Red Bay's Roberts Notches 800th Career Victory


                                                           By KEITH LETBETTER
                                              Red Bay News (Special to the AHSAA)

    Red Bay High School girls coach Donnie Roberts notched the 800th win of his long prep basketball coaching career Jan. 25 as the Lady Tigers beat Colbert Heights 64-37. The Lady Tigers improved to 22-2 this season with the win.
    Roberts, who has compiled an 800-346 overall record in his 41-year coaching career, is now the state’s career wins leader for girls basketball and the first in state history to win 800 games.  He will be inducted into the Alabama High School Athletic Association Sports Hall of Fame in March as a member of the Class of 2014.

   “It’s not about me,” he said. “It’s about how fortunate my career has been at Red Bay and the 10 years Icoached at Tremont (Ms.). All I can do is thank the kids that played for me. They had a lot more to do with it than Idid.

   After earning a Master’s Degree from Mississippi State University, he returned to his alma mater, Tremont High School just across the state line from Red Bay and compiled a 142-127 record in the next 10 seasons. Roberts moved to Red Bay in 1983 and began working on the goal of making that first trip to Birmingham for the state playoffs.
    “I came here and took over a team that was 9-11 the year before. We had a real good year that first year and we went 19-5,” Roberts said.

    Roberts, who owns a 658-219 girls coaching record at Red Bay, led the Lady Tigers to state championships in 1987, 1993, 2001 and most recently directed Red Bay to the 2012 Class 2A state finals, a 54-49 loss to Section. Last year Roberts’ team won the Northwest Regional again and lost in the Final 48 semifinals.
     “It takes a combination of things to have a state championship program. It does take coaching, but it also takes pride in our program from our girls.”

      Roberts said that it also takes the involvement of the community.

“Everybody here is involved in it,”said Roberts. They back us and support us. The community likes to see us do well.

      Roberts said that over the years some of the best memories he has is that of having the opportunity to coach both of his daughters, Laura Beth and Leah.

“I think it’s rare to have coached two daughters and to have those two daughters on two different teams win state championships. I can tell you it’s a great experience.”


 Wenonah Boys Roll To Third Straight Class 5A Title;

Faith Academy Girls Win; Champs Also Crowned in Classes 1A, 2A

     The Wenonah Dragons rolled to their third consecutive Class 5A state championship with a win over Center Point and the Faith Academy Rams claimed the school’s first girls basketball state title, climaxing Friday’s first day of Final 48 championship games at the BJCC Arena in Birmingham.

     Earlier in the day, St. Jude’s boys and Brantley’s girls claimed titles in Class 1A and Woodland’s girls and Tanner’s boys grabbed 2A crowns.


Wenonah 75, Center Point 60
     Wenonah beat Center Point 75-60 and became just the ninth school in state history to win three state titles in a row.
     The tournament, which dates back 90 years to 1923, has seen only one four-time winner (Francis Marion, 1988-91) and seven schools that have won three boys titles in a row prior to Wenonah’s 2011, 2012 and 2013 crowns. The most recent was Pickens County from 2010-12. Wenonah (34-2) became the first big school (5A or 6A) to accomplish the feat since the four or six class system began.
     Tournament MVP Justin Coleman had 17 points and five assists in the finals. He was also 3-of-6 from the 3-point line. Cedrick McGinnis added 12 points, De’Runnya Wilson 11 points and 12 rebounds, Artis Cleveland eight points and 10 rebounds and Juquan Nelson eight points for Coach Cedric Lane’s Dragons.
    Center Point (26-8), coached by Rodney Chatman, was led by senior point guard Jeffrey Hodge, Jr. The son of former University of South Alabama and Woodlawn High School standout Jeff Hodge had 26 points and four rebounds. Vinson Reese added eight points and Montego Hoskins seven and a team-high 11 rebounds.
     The 5A All-Tourney Team included:
     Justin Coleman, Wenonah (MVP); Isaiah Maston, Wenonah; De’ Runnya Wilson, Wenonah; Jeffrey Hodge, Center Point; Montego Hoskins, Center Point; Kevin Holland, Paul Bryant.


Faith Academy 51, Wenonah 50
     Faith Academy of Mobile nipped Wenonah 51-50 to claim the school’s first AHSAA state girls title.
     Senior Sydney Westry nailed a 3-point goal with five seconds left for Faith (30-4) to erase a 50-48 Wenonah lead and secure the win.
     Coach Woodie Head’s Rams got 17 points and nine rebounds from tourney MVP Jasmine Rhodes, an LSU signee. Lakhlian Rankins, a seventh-grade guard, added 12 points and Westry finished with nine. Angel Carthen had seven points, eight rebounds, one assist on her pass to Westry to set up the game-winning shot.
     Coach Emanuel Bell’s Wenonah team was led by Kaitlyn Rogers’ 20 points, eight rebounds and four steals. Jemeka Holmes had 17 points and Shauntece Catlin added seven.
     The Class 5A All-Tourney team included:
     Jasmine Rhodes, Faith Academy (MVP); Angel Carthen, Faith Academy; Lakhlian Rankins, Faith Academy; Kaitlyn Rogers, Wenonah; Jameka Holmes, Wenonah; Riley Northway, Brewer.

