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CLASS 2A BOYS’ SEMIFINALS Lanett 75, Aliceville 64

     BIRMINGHAM – Two-time defending Class 2A state basketball champion Lanett edged a stubborn  Aliceville squad 75-64 Monday night in the semifinals of the 96th AHSAA State Basketball Championship tournament at the BJCC Legacy Arena to move into Friday’s state finals.
      Coach Richard Carter’s Panthers (25-5) will face St.Luke’s Episcopal of Mobile in the championship game at 10:45 Friday morning. Lanett, which won the Class 2A state football title last December, also won the 2017 and 2016 Class 2A state boys’ basketball titles.
     The Panthers needed all their weapons to dispose of Aliceville (20-3). Lanett’s tall inside presence of 6-foot-7 Emmanuel Littles and 6-7 Anquavious Pollard was complemented by the quickness of guard Terrion Truitt. Pollard finished with 22 points and nine rebounds, Truitt had 21 points and three 3-point goals and Littles scored 15 points with several strong dunks and also cleared a game-high 11 rebounds.
    Still, Aliceville, coached by Chris Walker, was down just five points at one point in the fourth quarter. Jaquan Lee and TyQuane Wright had 18 and 12 points, respectively, combining for seven 3-pointers – most of them coming in an exciting stretch run that closed the gap in the second half. Wright had four treys and Lee had three. Edward Weston added 16 points with two 3-pointers as the Bears finished with 11 on 32 tries. Walker’s team was also 13-of-14 at the foul line but lost the rebound battle 44-27 to the taller Panthers.
    The state tournament, now in its 25th year at Birmingham’s BJCC, resumes Tuesday with Class 3A and 4A girls and boys semifinals.  Classes 6A and 5A play Wednesday, and Class 7A semifinals will be Thursday morning. Friday and Saturday will be championship games in all classes except Class 1A, which has its girls’ and boys’ finals Thursday night.
   All semifinal games in the tourney are being live video-streamed by the NFHS Network and broadcast over the AHSAA Radio Network. Both may be accessed at www.ahsaa.com. Raycom Sports will broadcast all finals.

CLASS 2A GIRLS’ SEMIFINALS Sand Rock 62, Keith 45

     BIRMINGHAM – Junior guard Kirby DeBoard scored 20 points and senior forward Savannah Blackwell had 17 points. 12 rebounds and five steals to lead Sand Rock past Keith 62-45 in the Class 2A Girls’ State basketball Championships semifinals Monday at the BJCC’s Legacy Arena.
     The victory propels Coach Lisa Bates’ Wildcats (23-8) into the Class 2A state finals Friday at 9 a.m. against Samson (30-3) in the 96th AHSAA state tourney.
     DeBoard was 11-of-14 at the foul line and also had two assists and two steals. Kynleigh Chesnut chipped in 11 points.  
     Keith (19-9), coached by Cecil Williams, was led by Ambreya Snow and Shatavia Moore, with 16 and 13 points, respectively. Moore also had nine rebounds, five steals and three assists. Jakrya Simmons also chipped in eight points.
Classes 3A and 4A girls and boys open play with semifinals Tuesday, Classes 6A and 5A play  Wednesday, and Class 7A semifinals will be Thursday morning. Friday and Saturday will be championship games in all classes except Class 1A, which has its girls’ and boys’ finals Thursday night.
   All semifinal games in the tourney are being live video-streamed by the NFHS Network and broadcast over the AHSAA Radio Network. Both may be accessed at www.ahsaa.com
. Raycom Sports will broadcast all finals.
   


