Spring sports go on as scheduled in spite of J.B. Pennington fire; Lady Tigers down Lady Aggies 2-1


BLOUNTSVILLE – J.B. Pennington High School and Blountsville Elementary School were closed Tuesday after an early morning fire caused damage to the media room inside the main building of the high school.

Later in the day, the Blount County Board of Education announced the two schools would remain closed for the rest of the week, with cleanup to begin as soon as the fire was completely put out.

The school board showed compassion, allowing extracurricular activities to go on as regularly scheduled.

Under normal circumstances, extracurricular activities are canceled when a school closes for reasons such as weather, illness or in the case of today, a fire.

It served as a motivational tool for students, teachers and the administration.

Soccer was played at Sutton Memorial Stadium with the girls’ game featuring Fairview as the opponent, taking on the Pennington Lady Tigers.

The game had a dramatic conclusion as Pennington broke a tie with a goal in the final 6:30 to post a 2-1 victory.

That lifted the spirits of the Lady Tigers, who played hard for the entire contest.

Fairview took a 1-0 lead when Greta Bishop scored on a penalty kick after the Lady Tigers were called for a foul against Fairview midfielder Aysha Semadeni. Semadeni was injured on the play with Bishop taking her place to shoot the penalty kick, getting it past goalie Jenna Ogel for the early momentum by the Lady Aggies.

It remained 1-0 until J.B. Pennington scored on a free kick with 11:00 to go until halftime. Chloe Jepson's kick went through the hands of Fairview goalie Addie Eddleman and into the net with the game now locked in a 1-1 battle.

Both teams had a series of scoring chances in the second half. Fairview had another penalty kick opportunity with Grace Dorning knocking away consecutive shot on goal attempts by Bishop and a rebound shot by Semadeni.

Inside the final 7:00, the Lady Tigers cleared out a Fairview attempt on goal and ended the transition when Yosell Zuniga drove the ball into the net, and that was the game winner.

Pennington never allowed Fairview a chance to get the ball close to the net in crunch time, claiming an exciting win with lightning strikes visible north of the stadium from a great distance and a gusty wind that was blowing trash and other items inside the game's final 5:00.

Eddleman played well on goal for Fairview, knocking away 16 shots and keeping the Lady Tigers scoreless for the first 29:00 of the match and more than 33-and-a-half minutes of the second half.

Ogel played the first half at goal for Pennington with Dorning getting the call to go to the position in the second half. They both deflected four shots from being scored, aside from the one that came in the opening half.

Update on the building:

Multiple fire units, including Cullman, Hanceville and Berlin, were called in to assist in containing the burning media center.

Hanceville had a unit to report at 10 a.m., while Cullman came in around 1 p.m.

A ladder truck from the Hanceville department was used in an attempt to get through the burning building from the roof.

But the roof was not secure for firefighters until a JLG lift was brought in later in the day from Birmingham.

By 5:40 p.m., a firefighter was using a saw to cut through a hole near the fire in the middle of the old building while a lift had two other firefighters working toward the west side of the damaged area, with lifelines secured.

That allowed more smoke to pour out and the fire to eventually burn itself out.

Fred Cochran from the State Fire Marshal’s office reported the investigation into what caused the fire will begin on Wednesday.

A call was received before 5:30 a.m. with smoke coming out of the building, located on College Avenue.

Assistant Principal Steven Bryson was immediately contacted and made his way to the school, along with Principal Brian Kirk.

A communication system notified all school buses to cease operations prior to 7 a.m.

A vigil for students was held in the middle of the day at a Methodist church nearby.

While soccer played on campus, baseball and softball went on as well, taking on Susan Moore at the Blountsville Recreation Complex, located west of the high school and across U.S. Highway 231.

No report was given on if and when the missed days for this week will be made up. The school is out next week for spring break.


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