Chambers County represented at All Star week

Published 6:49 pm Friday, July 21, 2023

The North vs South All-Star Game took place on Tuesday and Chambers County was well represented in Montgomery. 

Laila Lancaster from Lanett High School as well as Cam Dooley and Brandon Thomas from Valley High School all put on a show on Tuesday. Each player played for the South team.  Lanett’s girls basketball coach, Charlie Williams, was also an assistant coach for the South team. 

It was an all star game so substitutions were made frequently, and each player did not get as many minutes as they would in a normal game. However, each player from Chambers County made their presence known while on the floor. 

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The South girls team ended up losing to the North by 36 points. Lancaster finished the game with five points, five rebounds and one block. 

The game was obviously very different from any regular season game. Each team only got two practices together. The practices were also not mandatory and attendance did not affect a player’s minutes. 

Lancaster’s biggest advantage is that she towers over most of her opponents. Williams said that she was able to impact the game due to her size advantage. 

“She has height,” Williams said. “One thing you can’t coach is height and Laila has that.”

Williams said that when you’re coaching an all star game like this, your players on the all star team often get punished. A coach does not want to seem like they are showing favoritism towards their own players. 

Knowing this, Lancaster showed her maturity when she let Williams know that she would not be upset about her playing time. 

“I admire her so much for the way she acted because she came to me midway through the game and said ‘coach, I ain’t going to get mad if I don’t get to play that much’,” Williams said. “She wasn’t saying it like she was scared, or didn’t want to play or anything.”
Williams attributes that maturity to how many big stages Lancaster has played on. Lancaster has been active in travel ball, and she has been around high level players. Lancaster has already committed to play for Auburn at the next level. 

The boys game was much more closely contested. The South ended up beating the North by two points after a go ahead basket by Jamicah Adair in the final moments of the game.
The Valley connection was evident in the boys game. Thomas finished the game with eight points, eight rebounds and five assists. Dooley finished the game with eight points, six rebounds, four steals and five assists.
The North led the game up until late in the second half. Dooley hit a three with just six minutes left to push the South’s lead to six points. The North retook the lead, but Thomas would cut the lead to just one after a dunk to set up the down to the wire finish. 

There was not very much team oriented basketball played in the early parts of the game, but Dooley and Thomas found ways to set up their teammates and put effort into their defense. 

Valley’s Head Coach, Marshon Harper, was impressed with what he saw from his two star players. 

“They looked real relaxed out there,” Harper said. “They were just letting the game come to them, and that’s what they’ve been doing all year. They looked like they belonged.” 

Harper was also recognized in Montgomery on Thursday night for winning Coach of the Year. After this final bit of recognition, Harper is ready to look forward to the upcoming season. 

“It’s been an unbelievable year,” Harper said. “Last night, received the award and was grateful and happy. When I got back home, ya know, I took the ring off and it’s time to go to work.” 

During the girls game Williams got to coach with other head coaches. Williams said that the experience coaching with other head coaches served as a good opportunity for him to learn a few things. 

“They got different ways of coaching, you got different ways of coaching,” Williams said. “I picked up some things. I know she (Emily Flanigan) told me she picked up some things. Basketball is still basketball. People just have different ways of their interpretation and how they want things done.” 

Williams said that the biggest difference between a big school and a small school is the amount of time that you have with the players. Most of the girls on Williams’ team play other sports. At bigger schools, players will often focus more on a single sport. 

Another big part of being selected to play in the North vs South game is the festivities. The players and coaches all got the opportunity to tour the city and visit historical sites.