CLASS 2A BOYS’ SEMIFINALS St. Luke’s Episcopal 72, Tanner 65

     BIRMINGHAM – St. Luke’s Episcopal nipped Tanner 72-65 Monday afternoon in the Class 2A boys’ semifinals of  96th AHSAA State Basketball Championships tourney at the BJCC’s Legacy Arena.
     Coach Kantonio Davis’ Wildcats (22-8) jumped out to a quick 22-11 lead over the Rattlers (21-12) of Coach Chris Whitt, but had to clinch the win in the final period at the foul line. St. Luke’s was 18-of-26 in the fourth quarter and finished 27-of-44 for the game. Senior 6-foot-5 forward Mark Wilcox, who scored a game-high 27 points, was 10-of-15 on the night on free throws, 8-of-14 from the field and had five rebounds to pace St. Luke’s. Jermaine Brown and Kevin Parden each had 12 points. Brown had a team-high eight rebounds.
     Tanner was paced by senior C.J. Yarbrough’s 19 points and seven rebounds. Jireh Jackson added 12 points, Malik Atkins and J.J. Jones, 11 each. The Rattlers were 18-of-28 at the foul line.
     St. Luke’s will play in the Class 2A finals Friday at 10:45 a.m. The Class 2A boys’ and girls’ semifinals continued Monday night with Classes 3A and 4A scheduled to play semifinals Tuesday, Classes 6A and 5A, Wednesday, and Class 7A semifinals will be Thursday morning.
   All semifinal games in the tourney are being live video-streamed by the NFHS Network and broadcast over the AHSAA Radio Network. Both may be accessed at www.ahsaa.com. Raycom Sports will broadcast all finals.

CLASS 2A GIRLS’ SEMIFINALS Samson 64, Phil Campbell 43

     BIRMINGHAM – Samson High School downed Phil Campbell 64-43 Monday afternoon a the BJCC Legacy Arena to clinch a berth in the AHSAA Class 2A Girls’ State Tournament championship game for the second time in three seasons.
     The Tigers (30-3) of Coach Chad McKnight outscored the Bobcats 21-11 in the second quarter to take a 36-25 lead at halftime. Coach Craig Thomas’ girls clawed back in the third quarter to close the game to six points before Samson closed strong outscoring Phil Campbell 17-4 in the final period.
        Senior LaTascya Duff scored 23 points and her twin sister LaTora Duff added 14 to lead the Tigers. Kaitlyn McKnight added 10 points. Diamonique Williams had seven points and 11 rebounds and LaTascya Duff also had 11 boards, five steals and made three 3-point goals. Samson finished 9-of-17 (52.9%) on threes and was 7-of-8 at the foul line.
      Chloe Roberson led Phil Campbell (27-6) with 18 points and eight rebounds. Abby Davis and Darby Elliott added six points each.
       Samson won the state titles in 2006, 2007 and 2016.
     The Class 2A boys’ and girls’ semifinals continued Monday with Classes 3A and 4A scheduled to play semifinals Tuesday, Classes 6A and 5A, Wednesday, and Class 7A semifinals will be Thursday morning.
   All semifinal games in the tourney are being live video-streamed by the NFHS Network and broadcast over the AHSAA Radio Network. Both may be accessed at www.ahsaa.com. Raycom Sports will broadcast all finals.

CLASS 1A BOYS’ SEMIFINALS Sacred Heart Catholic 76, Cornerstone 60

     BIRMINGHAM – Sacred Heart Catholic of Anniston moved one step closer to a fourth consecutive boys’ Class 1A state championship with a 76-60 victory over Cornerstone School in the semifinals of the 2018 AHSAA State Basketball Championships at the BJCC Legacy Arena Monday.
     Senior Kiante Wood had 25 points and 19 rebounds for the Cardinals (22-10). He also has three assists. Teammates Khalil Watkins and Murdock Simmons added 16 and 14 points respectively for Sacred Heart, coached by Ralphael Graves. Simmons also had four assists.  The Cardinals won 1A state titles in 2015, 2016 and 2017 and will face Georgiana (30-3) Thursday at 5:45 p.m. in the 2018 championship game.
    Cornerstone (24-8), coached by Wiley Edwards, was paced by John Stanford’ 14 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Eriq Williams added 12 points and Kelton Wilson had 10. It was the second straight state tournament appearance for the Eagles.
      The Class 2A boys’ and girls’ semifinals are also scheduled for Monday. Classes 3A and 4A are scheduled to play semifinals Tuesday, Classes 6A and 5A, Wednesday, and Class 7A semifinals will be Thursday morning.
   All semifinal games in the tourney are being live video-streamed by the NFHS Network and broadcast over the AHSAA Radio Network. Both may be accessed at www.ahsaa.com
. Raycom Sports will broadcast all finals.
   


