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Players of the Year

LANETT — Richard Carter spoke his mind while watching Anquaevious Pollard and Emanuel Littles compete last summer in the Alabama North-South All-Star Game.

The showcase event is reserved for the state’s top rising seniors.  But that didn’t stop Carter’s brightest stars from shining.

“I recognized then, and said to some of the coaches, ‘with those two right there, the sky is the limit. They’ll take you places.’”

This basketball season, Pollard and Littles took the Lanett High School boys basketball team to a third consecutive Class 2A state title.

Pollard, a 6-foot-7 forward, averaged 18 points, 14 rebounds and five assists per game. Littles, a 6-8 forward, averaged 17 points and 16 rebounds, in addition to a pair of blocks per outing.

The two big men complemented each other to a degree seldom achieved at the high school level. Together they thrived, and their team followed suit.

That is why Pollard and Littles are the 2017-18 All-Valley Boys Basketball Co-Players of the Year.

“I was just glad to say I could help the team and be a leader of the team this season,” said Littles, MVP of the state tournament. “I feel like we had a great season and accomplished a lot.”

The Panthers won 26 games, including 16 in a row to close the season, and became only the 10th boys basketball team in Alabama High School Athletic Association history to capture state titles three years in a row.

Pollard and Littles played key roles in each.

“When you’ve got two players like that, you can ride them, and you can ride them to championships,” Carter said.

Pollard and Littles possessed the individual ability to take over games on their own.

But more often than not they opted to tag team opponents. Quickly, they wore them down.

Few teams in 2A had one player who could match up with Pollard or Littles adequately.

No team had two.

“As long as we listened and played disciplined, we’d win a state championship,” Pollard said.

Both players already have signed to continue their college careers at the next level.

Pollard signed to play football at Independence Community College in Kansas, while Littles signed to play basketball at Florida Atlantic University.

Opportunities lay ahead. A legacy lays behind.

“It’s been real,” Pollard said.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Pollard has been selected to play in the Alabama-Mississippi and Georgia-Alabama all-star games, both slated for March 16.

Littles has been chosen to participate in the Georgia-Alabama game.

DID YOU KNOW?

Littles’ favorite player is Kevin Durant, while Pollard prefers Lebron James.  But that doesn’t affect the pair’s chemistry.

The two are close friends off the court, having played AAU basketball together since eighth grade.

ALL-VALLEY FIRST TEAM

Payton Allen, Fr., Chambers Academy: The 6-2 guard carried his team to the AISA Class A final four, averaging more than 16 points and seven rebounds per game. His 26-point performance against Sparta Academy in the first round of the region tournament sparked the Rebels’ unexpected postseason run.

Corey Boston, So., LaFayette: The 5-foot-9 point guard orchestrated the Bulldogs’ offense, averaging nearly 13 points and five assists per game. He showcased top-notch ball-handling skills, keen decision making and the ability to create shots for himself and others.

Matavais Burton, So., LaFayette: The 6-foot guard demonstrated a skill set similar to Boston’s, but his added height also made him an effective rebounder. He averaged 12 points and four assists per game.

Gus Davidson, Sr., Springwood School: The Wildcats’ leading scorer averaged 21 points, five rebounds and three assists per game. He also displayed a knack for delivering in the clutch, hitting a buzzer-beater that sent Springwood to the AISA Class AAA elite eight.

Ty Truitt, Sr., Lanett: His 40-point scoring spree in the regional final will go down in local lore. But Truitt, a 5-8 guard, was more than a shooter. He handled the ball with care and played relentless defense.

ALL-VALLEY SECOND TEAM

JaMarquez Boston-Gaines, Sr., LaFayette: The lone veteran in the Bulldogs’ top rotation nearly willed his team to the elite eight, pouring in 20 points and 18 rebounds in the regional semifinal.

Kevonte’ Cooper, Sr., Valley: The 6-5 center provided the Rams with a presence in the post. He averaged more than seven points and seven rebounds per game.

Keionte Dent, Sr., Valley: The 5-10 guard posted 13 points per outing, in addition to three rebounds and three assists. With a game on the line, the Rams wanted the ball in his hands.

Christian Lancaster, Sr., Springwood School: The 6-1 guard overcame an injury that sidelined him the first half of the season, finishing with 12.8 points, six rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.

Lonzie Portis, Jr., Beulah: After returning from injury, he averaged 16 points per game for a Bobcats team that wasn’t the same without him.

HONORABLE MENTION

LaFayette: Markevious Moore; Lanett: Trikweze Bridges, Kristian Story; Valley: Davontrez Daniel, Quez Trammell