Story by Griffin Pritchard | Publisher
Photos Courtesy Autauga Academy Basketball
CENTRAL ALABAMA SCOREBOARD OFFICE – Two days after winning the AISA Class AA Football championship, the Generals traded cleats for sneakers and ran the floor with back-to-back wins over Hooper (63-31) and Fort Dale (66-31). The march toward a basketball title hasn’t stopped since.
“We have a tradition for having really good athletes here at Autauga Academy,” said William Turner, coach of the Generals. “But this is the first time we have a combination of basketball-minded players. CJ Perry, for instance, is a true basketball player. We tried to influence him to come out and play football and he did his junior year. But he quickly realized it wasn’t for him and from that point on his focus has been basketball. He hit the weight room this summer and worked out harder than some of the football players and put on 20 or so pounds of muscle.”
And that’s a reason he’s averaging 14 points a game.
The stats speak for themselves. Since the ball dropped on 2022, the Generals have not been in a contested ball game leading to the Generals’ undefeated run.
· January 6 Autauga 62, Edgewood 23
· January 7 Autauga 80, Cornerstone Christian 46
· January 11 Autauga 79, Hooper 55
· January 18 Autauga 72, Edgewood 57
· January 20 Autauga 95, Ezekiel Christian 36
· January 21 Autauga 90, Cornerstone Christian 56
In terms of high school basketball unbeatens (looking at the most recent Alabama Sportswriters poll) Autauga Academy (boys), Prattville Christian and Hazel Green (girls teams / AHSAA) are the only undefeateds.
Turner: “We don’t play a lot of basketball games because we are a football school and we are usually into the playoffs when basketball season starts. It’s a blessing to go out there with these kids and focus they have. I don’t know if I’ve had a team buy into my defense, into my philosophy, like these guys have. We ‘re averaging a 30-point spread in our wins. The closest game we’ve played was Glenwood without AJ and still won by three points. After that, the next closest is 15 points.
The athleticism of the Generals reflects in the state sheet. Robert Rose is averaging 23 points per game, Josh Palmer is averaging 12 with six rebounds, Perry is averaging 14. Throw in the guard play of Pharrell Banks (averaging three steals and five assists a game) and Deuhn Carroll (who just feasts on offensive rebounds and put backs) and there are no weak spots to exploit.
Which could be one of the contributing factors in the Generals’ stranglehold over their region. Autauga is the clubhouse leader with Edgewood right behind them. Cornerstone and Hooper are currently split with the two squads battling for the third slot and a berth into the playoffs. Only three teams advance – so whomever is fourth will be eliminated.
But – this season still has two games on the regular-season schedule (Tuesday at home against Hooper and then the big showdown with top-ranked Pike Liberal on January 31) and Turner feels that his boys are up to the challenge.
Turner: “They’re very goal-oriented, this group. They put all their stuff out there as individuals and want to achieve those goals, but they also set team goals and hold each other accountable to achieving them.”
In that run of 2022 wins, Rose has had four games scoring 20 or more and a run-high 30 points (against Ezekial). Palmer has opened up his offense over the last few games as well scoring 20 or more in wins over Edgewood and Cornerstone Christian.
A win over Hooper on Tuesday can secure the region title and a win over top-ranked Pike can send the Generals into the postseason riding the crest of a huge momentum wave. These next two games, Turner said, the goal is to treat them just like the playoffs.
“We are going to treat every game with as much intensity as if it were a playoff game,” said Turner. “We’ve got to focus on Hooper and winning the region. But the game against Pike should be one of the better games in the AISA this season. We lost to them by eight. But last year we were a good Final Four team, not a championship team. I hope we are this year. We are going to give it everything we have.”
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