CLASS 1A BOYS’ SEMIFINALS Georgiana 80, R.A. Hubbard 58

     BIRMINGHAM – Georgiana (30-3) jumped out to 24-7 lead in the first quarter Monday morning and rolled to an 80-58 victory over R.A. Hubbard (27-7) in the opening game of the AHSAA Class 1A Boys’ State Basketball Tournament at the BJCC Legacy Arena.
    The semifinal win by Coach Kirk Norris’ Panthers advanced Georgian to Thursday afternoon’s 5:45 p.m. finals at the 96th annual AHSAA State Finals Championships. The final Class 1A girls’ and boys’ semifinals and the Class 2A boys’ and girls’ semifinals are also scheduled for Monday. Sacred Heart Catholic and Cornerstone School were set to play in the other boys’ 1A semifinal Monday afternoon. Classes 3A and 4A are scheduled to play semifinals Tuesday, Classes 6A and 5A, Wednesday, and Class 7A semifinals will be Thursday morning.
    Senior guard JaMichael Stallworth led the Panthers’ offensive effort with 22 points. Martavius Payton added 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, Lecedric Haynes had 13 points and Christian Williams scored 12.
    The Chiefs of Coach Sonny Conwill were led by Riely Evans’ 13 points. Jaivian McGahee added 11 points and seven rebounds and Montoya Kellogg had 10 points. He also had four steals. 
   All semifinal games in the tourney are being live video-streamed by the NFHS Network and broadcast over the AHSAA Radio Network. Both may be accessed at www.ahsaa.com. Raycom Sports will broadcast all finals.
    Georgiana advanced to the 1A title game for the second time in the last three years and reached the semifinals in 2017.
    

CLASS 1A GIRLS’ SEMIFINALS Phillips 75, Linden 46

     BIRMINGHAM – Sophomore forward Alicyn McCollum sank 14-of-16 field goals attempted Monday morning and finished with 29 points to lead Phillips (29-3) to a 75-46 victory over Linden in the Class 1A girls’ state basketball tournament semifinals at the BJCC Legacy Arena.
    The contest was the first of 42 games to be played this week at the 96th annual AHSAA State Finals Championships. The Class 1A girls’ and boys’ semifinals and the Class 2A boys’ and girls’ semifinals are also scheduled for Monday. Classes 3A and 4A play Tuesday, Classes 6A and 5A, Wednesday, and Class 7A semifinals will be Thursday morning.
    McCollum also cleared 14 rebounds with her resounding dominance inside for Coach Scott Veal’s Bears from Bear Creek. Teammate Gracie Hallman, also a sophomore, added 17 points and had three assists. Senior Julianna Taylor chipped in eight points, had a game-high seven steals and handed out three assists. Lexie Dishner had eight points and nine rebounds.
    Linden (20-4), coached by Teressa Bolden, got a big game from senior guard Amber Richardson. She scored 28 points, was 9-of-11 at the free-throw line, cleared 10 rebounds and blocked two shots.  Dajai Miller also had 10 points and five steals.
     Phillips advances to the Class 1A championship game Thursday at 4 p.m., to play the winner of the other semifinal, Spring Garden or Loachapoka.   All semifinal games in the tourney are being live video-streamed by the NFHS Network and broadcast over the AHSAA Radio Network. Both may be accessed at www.ahsaa.com. Raycom Sports will broadcast all finals.
    Phillips has two state titles to its credit, winning championships in 1985 and 1986. 