St. Jude 57, Brantley 56
St. Jude junior Andrew Rogers sank one of two free throws with 24 seconds remaining to give his team a one-point lead, and the Pirates' defense sealed the 57-56 win over Brantley.
     Brantley junior guard Wesley Person, who had 22 points to lead the Bulldogs (21-6), drove through the St. Jude defense for a short jumper that barely missed. Teammate Terence Bogen got the rebound, but the buzzer sounded before he could get a shot off.
     Rogers was 7-of-10 from the field and 6-of-9 from the foul line to finish with 20 points. The Tourney MVP also had 10 rebounds and two blocked shots as St. Jude (28-6) registered the school’s sixth state boys title. The Pirates last won in 2008.  Freshman Roderic Scott added 12 points on four 3-pointers, Keith Washington had 10 and LaDarius Brinson 11.
     Person was a perfect 12-of-12 from the free-throw line. Otis Guice added 17 points and Bogen nine points and nine rebounds.
     The one-point win by St. Jude prevented Brantley Coach Andrew Kilcrease from becoming the first coach in AHSAA prep history to win boys and girls state basketball championships in the same season. His girls beat Keith 61-45 in the 1A finals in a contest played prior to the boys’ finals.
     The Class 1A All-Tourney team included:

     Andrew Rogers, St. Jude (MVP); LaDarius Brinson, St. Jude; Keith Washington, St. Jude; Wesley Person, Jr., Brantley; Otis Guice, Brantley; Jimmy  Brock, Ragland; Dorryl “Ready” Swanigan, Marion County.


Brantley 53, Keith 42
Brantley junior guard Raven Davis scored 17 points and sophomore forward Amahni Upshaw added 12 as the Lady Bulldogs (25-6) beat Keith (31-4) 53-42.
    Peyton Hill chipped in 14 points as the Bulldogs erased a four-point deficit at halftime with a 23-point third quarter rally. Upshaw, who also had four assists and four rebounds, was named MVP. 
    Brantley Coach Andrew Kilcrease became the first head coach in AHSAA history to coach a boys and girls team to the state finals in the same year.  His boys team played St. Jude in the 1A championship immediately following  the girls’ finals.
    Keith was led by Harriet Winchester’s 19 points. Zkyia Pettway added 10 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
    The All-Tourney team included:
    Amahni Upshaw, Brantley (MVP); Raven Davis, Brantley; Erica Daniels, Brantley; Harriet Winchester, Keith; Lyteisha Phillips, Keith; Jackee Dodd, Lynn.


Tanner 61, LaFayette 45
Tanner jumped out to an early lead and cruised to a 61-45 win over LaFayette to claim the state title.
    The Rattlers (30-4), who won the Class 2A state football championship in December and the Class 2A outdoor track corwn last spring, used a balanced attack to claim the school’s second basketball title in the last three years. Tourney MVP Justin Smith scored 14 points, had four steals, three assists and was 7-of-8 at the foul line to pace Coach Chris Whitt’s Rattlers. Fred Rich had 14 points and eight rebounds and Jonathan Fletcher 11 points.
     LaFayette (21-12), coached by Obadiah Threadgill IV, was led by senior Raquazious Boyd’s 22 points, eight rebounds, three assists, three blocked shots and two steals. Kaminski Bledsoe and Tyric Davis added six points apiece.

     The All-Tourney team included:
     Justin Smith, Tanner (MVP); Fred Rich, Tanner; Greg Maclin, Tanner; Tyric Davis, LaFayette; Raquazious Boyd, Tanner; DeAnthony Rutledge, Luverne.

Woodland 64, Prattville Christian 53
     Woodland claimed its first girls state basketball championship with a 64-53 win over previously unbeaten Prattville Christian in the Class 2A girls finals.
     The Bobcats (34-2) and Panthers (34-1) were deadlocked 25-25 at intermission, but the quick Woodland press gave the Bobcats a 10-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. Coach Larry Strain’s team then pulled the ball out and spent most of the fourth quarter going to the foul line to seal the win.
     Tournament MVP Leah Stain, a junior and the daughter of the head coach, finished with 29 points. She was 13-of-16 on free throws -- 11-of-12 in the second half -- with three assists, four steals and 10 rebounds.
     Her performance was mirrored by All-Tourney member Kristen Emerson of Prattville Christian. Coach Jason Roberson’s senior standout had 37 points – 21 in the second half – and also had 12 rebounds to lead the Panthers. She made 11-of-15 on foul shots, 2-of-4 from the 3-point line, blocked three shots and handed out five assists. Elisabeth Kelley also had six points for PCA.
     Jaide Walker added 16 points and Shalyn Strain, Leah’s first cousin, 10 for Woodland, which finished second in 2011. Elisabeth Kelley also had six points for PCA. 
     The All-Tourney team included:

     Leah Strain, Woodland (MVP); Jaide Walker, Woodland; Shalyn Stain, Woodland; Kristen Emerson, Prattville Christian; Nicole Hoots, Prattville Christian; Elizabeth Dowd , Providence Christian.