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CLASS 1A GIRLS’ SEMIFINALS Spring Garden 40, Loachapoka 28

     BIRMINGHAM – Spring Garden (31-3)  downed Loachapoka 40-28 Monday in the Class 1A girls’ semifinals to clinch a berth in the AHSAA Class 1A girls’ state championship game scheduled for Thursday.
      Coach Ricky Austin’s Panthers will meet Phillips (29-3) at 4 p.m., Thursday at the BJCC Legacy Arena with hopes of capturing the school’s sixth state title and first since 2016.
     Senior Tiyonna Rogers scored 17 points and cleared 20 rebounds to pace Spring Garden. She was 5-fo-5 at the foul line and the team finished 12-of-14 for the game.  Macy Reedy added 11 points and Payton McGinnis had eight points and eight rebounds.
    Loachapoka (22-5), coached by Anthony Edwards, was led by Colby Cox ans Kaitlin Hill, with 14 and 12 points respectively. Hill also had five rebounds.
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.


Selma Girls’ Basketball Coach Anthony Harris Leads Saints to 20 Wins for 15th Season

MONTGOMERY – Selma High School girls’ coach Anthony Harris saw his Class 6A Lady Saints beat Central-Tuscaloosa 58-56 at the buzzer when Kynadra Lewis nailed a lay-up in overtime.
   The shot sealed Harris’ 399th career coaching win at Selma and landed the coach and his team in the AHSAA Basketball Spotlight this week. The Lady Saints captured win 400 the next night with a victory over rival Southside.
    The victory also improved Selma to 22-4 on the year – clinching a 20-win season for the 15th time in Harris’ 20-year coaching tenure. With an overall record of 400-96 heading into the area tournament this week, he has seen his share of buzzer beaters during that span.
      He’s been on both sides of such dramatic finishes – and still finds them exciting.
     As the seconds ticked away, he said was concerned that his clock was going to run out.  “Lewis picked it up and laid it up,” Harris told the Selma Times-Journal. “I turned my head away because I thought the time was going to run out.”
     The victory avenged an earlier 53-35 setback to the Falcons.
    “We knew it was going to be a test, and I wanted it to be a test,” Harris said. “It got a little tough for us, but we told them to never quit.”
     The milestone Selma victory edged out an amazing shooting performance by defending Class 3A state girls’ champion Locust Fork. Opening play in the Class 3A, Area 11 tournament Monday night, Coach Barbara Roy’s Lady Hornets sank an AHSAA single-game state girls’ basketball record 20 3-point goals in a 95-36 win over Blount County rival J.B. Pennington.
    Eight different girls sank at least one 3-pointer with Rachael Baker and Carissa Horton making four each, Jayleigh Tawbush and Hannah Armstrong sinking three apiece. Locust Fork shot 64.5% from the 3-point arc for the game, another AHSAA single-game record, nailing 20 on just 31 attempts.
    The previous record was 19 3-point goals made by North Sand Mountain (2011), Clay-Chalkville (2009) and Cold Springs (1999).

    In other outstanding performances reported:

BOYS
QUA’DARIUS PETERSON, HOUSTON COUNTY: Scored 21 points and had 12 rebounds as the Lions (15-8) beat Rehobeth 108-104 in overtime in the final game of the regular season. Seven players scored in double figures for Coach Brandon Brown with Savion Jones scoring 18, Zydarien Brown 17.  Rehobeth (14-13), which placed five players in double figures, was led by Jordan West, who had 31 points, and Samuel Mounce with 20. The combined 12 players who scored in double figures is believed to be a record for a single game.
   Rehobeth’s 104 points in a loss ties for fourth all-time in the AHSAA Record Book. Pisgah set the record in a 127-126 five-overtime loss to Sylvania in 1998. Springville also scored 123 in a 124-124 two-overtime setback to Pinson Valley, Lamar County had 119 in a 151-119 loss to South Lamar in 1992, and Huntsville-Butler had 104 in a 107-104 six-overtime loss to Grissom in 1996. Ironically, Houston County followed with an 18-13 win over Pleasant Home in the Class 1A, Area 2 tournament.
RALPH BARRETT, CENTRAL-FLORENCE: The 6-foot-3, 230-pound senior scored 27 points in  a 64-55 win over Brooks to hand the Lions their first loss of the season – snapping a game winning streak. He also has 23 points in a win over Lauderdale County.
BRANDON GREEN, PHILLIPS: Scored 34 points in a 76-61 victory over Hackleburg and added 19 points, including a shot at the buzzer, to give the Bears a last-second 50-49 win over Phil Campbell.
LUKE TIDMORE, WHITESBURG CHRISTIAN: Sank five 3-pointers and finished with 29 points in a 64-54 win over New Hope.
QUAIMAINE OLIVER, BARBOUR COUNTY: Had 24 points and 10 rebounds and the Class 2A Jaguars beat Class 6A Northview 66-58.
CALVIN DAVIS, BLOUNT: His 3-point play with 1.2 seconds left gave the Leopards a 59-56 win over Baker. He had 15 points in the game – helping Blount battle back from a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
DEMONTREZ BROWN, BOB JONES: Sank a shot at the buzzer to give the Patriots a 43-41 win over Columbia.
B.J. ANDERSON, ANDALUSIA: Scored 25 points as the Bulldogs closed the regular season with a 77-44 win over Opp.
ROBERT SCOTT, PLEASANT HOME: Had 21 points and Austin Kelley added 15 as the Eagles beat T.R. Miller 60-50 in the final regular-season game of the season.