AHSAA State Basketball Finals Celebrate 25 Years as Combined Extravaganza in Birmingham

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A groundbreaking idea 25 years ago changed the face of Alabama High School Athletic Association basketball. Why not bring the girls’ and boys’ state semifinals and finals to one site for a week of the best basketball in the state? It had never been done in Alabama and the format proposed for that 1994 championship tournament was likely the first ever in the nation.

 

The AHSAA would crown its champions at one site, all classifications, with girls’ and boys’ games alternating until all the nets had been cut down.

 

“I think everyone will agree it’s been a great 25 years for basketball in our state,” said Steve Savarese, the current AHSAA Executive Director. “Having all the teams playing at one site makes for a special environment to showcase our student-athletes, their coaches and all the fans.

 

“The tournament has been a great success for the AHSAA and for the city of Birmingham. We are grateful for all of our partners who make it such a memorable event.”

 

The genesis of the tournament finals coming to the state’s largest city came from the Birmingham Tip Off Club’s then-president John D. Clements and then-AHSAA Executive Director Dan Washburn in 1993. Clements’ idea was to bring the six prep champs to the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center for a “Tournament of Champions” to create an extra buzz for the sport. Washburn rejected that idea, but offered a different plan – why not crown all the champions in an event in the Magic City to generate a next level of excitement?

 

Clements and his fellow Tip Off Club members leapt into action, creating the Alabama Basketball Foundation to serve as the organization to administer the tournament, securing sponsors, housing at the Sheraton Civic Center hotel for the teams and officials, and creating a volunteer program that rallied the community around the teams and the event.

 

Former Tip Off Club president Jim Conrad prepared a tournament manual that has served as a blueprint for conducting the event. A logo and marketing theme was put into place – “State Finals, 48 Teams, 1 Dream” – that was used for many years.

 

Clements said the consolidation and move of the tournaments to Birmingham had its risks for the AHSAA, including the end of the long tradition of having eight boys’ teams advance to the finals. The makeup of the first Alabama Basketball Foundation board helped smooth the transition. The board was made up of Tip Off Club members Clements, Edgar Welden, Ron Edwards, Bill Meagher, Dick Coffee III and Mike Washburn. Members from the AHSAA were Washburn, Jimmy Cal, Max Ray from the Central Board of Control, Vestavia Hills High School coach Fran Brasch and Bryant-Jorden Scholarship Foundation board member Larry Striplin.

 

The agreement that combined the two tournaments into “Final Four” extravaganzas also started the four regional tournaments, dubbed collectively as the “Road to Birmingham.”  The first year the regionals were played at Alabama State University in Montgomery, Jacksonville State University, Wallace State Community College in Hanceville and Faulkner Community College in Bay Minette. Along the way, the the south site moved to Troy University, the University of South Alabama and is currently held at Dothan Civic Center. Since that first season, approximately 2 million spectators have watched the state championship qualifier tournaments.

 

Birmingham businesses joined the effort to support the tournament in Birmingham from the get-go, Clements said. “Coca-Cola United of Birmingham has been a loyal sponsor and supporter of the tournament since its inception,” he said, “not only financially but with in-kind products for the participants during the tournament, marketing and personnel to assist with the production of the tournament.

 

“HealthSouth (now Encompass Health) also committed as an initial sponsor. HealthSouth provided trainers and medical personnel in attendance during the games and participant medals given to each player. The Birmingham News provided in-kind promotional and advertising services. Alabama Power also participated by providing promotional assistance – and sponsored a popular slam-dunk contest and 3-point shooting contest. Later, Alabama Power became a full participating financial sponsor. The City of Birmingham and Jefferson County also agreed to help.”

 

The Tip Off Club also devised the concept of providing hosts for each team to assist them from the moment the results of the regionals were known until their state in Birmingham was complete. Sally Bryant, and later Janis Clements, headed up the effort to recruit volunteers and match them with the teams. Many of the hosts went the extra mile, providing treats for the players and some even invited players and coaches to their homes and/or offices for a sort of “career day.” At least one host was later invited to speak at “his” team’s postseason banquet and others have received championship rings from their team.

