BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Five teams from the Tennessee Valley had an opportunity to win a state championship on Friday at the BJCC in Birmingham.
Class 2A Girls’ State Championship Pisgah 74, St. Luke’s Episcopal 54
Pisgah High School completed the Drive for Five. The Eagles, coached by Carey Ellison, won their fifth straight state championship with a 74-54 victory over St. Luke’s in Friday’s Class 2A girls’ championship game at the BJCC Legacy Arena. Pisgah won 3A titles in 2018, 2019 and 2020 before moving to 2A and capturing titles in 2021 and now 2022. The state championship was the school’s 10th overall and the eighth won under Ellison’s tutelage, which ties him for most girls’ state championships coached with Hazel Green’s Tim Miller and Lauderdale County’s Brant Llewellyn. Miller will be vying for his ninth Saturday when Hazel Green takes on Oxford in the Class 6A state finals and his team will also be chasing its fifth state crown in a row.
The Eagles’ 10 state titles are second only to Lauderdale County, which has won 13. Its last championship came in Class 3A in 2016. Lauderdale County was also the first girls’ program to win five championships in a row – winning them all in Class 3A from 2012-2016. “To win that many in a row is just insane,” said senior Molly Heard, who won the tournament MVP award for the third consecutive year – another rare feat. Heard filled the stat sheet for the Eagles (33-3) with 25 points, 16 rebounds, four blocked shots, three steals and three assists. She also passed 2019 Miss Basketball Annie Hughes to become Pisgah’s all-time leading scorer with her 24th point in Friday’s game.
Heard finished her career with 2,696 points. Hughes, now at Auburn University, had 2,694 in her prep career at Pisgah. Heard is heading to Lipscomb University. Molly Holcomb added 23 points, including four 3-pointers, and Lila Kate Wheeler added 13 points.
Chloe Gilmore led St. Luke’s (21-9) with 19 points, sinking three of the Wildcats’ four treys. Iamunique Bowie added 17 points and 15 rebounds, and Arbany Holder scored 14 points. St. Luke’s, coached by Garreth Trawick, has advanced to the state semifinals in Birmingham for four straight seasons, but fell one game shy of winning its first title. The Wildcats also finished runner-up to Spring Garden in the 2020 1A championship game.
Pisgah has played in the state semifinals for six straight seasons, finishing as 3A runner-up to Locus Fork in 2017 before starting its five-year championship reign. “I’m so proud of my seniors,” Ellison said. “My seniors stepped up to the challenge. They led us all year.”
Class 2A Boys’ State Championship Section 77, Mars Hill Bible 61
Section High School senior Logan Patterson kept the tradition alive.
As Patterson and his teammates celebrated with the Blue Map (trophy) after Friday’s 77-61 victory over Mars Hill Bible in the Class 2A boys’ state basketball championship game, Patterson grabbed the trophy from his teammates. Nobody stopped him. He lifted the Blue Map and kissed it as his teammates looked on with equally amazement and joy.
“With every championship we’ve won this year, I’ve done it,” he said. “I just like it give a good smooch.” Patterson, named the Class 2A state tournament MVP, definitely deserved his solo moment with Blue Map after tallying 36 points, 12 rebounds and two steals at the BJCC Legacy Arena as the AHSAA’s 100th State Basketball Championships completed crowning state champions its second classification with five classes still to go. Section (28-9) won its first state boys’ basketball championship since 2003 and third overall. Patterson and Section coach Derek Wynn are sons of players from the school’s first state championship in the historic 1969 season – the first to combine all schools into one AHSAA. The Alabama Interscholastic Athletic Association (AIAA), which historically served the black high schools in Alabama, merged with the AHSAA in 1968-69 and all teams competed for the same state high school championships.
“Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been dreaming about this moment,” senior Alex Guinn said. The dream almost became a nightmare in the opening minutes with Mars Hill jumped out to an early 8-1 lead before Wynn called a 30-second timeout. “I just told them to breath,” he said. “We needed to just hoop.” Added Patterson, “I felt like we knew we could hoop. I was just the one who got hot. My teammates, they got me the ball. They got me open.” Guinn added 15 points and Dominik Blair scored 10 points.
For Mars Hill (15-16), coached by Jim South, junior forward Connor Pigg led the way with 20 points and seven rebounds. Hugh Hargett had 14 points, three assists and three steals.