GIRLS
KYLA BELL-BARTON, T.R. MILLER: Led the unbeaten Tigers (24-0) to a 66-61 win over Samson (24-3) with 19 points in the come-from-behind win. LaTascya Duff scored 35 for Samson.
SADIE THOMPSON, LAWRENCE COUNTY: Scored 32 points as the Class 5A Red Devils beat defending Class 1A state champion R.A. Hubbard.
KAYA JOYNER, CHEROKEE: Had games of 31 and 24 points in two wins over Vina and Athens Bible.
TYONNA ROGERS, SPRING GARDEN: Had 25 points, including 8-of-10 at the foul line, in Spring Garden’s regular-season closing 71-33 win over Weaver.
TAYLOR AIKERSON, DESHLER:
Had back-to-back 23-point performances as the Tigers beat Mars Hill Bible and Russellville.
KATHLEEN WHEELER, PRICEVILLE: Scored 25 points and grabbed eight rebounds as the Bulldogs beat West Morgan 52-38.
KAITLYN RIDLEY, PIEDMONT: Sank two free throws with four seconds left to give Piedmont a 38-35 win over Pleasant Valley.
RIVER BALDWIN, PLEASANT HOME: Had 27 points, six rebounds and four blocked shots as the Class 1A Eagles fell to Class 3A T.R. Miller 46-36.

T.R. Miller 66, Samson 61: In a battle of state ranked teams, Class 3A sixth-ranked unbeaten T.R. Miller edged Class 2A top-ranked Samson in Samson, 66-61.


AHSAA Basketball Spotlight Georgiana’s Ja’Michael Stallworth Scores 55 In 88-81 OT Win over J.F. Shields

MONTGOMERY – Georgiana senior guard Ja’Michael Stallworth scored a school-record 55 points in last week’s 88-81 overtime win J.F. Shields to land in the AHSA Basketball Spotlight this week.
    Stallworth had 27 in the first half, 18 in the third and fourth quarters and closed out going 10-for-10 at the foul line in overtime as Coach Kirk Norris’ Panthers improved to 22-2 on the season. Stallworth missed his first free throw of the night and then made with 18 in a row to finish 18-of-19. He made two free throws in the final seconds of the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime.
   Stallworth has been a part of 108 Georgiana wins in his high school career. The Panthers have lost just 11 times during that stretch. The 55 points surpassed the previous high of 41 by Jacquez Payton in 2014. Stallworth now has 1,559 points 119 career games and is averaging 22.9 points per game this season. He also has 397 career assists, 381 career rebounds and 251 career steals.
    Pisgah senior Annie Hughes also went over 50 points in the Eagles’ 99-75 win over North Sand Mountain. She finished with 54 points.