 

Welden, a Birmingham businessman and longtime supporter of high-school athletics, told the Over The Mountain Journal in a 2016 interview: “I really think putting the boys and the girls in the same venue was one of the best things that ever happened for girls’ basketball in the state. We put them on equal footing with the boys and gave them a showcase they hadn’t had previously. Other states have followed our format.” That unique concept has been copied by other several other states since then.

 

That first year at the BJCC, the girls’ Class 2A matchup between Lauderdale County and top-ranked Fyffe drew the largest crowd with a record-breaking 6,500 in attendance.

 

This year’s State Finals begin on Monday with Class 1A and 2A girls’ and boys’ semifinals.  The Class 1A girls’ semifinal contest between Linden (20-3) and Phillips (28-3) kicks off the eight-game slate at 9 a.m.  Classes 3A and 4A play Tuesday, Classes 6A and 5A tip on Wednesday and Class 7A semis will be Thursday.  Championship games begin Thursday afternoon and continue through Saturday afternoon. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com.


McAdory Boys’ Basketball Team Exceeds Maximum Contests Allowed

     MONTGOMERY – McAdory High School has been fined and placed on probation for one year for the boys’ basketball exceeding the maximum number of contests allowed in the regular season. The school self-reported the violation.
     Furthermore, all regular-season contests t
he boys’ varsity basketball program played and won after exceeding the maximum number allowed must be forfeited. Accordingly, the AHSAA Restitution rule requires the basketball team to sit out the same number of contests in which they played ineligibly. On page 27 of the AHSAA 2017-18 Sports Book, it states in item 2: Schools are permitted to play (a maximum) 20 regular-season games and (unlimited contests) in three tournaments prior to area, sub-regional, regional and State Finals play.
      Restitution begins immediately. As a result of this violation being reported to the AHSAA early Friday morning, February 9, the next scheduled contest for McAdory is the finals of the Class 6A, Area 9 basketball tournament against Hueytown High School (HHS).  As restitution for game one over the allowable contests, MHS must forfeit this contest to HHS.  Thus, Hueytown will be the tournament champion and advance to Game 14 of the Class 6A Northwest Sub-Regional round. Furthermore, McAdory’s restitution for game two over the allowable contests will be a forfeit in Game 15 of the Class 6A Northwest Sub-Regional. Thus, the Class 6A Area 16 winner will advance to the Northwest Regional Tournament. Because the 2018 season has ended and McAdory is unable to fulfill the last restitution requirement, an additional fine is being assessed. 
      Hueytown, as Area 9 champion, will host the Area 16 runner-up in the sub-regional round.
      The probationary period is a warning that other violations of this nature could bring further sanctions against the school.


Midfield Boys’ Basketball Team Exceeds Maximum Contests Allowed

     MONTGOMERY – Midfield High School has been fined and placed on probation for one year for the boys’ basketball exceeding the maximum number of contests allowed in the regular season. The school self-reported the violation.
     Furthermore, all regular-season contests t
he boys’ varsity basketball program played and won after exceeding the maximum number allowed must be forfeited. Accordingly, the AHSAA Restitution rule requires the basketball team to sit out the same number of contests in which they played ineligibly. On page 27 of the AHSAA 2017-18 Sports Book, it states in item 2: Schools are permitted to play (a maximum) 20 regular-season games and (unlimited contests) in three tournaments prior to area, sub-regional, regional and State Finals play.
      Restitution begins immediately. Midfield, the Area 8 tournament champion, will not participate in the Class 3A sub-regional playoff game versus Area 7 tournament runner-up American Christian. As a result, American Christian will advance to the Central Regional Tournament.
      The probationary period is a warning that other violations of this nature could bring further sanctions against the school.