An ode to an entertaining season of hoop

Published 10:02 pm Monday, February 25, 2019

It was a good season of hoops in the Greater Valley Area. 

While yes, there aren’t any local teams who are battling in Birmingham for the final four this week, the quality of the game was solid this year.

This was my first full season of watching Alabama basketball, and while I knew about the football culture, I had the slightest clue about basketball before I moved down here last May. Summer play dates gave me a sample, but there’s nothing like the real thing.

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Marcus Pollard previously said that one of the main reasons why the Greater Valley Area produces so many quality athletes is because athletics give the kids something to do in a small town to keep them out of trouble.

The basketball court is one place where you can see all of an athlete’s abilities to be displayed. Whether it be Lanett junior Kristian Story throwing down a reverse dunk in transition, Valley sophomore Jacquez Trammell soaring above the rim with ease, Valley freshman K.D. Hutchinson intercepting cross-court passes and speeding to the rim for an easy finish on the break, there was plenty of talent on display.

The Beulah girls put together a remarkable comeback in area play after beginning the regular season winless, clinching a berth in the state tournament. A total of seven local teams qualified for state tournaments this season: Beulah girls, Chambers girls, Chambers boys, Lanett girls, Lanett boys, LaFayette girls, LaFayette boys and the Valley girls.

Many eyes were on the Lanett boys to see if Richard Carter could pull off his magic for another year and take a Panthers team that lost the majority of its starting lineup to a fourth-consecutive state title. While Lanett fell short of the mark, the Panthers still made a deep run in the state playoffs after the huge turnover, falling just one win shy of the sweet 16. Seeing the Panthers former role players step up and become the focal point of an unselfish team was a joy to watch progress this season.

Coming into the season, I had an idea about how good LaFayette sophomore Feliah Greer and Beulah senior Kensley Taylor were, but seeing Springwood junior McKayla Barber, Chambers Academy sophomore Britten Stephens, Valley juniors Ana Magby and Arteria Florence, Lanett senior and sophomore Makaiya Broughton and Alysse Madden were some  of the entertaining players to watch as well.

Lanett senior Jaci Howell put on an absolute show and laid it all on the line in the Panthers’ season-ending loss in the subregional round against Westminster. She didn’t score a ridiculous amount of points or make the flashiest highlight plays, but how hard she played that night makes it was a performance that shouldn’t be forgotten anytime soon.

There’s no replacement for the atmosphere of a packed high school rivalry crowd. If this season was one of the last that we’ll see of the longtime Valley-LaFayette, Valley-Lanett or Lanett-LaFayette matchups, then the people got their money’s worth. 

It’s also worth mentioning that a player made “SportsCenter” this season when LaFayette senior JaQuavian Boston-Gaines hung from the rim after getting the first dunk of his high school career at the end of a blowout win against Woodland in the area tournament.

There was something to look for when watching every team this season, like watching Springwood junior Coleman Hull, or the Beulah boys’ big three of Lonzie Portis, Tykerious Williams and Quatavious Seroyer shoot lights out from deep. 

Watching the end of team’s runs were tough, especially the end of the Lanett boys’ championship reign, the LaFayette boys’ season ending in the hands of a point guard from Australia and the Chambers boys falling short in a championship game again after finally sealing the deal in football last fall. 

However, 2018-19 was still one to remember in the Greater Valley Area. Appreciate it, learn from it and get better for next year.