YEAR IN REVIEW: Basketball season sees highs and lows

Published 10:17 am Friday, January 3, 2020

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A deep playoff run and a stunning upset marked the end of the 2018-2019 basketball seasons. The Pike Liberal Arts Patriots boys basketball team advanced all the way to Montgomery’s Final Four for the first time. After battling much adversity caused by the suspension of Maori Davenport the Trojans saw their season come to a close in regional play with a loss to Ramsay.

The Patriots have much success on the baseball diamond and the football team has had a consistent presence in the state playoffs. One sport that hasn’t grabbed as much attention lately is the basketball team. That changed early in 2019, when the Patriots capped off the 2018-2019 season in Montgomery.

They finished the regular season 15-6 and secured the area championship with a 73-48 dominating win over Northside Methodist.

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After a round one bye, the Patriots knocked off Macon-East 62-55 to claim a spot in Montgomery’s final four.

The Patriots matched up with Bessemer Academy in the semifinals. They led briefly in the game before ultimately falling to Bessemer 61-47.

The Patriots said goodbye to three seniors in Cody Hollis, Jade Sikes and Max Copeland.

Following the end of the season, all three seniors represented the Patriots in the AISA All-Star Game.

The Lady Patriots finished the regular season 12-15 in Mallory Floyd’s final season as head coach and advanced to the state tournament.

The Junior Varsity boys basketball team won the state championship under head coach Brandon Matthews.

The Charles Henderson boys basketball team ended their season in the postseason. Head coach Doug Branson lead the Trojans to Montgomery’s Garrett Coliseum for the regional tournament.

The Trojans finished area play 5-1 and it took a coin flip to earn home court advantage in the area tournament. The Trojans knocked off Rehobeth 85-48 in round one and took home the area championship with a 57-41 win over Greenville.

The Trojans advanced to the Sweet 16 where hosted Tallassee in Troy. Keith Wheeler scored 13 points and the Trojans advanced to Montgomery with a 44-38 win.

The run came to an end one game later with a 56-51 win over Sylacauga.

After the game, Branson reflected on his seniors and the foundation they set for Trojans basketball.

“I told them in the locker room after the game that I will battle anybody, anytime, anywhere with these guys. I also talked to the seniors about the foundation they have laid and the footprint they have created for our team and our program. They brought the effort and the leadership, and they created something that the underclassman are going to have to live up to.”

In the summer of 2018, Charles Henderson senior Maori Davenport represented Troy and the United States when she competed in the FIBA Under-18 basketball tournament in Mexico.

A few months later, Davenport learned she had been suspended by the AHSAA for receiving payment from Team USA. After appealing the decision, Davenport’s case received national attention. Davenport, along with her mother, appeared on Good American America and she received tweets from NBA superstar Chris Paul, among others and ESPN’s Jay Bilas.

After being suspended for a total of 16 games, Davenport returned to the court in front of a national audience on ESPN. She finished with 25 points in Charles Henderson’s win over Carroll.

“It felt great,” Davenport said. “I was happy because I got to play again. I did not know when I would get to play again. This whole process has been crazy, but I just wanted this process to impact the world in some kind of positive way.”

The Trojans finished as area championship in 2019 and picked up an easy 55-12 win over Briarwood Christian in the first round of the Southeast Regional.

A swarming, suffocating Ramsay defense was enough to knock off the Lady Trojans 44-42 in the regional championship.

The Goshen boys basketball team welcomed in new head basketball coach Daniell Powell heading into the 2018-2019 basketball season. After making into Montgomery’s regional in 2017-2018 under Ethan Carroll, Powell and the Eagles had their sights on getting back last season.

The Eagles won the area championship for the fourth consecutive season. With the area championship under their belt, the Eagles earned the opportunity to host the sub-regionals in Goshen. The Eagles matched up with Houston County in the sub-regionals. The Eagles, trailing by three with three seconds remaining looked to send the game into overtime, but a turnover ended their hopes in a 41-38 loss.

On the back of senior guard Bree Griffin, the Lady Eagles finished second in the Class 3A Area 4 Tournament and advanced to the sub-regionals. They fell to Geneva County 64-48 in the sub-regionals bringing their season to an end.

Like Charles Henderson the Pike County boys had to wait for a coin toss to see where they would be playing their area tournament. After finishing in a tie with Houston Academy, the bulldogs lost the coin flip, sending them to Dothan for the area tournament.

The Bulldogs took the area championship with a 35-13 win over Houston County. Their season came to a close in devastating fashion when they fell to Slocomb at the buzzer.