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By JOEL COLEMAN
It's the most wonderful time of the high school basketball year.
The regular season has concluded, and beginning this week, area hoops teams are in full-fledged postseason mode with the beginning of district tournament play.
Entering this week's festivities, perhaps no team has more momentum than the East Oktibbeha Lady Titans.
Coach Randy Brooks' girls enter today's game against Noxapater at the Class A, Region 5 Tournament in French Camp sporting a 17-8 overall record and a 10-game winning streak.
The Lady Titans enter the event as the No. 1 seed after accumulating a perfect 10-0 mark in district play.
With all of their success, perhaps Brooks' only worry could be the fear of a letdown in today's 7 p.m. game against a Lady Tigers team that the Lady Titans have already beaten twice.
"I'm not going to allow (a letdown) to happen," said Brooks. "I've got two good captains (Shondra Nichols and Kelcie Lanier) that won't let that happen. They've been to Jackson before and this is their last time around and they want to get back."
Still, Brooks knows it won't be easy, even against struggling Noxapater.
"Everybody gets better this time of the year," said Brooks. "You can't underestimate anybody this time of year."
While the Lady Titans begin tournament play tonight, Barnett Robinson's boys team started postseason play Monday in French Camp, upending Montgomery County 70-64.
In that game, East Oktibbeha's Casey Neal tallied 28 points and hauled in 11 rebounds to help put the now 7-18 Titans into an 8:30 p.m. matchup today against French Camp.
While the East Oktibbeha squads compete in French Camp, there's plenty of other action taking place in Choctaw County as Ackerman hosts the Class 2A, Region 4 Tournament.
Eupora's boys and girls teams begin the action in Ackerman today as the Lady Eagles battle Hollandale-Simmons at 4 p.m. and the Eagles face Williams-Sullivan at 5:30 p.m.
The hosts end opening-round play as the Lady Indians take on Williams-Sullivan at 7 p.m. and the Indians meet J.Z. George at 8:30 p.m.
Ackerman head coach Gary Beals, who coaches both the Indians and Lady Indians, says both of his teams are excited to compete on their home floor today.
"We had a good boys practice (Monday)," said Beals. "They were really upbeat. It's just an opportunity to play again. They are excited about it because, like I told them, everybody's record at this time is 0-0.
"The girls, the key is we've got to play good defense and limit our turnovers."
Both Ackerman and Eupora's Class 2A counterpart, East Webster, begins its tournament run today in West Lowndes at the Region 2 event.
The Lady Wolverines play West Lowndes at 4 p.m. while the East Webster boys tangle with Hamilton at 8:30 p.m.
One area school will wait until Thursday to play postseason basketball.
Coach Danny Crawford's West Oktibbeha Timberwolves and coach Shelia Bailey's Lady Timberwolves each earned byes for the Class A, Region 4 event in Houlka.
With that, the West Oktibbeha boys will play on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. against the winner of today's game between Houlka and Tremont.
The Lady Timberwolves will play at 7 p.m. Thursday against either Tremont or Smithville.