 16-Feb. 2. The squads will represent the Huntsville area versus the Birmingham metro. Over the course of two weeks, the teams will clash in an attempt to earn points for a victory toward its overall city’s score. At the completion of the two weeks one city will be crowned champion.
“We got this idea from last year’s Border Battle held at one location as we like the idea of a city versus city as we feel it’s better to play these games at the high schools,” said Summer Hall of Knight-Eady. Meanwhile, Michael Eady, President and owner of Knight Eady, said, “We’ve hosted similar battles, but all have been at a neutral site. This year, we’re taking it one step further and bringing the games back to the schools because there’s nothing like having your community and student body behind you as you battle between some of the best programs in the state.”
“It excites me to know we get to play a Birmingham school and I’m up for the challenge,” said Will Hawkins (G, 6-4, 160, Sr.) of Sparkman High which will host Birmingham’s Ramsay High on Jan. 24.
The complete Challenge schedule includes: Jan. 16- Vestavia at Muscle Shoals, Grissom at Oak Mt.; Jan. 17- Huntsville at Pinson Valley; Jan. 20- Haleyville at Midfield; Jan. 24- Ramsay at Sparkman; Jan. 28- Shades Valley at Gadsden City; Jan. 30- Spain Park at James Clemens; Feb. 2- Thompson at Florence.
“This is a great situation for all the teams involved as some say Birmingham has the best basketball in the state, but we have something to show them in this challenge and I’m up for the idea of giving the people what they want to see,” said Frankie Sullivan head coach of James Clemens. “This has always been a football state and this is a chance to show it can be a basketball state, too.”
The Jets just missed a Class 7-A state title in a last second 66-64 loss to Enterprise in the state championship game in the 2021-2022 season. A chance to redeem themselves against the visiting Jaguars will be the order on Jan. 30 as the Jets have two starters and eight players overall returning from last season’s state runner-up squad.
“Spain park will be well coached as they will be tall and very athletic, but I feel we’ll be up for the challenge,” said Sullivan. “Our players feel as though they want to finish the job. They have been great in their off-season conditioning and practice. They each understand it’s the little things that matter and they are excited about this game against Spain Park as they want to play against the best possible opponents and Spain Park will be one of those.”
For the Sparkman Senators, 24-9 a season ago, the Challenge game versus the Rams (5-A) is the chance to play a different classification and a school they normally would not face.
“I love the idea of playing someone new and I feel our team can take on the challenge,” said Sparkman sophomore Kahleel Green (G, 6-4, 170, So.).
“I know Ramsay is a great team, but this is a chance to represent our area as this is important to us and a pride thing for me personally,” added Hawkins, the only returning starter for Sparkman.
Chase Bell (G, 6-4, 170, Sr.) one of three seniors for Sparkman, added, “I feel I’m filling the gap in rebounding and other areas for our team and the game against Ramsay in the Challenge will come down to who wants it. I’ve got the fight in me for this game.”
Jamie Coggins, head coach of Sparkman, feels the caliber of basketball in the Huntsville area (256) can play with any team in the Birmingham area (205).
“Anything to try to promote our sport is what I like about the Challenge,” said Coggins, in his 11th season as Senator’s head coach. “I like the idea of seeing different teams and players and I’m pleased with our team through the summer and I’m looking forward to it.”
The 16 teams involved signed a two-year contract for the Challenge as the teams will play a home-and-home series.
“Ramsay better bring its A-game and better be ready,” said Hawkins. “We’ll be ready.”