Section shook off its early scoring drought to lead 16-14 at the end of the first quarter and 39-29 at halftime. The lead grew to 24 in the fourth quarter.
“These guys found a way, and they never quit,” Wynn said.
Class 3A Boys’ State Championship Plainview 77, Winfield 60
Plainview High School’s Bears didn’t need a buzzer-beater this time.
Plainview’s boys’ basketball team captured their third AHSAA state title since 2018, earning a 77-60 victory over Winfield in Friday’s AHSAA 100th State Basketball Championships Class 3A boys’ finals at the BJCC Legacy Arena. The Rainsville team led by as many as 25 points in the fourth quarter en route to its sixth straight victory at Legacy Arena. Plainview needed a last-second 3-pointer to win the 3A title in 2018 overtime and got a last-second layup in 2019 to claim the championship again, with Caden Millican scoring both championship-clinching baskets. In Friday’s victory, Cole Millican – Caden’s younger brother – led the Bears with 22 points, including five 3-pointers and was named tournament MVP. “We’re up 20 with 10 seconds to go and I said, ‘They can’t catch us, right?” Plainview coach Robi Coker mused about Friday’s championship. “It was a great game for us.” The Bears shot 52.3% from the field (23-of-24) and 50% from the 3-point arc (11-of-22) in what Coker called the team’s best game. Millican, when reminded of the two previous championships, said, “I like this a lot better. He (Caden) may have two, but we won by 17. Those are my bragging rights.” Credit Plainview’s depth for this championship victory. The Bears (31-6) placed three players in double-digit scoring to overcome another stellar game by Winfield’s Ja’borri McGhee. McGhee led all scorers with 38 points and added 11 rebounds after scoring 36 in the Pirates’ semifinal win earlier this week. He finished 15-of-26 from the field – and 14-of-18 on 2-point attempts. McGhee sank 7-of-10 free throws and had 11 rebounds. Logan Feltman, Winfield’s 6-foot-10 senior center, added 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Pirates, coached by Zac Wakefield. Luke Smith added 18 points and four assists for Plainview, and Dylan Haymon scored 16 points. Five different players made at least one 3-pointer. “We have five weapons on the floor – five people who can shoot, five people who can pass,” Millican said..”
Coker implied the Bears played one of their best games of the season.
“We did a great job in the half-court by limiting them to one shot,” he said. “Then, offensively, we did a great job of taking what the defense gave use. These guys are super unselfish,”
The Class 4A girls’ and boys’ state championship games are also set to be played Friday. Classes 5A, 6A and 7A will play title games Saturday.
Class 4A Girls’ State Championship Deshler (34-1) 74, Saint James (25-7) 42
Deshler High School girls’ basketball coach Jane Killen finally climbed the stairway to seven. The Tigers (34-1) won the seventh state championship with Killen as head coach – all since 2003 – with Friday’s 74-42 victory over St. James in the AHSAA 100th State Basketball Championships Class 4A girls’ title game at the BJCC Legacy Arena Friday night.
“She deserves it,” Deshler junior Chloe Siegel said. “She’s the GOAT.”
Killen and Deshler won its most recent title in 2016, followed by title-game losses in 2017, 2018 and 2020. The program has won eight state titles, starting in 1985 long before Killen took over. The legendary coach will be inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021 later this month in a ceremony at Montgomery. Her team was primed from the start Friday night. Deshler jumped out to an early 14-4 lead and methodically pulled away, thanks to 14-of-29 shooting from 3-point range while shooting 56 percent from the field. Amid the championship euphoria, Killen deflected praise and instead lauded her team’s “hunger and drive.”
“I’m so honored to coach these kids,” she said. “They’ve been a joy all year. I’m so happy for these girls. I wanted it for them and they wanted it for me. That’s love.” Tournament MVP Emma Kate Tittle led Deshler with 30 points, and Siegel added 20. Both players made six 3-pointers apiece. Katie Brooke Clemmons contributed 13 points and eight rebounds, and point guard Raegan Rickard had five assists and three steals.
For Saint James (25-7), coached by Katie Barton, junior guard KK Hall scored 13 points, and Ava Card added 12.
Siegel said she has dreamed of winning a state championship for Deshler “since I was in the fourth grade and they won back-to-back” in 2015 and 2016. I can honestly say the job is done.”