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    SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2007
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    BROOKE MILAM

    Postcard from Northwest Regionals

    Daily Sports Writer Brooke Milam enters her final day at the Northwest Regionals high school basketball tournament at Wallace State-Hanceville on Saturday. Here's her postcard from Friday's actions.

    Out of all the fans at the Northwest Regional this week, the supporters from the River City top the list.

    Students, parents and community members from the city of Decatur have turned out in mass numbers this week to
    support the Austin Black
    Bears and Decatur Red
    Raiders at Wallace State-Hanceville.

    Not just as a courtesy statement, Austin and Decatur's extremely vocal student sections have been the biggest and best of the entire week, filling their entire side of the end zone seating.

    The Red Raiders fed off their frenzied crowd for a 70-43 win against Muscle Shoals in the Class 5A Northwest Regional finals Friday, and it's likely that Austin will have the same kind of support in the 6A finals Saturday, based on the massive crowd the Black Bears brought to their semifinal game.

    And the players and coaches appreciate it.

    Austin coach Demond Garth said the Black Bears' student section isn't just your average group of fans.

    "Our fans don't just show up, they really cheer our guys on," Garth said following the Black Bears' semifinal win over Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa on Wednesday.

    "And they know how to cheer. They cheer at all the right times."

    Decatur is moving on to the Final Four in Birmingham next week and plenty of the Red Raiders' faithful likely will make the trip.

    Austin plays Saturday morning against Thompson with a chance to join its crosstown rival among the state's best.

    Expect the city of Decatur's fan showing to be just as strong in Birmingham.

    I venture to say it'll be the best of any of the teams' in the Final Four.

    Fans from the River City know good basketball when they see it, and the Black Bears and Red Raiders have shown them plenty this week.

    Austin and Decatur have put on a spectacular showing at the Northwest Regional, both on the court and in the stands.

    Brooke Milam Brooke Milam
    DAILY Sports Writer

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