MILESTONES
LAUREN WATSON, ARAB: Broke the Lady Knight’s single-game school record scoring 42 points in 62-60 loss to Fort Payne last week, breaking the previous record of 41 scored by Ali Smalley in the AHSAA Class 5A State Basketball Tournament in 2006. Watson, who went over 1,000 points for her career earlier this season, was 17-of-28 from the field and 10-of-11 at the foul line versus Fort Payne. She also had 25 in a 54-49 win over Albertville in what was likely the last varsity game played in Arab’s current gymnasium.
DONOVAN O’MALLEY, McGILL-TOOLEN CATHOLIC: The senior manager for Coach Phillip Murphy’s Yellow Jackets, who was born with Down Syndrome, saw his dream come true when he started in the school’s final regular-season game versus Baker, a 55-49 win. He hit a bucket to tie the game at 2-2 before taking a seat on the team bench. He also got back into the game late.  Donovan, who served four years as the team manager, discussed the chance to play last spring with Murphy. He was honored prior to the game along with the six other seniors on the team. Baker coach David Armstrong graciously worked with Murphy to provide this special memorial for Donovan, who accompanied McGill-Toolen to three straight Class 7A state football games and two straight basketball state tournament appearances. In December, he was introduced with the football seniors at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa prior to the title game against Hoover.
KOLBY TINKER, PLAINVIEW: Was 5-of-12 from the 3-point line and finished with 19 points to lead Plainview (25-2) to an 88-77 win over Houlka (MS). The Bears made 17 of 39 to give them 364 made 3-pointers on the season, a new AHSAA single-season record. Cullman held the mark previously with 353 made treys in the 2014-15 school year.

BUZZER BEATER
DEJONTE THOMAS, FAITH ACADEMY: Sank two free throws with eight seconds remaining to lift the Rams (18-9) to a 53-49 win. He finished with 12 points. He also had 21 points in a 63-45 win over Williamson.

In other highlights reported:

BOYS 
BROOKS BARNHIZER, ALMA BRYANT: scored 27 points and cleared 10 rebounds in a 62-47 win over Mary Montgomery.
TRINITY BELL, ALBERTVILLE: His 23 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks helped the Aggies beat Boaz 56-47.
NOAH BOLER, DECATUR HERITAGE: Scored nine point in a 57-26 win Whitesburg Christian to go over 1,000 points for his career for Decatur Heritage.
RYAN McILWAIN, UMS-WRIGHT: Scored 19 points to lead the Bulldogs past Thomasville 61-39. UMS-Wright (20-5) had 30 points in the second quarter hitting 8-of-11 3-pointers in the period to take a 40-19 lead into intermission.

GIRLS
DESTINE RAMOS, FAITH ACADEMY:
Poured in 33 points and added 12 rebounds in a 56-38 win by the Rams (17-7) over St. Paul’s Episcopal.
ADIYA MATTHEWS, ALMA BRYANT: Led the Hurricanes (19-6) to a 65-34 win over Cottage Hill Christian scoring 30 points in the win.
KAITLIN PETERSON, EUFAULA: Scored 25 points and teammate Rachel Johnson added 16 points, seven rebounds and six steals as the Tigers (23-4) beat Dothan 60-37.
GABBY PERKINS, BRANTLEY: Had 21 points and 10 rebounds in an 82-27 win over McKenzie.

Pickens County Sanctioned for Violation of Academic Rule

     Pickens County High School has been fined and placed on probation for one year for violating the Academic Rule. The school self-reported the violation.
     PCHS allowed a student to participate on the boys’ basketball team before he had met all eligibility requirements. Therefore, Pickens County’s boys’ basketball team must forfeit any games won in which the student participated while ineligible. In accordance with the AHSAA Restitution Rule, once the student becomes eligible, the student must sit out the same number of contests in which he participated ineligibly. The area tournament bracket will reflect any forfeits that affect final area standings.
     The probationary period is a warning that other violations of this nature could bring further sanctions against the school.


Sumter Central Sanctioned for Exceeding Maximum Contests Allowed

     Sumter Central 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 contests t
he boys’ basketball team played and won after exceeding the maximum number allowed must be forfeited. Accordingly, the AHSAA Restitution rule requires the boys’ basketball team to sit out the same number of contests in which they played ineligibly. Due to the restitution, Sumter Central will not participate in the Class 5A, Area 7 tournament and their season has ended. The probationary period is a warning that other violations of this nature could bring further sanctions against the school.


Huffman Sanctioned for Violation of Coaching Outside the Sports Season

     Huffman High School has been fined and placed on probation for one year for violation of Coaching Outside the School Year and for coaching a transfer student from another school prior to enrollment. The school self-reported the violation.
     Furthermore, any coach that coaches a student from another school renders that student ineligible at the coach’s school for the next school year. Huffman’s boys’ basketball must forfeit all games won in which the student participated. Moreover, in accordance with the AHSAA Restitution Rule, once the student becomes eligible, the student must sit out the same number of contests in which he participated ineligibly. The area tournament bracket will reflect any forfeits that affect final area standings.
   The probationary period is a warning that other violations of this nature could bring further sanctions against the school.