Sunday, March 29, 2020






Six Defending Champions as the 98th AHSAA State Basketball Championships Begin Monday at the BJCC Legacy Arena

All games to be live-streamed and on live TV

     BIRMINGHAM – Four girls’ and two boys’ defending state champions are in the field as 56 high school basketball teams play in the 98th AHSAA State Basketball Championships at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center’s Legacy Arena Feb. 24-29. Nine teams are also competing in the State Semifinals for the first time in school history.
    Classes 1A and 2A open the competition Monday beginning at 9 a.m. with Spring Garden (33-2) taking on Elba (23-7) at 9 a.m., in the Class 1A girls’ semifinals. Jacksonville Christian (24-6) takes on Lanett (20-11) in the Class 1A boys’ state tourney opener at 10:30 a.m.  Coach Ricky Austin’s Lady Panthers are chasing their seventh state title this year, last won the championship in 2018. Lanett, coached by Richard Carter, will be vying for its fourth state crown – the last one also coming in 2018. Ironically, Elba, coached by Shane Hammonds, and Jacksonville Christian, coached by Tommy Miller, are in the state tourney for the first time.
   Classes 3A and 4A semifinals will be Tuesday; Classes 6A and 5A, Wednesday; and Class 7A, Thursday. The Class 1A girls’ and boys’ finals will be Thursday afternoon at 4 and 5:45 p.m.  Championship games in Classes 2A, 3A and 4A will be held Friday. Class 5A, 6A and 7A close out the 2020 State Finals on Saturday.
   All semifinal and championship games will be live-streamed over the subscriber-based NFHS Network and will be televised live over the AHSAA TV Network by WOTM TV’s cable network of affiliates. Every cable company in the state were offered the chance to broadcast the games live. Some have not accepted the offer. Check with your local cable station and if they have not signed up, urge them to do so ASAP this week.
    Teams back to defend state titles include, in the girls’ competition, Class 2A Cold Springs, Class 3A Pisgah, Class 6A Hazel Green and Class 7A Hoover. Defending boys’ champions are Class 4A Talladega and Class 7A Mountain Brook.  The Spartans (31-2) of Coach Bucky McMillan will be striving for their fourth 7A title in  row. Coach Tim Miller’s Hazel Green girls are chasing their straight Class 6A state crown.
    Schools competing in the State Tourney for the first  time are girls’ programs Elba (1A), Pike Road (3A), Shelby County (5A), Northridge (6A) and McAdory (6A); and boys’ teams Jacksonville Christian (1A), Red Bay (2A), Fairhope (7A) and Oak Mountain (7A). Two schools, Class 3A Lauderdale County and Class 5A Center Point, advanced their girls and boys to the 98th State Championships.
    Lauderdale County’s girls, 29-5 this season, have won a state-record 13 state girls’ championships overall. Coach Brant Llewellyn’s Lady Tigers also won a state-record 86 games in a row earlier this decade.
    Francis Marion (24-7) is making it first trip to the state tourney since 2000. Long-time Rams Coach Woodie Jackson (810-418), who guided the Perry County school to six state titles, retired from coach (at Selma High School) after the 2018 season and returned to Francis Marion a year later.
     Four other coaches in the boys’ tourney have coached teams to more than 700 wins in addition to Jackson – Talladega’s Chucky Miller (784-346), Lanett’s Carter (714-238), Eufaula’ Michael Smith (706-301); and Jacksonville Christian’s Miller, who has won 986 girls’ and boys’ games compiling a 390-363 boys’ record and a 596-201 girls’ record over 37 years.

    Eight coaches in the girls’ field have coached 500 or more wins, led by Deshler’s Jana Killen (784-201). Others include: Cold Springs’ Tammy West (647-207); Lauderdale County’s Brant Llewellyn (635-113); Pisgah’s Carey Ellison (623-155); Hazel Green’s Spring Garden’s Rick Austin (618-165); Tim Miller (615-97); Central-Phenix City’s Carolyn Wright (538-300); and Spain Park’s Mike Chase (529-261). Austin also has more than 200 boys wins.

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