State Basketball Primer: News, Notes, Key Info for This Week’s AHSAA Tournament
The Alabama High School Athletic Association State Basketball Tournament begins Monday.
The event returns to the renovated Legacy Arena for the first time since 2019.
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Due to construction at Legacy a year ago, the tournament was split between UAB and Bill Harris Arena.
The Class 1A and 2A semi-finals will take place on Monday.
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Six schools will send their boys’ and girls’ basketball teams to Birmingham this week.
Lanett does it for the fourth time.
They will be joined by St. James, Park Crossing, Lee-Huntsville, Plainview and Southside-Selma, who are both sending teams for the first time.
On the way to the final
Defending Class 6A girls champion Hazel Green brings a 57-game winning streak to the tournament.
Tim Miller’s team (33-0) faces Park Crossing (30-4) Wednesday noon.
The last loss for the Trojans came on December 19, 2020 against Ensworth (Tenn.). They lost that game 50-47. Their last loss in the state was over two years ago against Ramsay (43-31) on January 25, 2020.
Hazel Green has won the last four Class 6A state titles.
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On the boys side, only two 2021 champions are back to defend their titles – Lee-Huntsville in class 5A and Autaugaville in 1A.
However, this is not the case on the girls’ side where only two defending champions (Carver-Birmingham in 5A and Rogers in 4A) does not have to return to.
Hoover (7A), Hazel Green (6A), Prattville Christian (3A), Pisgah (2A) and Skyline (1A) are all back.
Two women’s basketball teams will have a chance to tie the record for most consecutive state titles.
Lauderdale County currently holds the mark with five consecutive titles between 2012 and 2016.
Hazel Green (6A) and Pisgah (2A) have both won four straight.
Lauderdale County also holds the record for most women’s titles with 13. Pisgah is second with nine. Wenonah has eight.
On the boys’ side, RC Hatch and St. Jude hold the record for titles won with 10.
The record for consecutive titles is four, a mark held by Francis Marion (1998-1991) and Sacré-Coeur (2015-2018).
5 players to watch
Obviously, there will be a lot of talent on the floor all week.
Here are five players to watch:
Reniya Kelly, Jr. Hoover (vs. Davidson, Noon, Thursday)
Samiya Steele, Sr. Hazel Green (vs. Park Crossing, Noon, Wednesday)
Syriah Daniels, Soph., Auburn (vs. Vestavia Hills, 9 a.m., Thursday)
Kelsey Thompson, Sr., Davidson (vs. Hoover, noon, Thursday)
Alexis Andrews, Sr., Park Crossing (vs. Hazel Green, noon, Wednesday)
5 gaming boys to watch
On the boys side, here are five players to watch:
Barry Dunning Jr., Sr., McGill-Toolen (vs. Huffman, 10:30 a.m., Wednesday)
Labaron Philon, Soph., Baker (vs. James Clemens, 1:30 p.m., Thursday)
Jacari Lane, Sr., Lee-Huntsville (vs. UMS-Wright, 7:30 p.m., Wednesday)
Jordan Frazier, Sr., James Clemens (vs. Baker, 1:30 p.m., Thursday)
Michael Johnson, Sr., Huffman (vs. McGill-Toolen, 10:30 a.m., Wednesday)
Who is number 1?
The seven women’s basketball teams that finished the regular season first in the latest Alabama Sports Writers Association poll will play this week.
These are Hoover (7A), Hazel Green (6A), Lee-Huntsville (5A), Deshler (4A), Prattville Christian (3A), Pisgah (2A), and Skyline (1A).
This is not the case with boys.
Only three No. 1 teams — Baker (7A), Lee-Huntsville (5A), and Autaugaville (1A) — have reached the state semifinals. The other top ranked teams were Mountain Brook (6A), Westminster (4A), Cottage Hill (3A) and Midfield (2A).
When the McGill-Toolen men’s basketball team takes on Huffman on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., it will be a kind of renewed rivalry.
McGill coach Phillip Murphy and Huffman’s Steve Ward were high school rivals.
Murphy played at Homewood, while Ward played at Ramsay.
“We also went to Drivers Ed school together several years ago,” Murphy said. “He’s a great guy. He obviously does a good job. Huffman is solid everywhere and very good defensively. They have a first-year guard (Peyton Wiggins) who is going to be the next big thing in Birmingham. They’re going to have a lot to deal with. We just have to keep doing what we’re doing and keep that advantage and hopefully we’re ready to go on Wednesday.
McGill is on its fourth trip to the final four in the past seven years.
Etched in history
Faulkner University signee Ella Jane Connell already has her name in the Prattville Christian Book of Records in four categories.
Earlier this month, she became the PCA’s all-time leader in points scored and is now approaching 2,200 for her career. She also holds school records for assists (nearly 600), field goals (nearly 800), and steals (over 400).
Connell’s teammates CoCo Thomas and Hannah Jones both surpassed 1,000 career points this season. They also both have over 1,000 rebounds.
The varsity charter school girls are in the bottom four in just their second year of competing in the region and only their fourth year of existence.
The team has already won 15 games this year – a school record – and has yet to have a senior class.
All players are coming back next year.
The starting lineup consists of a junior, a sophomore, two freshmen, and an eighth-year student.
All State Basketball Championship tickets can be purchased through the Legacy Arena at the BJCC Central Box Office or through Ticketmaster’s online platform at www.ticketmaster.com.
All single tickets are $12 with a $1 venue fee, plus additional service charges. All tickets are for general admission seating. There are no reserved seats in the BJCC Legacy Arena for this event.
All day tickets are valid for all matches for which the ticket is purchased/used and there are no ‘pass out’ privileges.
All semi-final and championship matches are produced by WOTM TV and will be broadcast live on the NFHS Network at www.nfhsnetwork.com and broadcast live on the AHAAA Television Network.
RADIO: All games will be broadcast live on the AHSAA Radio Network and can be accessed at https://mixlr.com/ahsaaradio as well as various radio stations across the state. Check with your local station.