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AHSAA 101st State Basketball Tourney Set for Legacy Arena | Seven Defending State Champions are Back for AHSAA State Basketball Championships 

Central Al Scoreboard

Story and photos by AHSAA Staff

    BIRMINGHAM – Seven defending state basketball champions will be in the 56-team field when the 2023 AHSAA State Basketball Championships get underway Monday at the BJCC Convention Center Legacy Arena.
    For the first time in the state tournament’s long history, all championship games will be aired by Alabama Public Television on March 2-4. All semifinal and championship games this week will also be live streamed over the NFHS Network and shown live over the AHSAA TV Network. WOTM TV, under the direction of executive producer Vince Earley, is producing all the games. The AHSAA Radio Network will also broadcast all 42 games over its network. 
     Three defending boys’ state champions and four defending girls’ state champions will be vying to defend their titles won in 2022. Among them is Class 6A Hazel Green (34-1), coached by Tim Miller.  The Lady Trojans will be vying for their sixth straight state crown when the 6A tourney gets underway Wednesday. Miller, who has a 718-99 career girls’ basketball coaching record, directed Hazel Green to 87 straight wins during that stretch. The state’s longest basketball winning streak came to an end late in the regular season in a loss to Hoover. 
    The Lady Bucs (33-1) of Coach Krystle Johnson will be competing in the 7A tourney beginning Thursday and vying for their third straight 7A state title. Prattville Christian (32-3), coached by Jason Roberson, is also riding a two-year state title winning streak. The Lady Panthers won back-to-back Class 3A titles in 2021 and 2022 but will be competing in the Class 4A state tourney this week.
    Other defending champions include Class 1A Marion County (20-13) in the girls’ competition, and boys’ defending champions Class 1A Covenant Christian (29-3), Class 3A Plainview (29-6) and Class 4A Jacksonville (27-6).

    The Eagles of Coach Bret Waldrep open play Monday in the Class 1A semifinals against Florala (23-7). 
     Classes 1A and 2A play Monday morning with Elba (25-6) meeting Marion County in the first game at 9 a.m. Florala and Covenant Christian follow at 10:30 a.m. in the first boys’ contest. Rounding out the 1A competition Monday will be Loachapoka (25-10) vs. Spring Garden (34-1) at noon in the girls’ semis, and Autaugaville (21-6) taking on Oakwood Adventist Academy (26-8) at 1:30 p.m..
     The Class 2A semifinals get underway in Monday’s second session with Geneva County (27-6) meeting Mars Hill Bible (24-5) at 3 p.m., in the first girls’ semifinals. Cold Springs (30-2) and Lanett (24-2) play at 6 p.m., in the other 2A girls’ semifinal contest. The Class 2A boys’ semifinals feature St. Luke’s Episcopal (15-11) versus Mars Hill Bible (24-9) at 4:30 p.m., and Aliceville (23-1) versus Sand Rock (22-10) at 7:30 p.m.
     The Class 3A and 4A semifinals will be Tuesday, with Classes 5A and 6A Wednesday. The Class 7A semifinals will be played Thursday.
     Valley High School, coached by Marshon Harper, is the only team in the 56-team field still undefeated. The Rams (31-0) won the Central boys’ regional title last week.  Valley is averaging 67.7 points a game while yielding only 36.3 – winning by an average 31.4 points per game.
       Forward Cam Dooley leads the Rams’ balanced offense with 18.2 points per game. Center Brandon Thomas is scoring 17.6 ppg, Denali Dooley, 12.7 ppg, Jamarious Martin, 11.3 ppg, and Jay Harper, 9.0 ppg.
    “The key to our success has been that we have been able to make it all about playing team ball,” said Harper. “The players don’t focus on who is scoring the most points each night, but concentrate on getting the ball to the open man. On any given night, a different starter can be the leading scorer.”
    Harper said even more important has been the team’s commitment to defense.
    “We pride ourselves in playing Ram Defense,’” he said. “We play aggressively and want to make as many steals and cause as many turnovers as possible. Every single game we have played this season has been preparing us for this moment.”

AHSAA 2023 State Basketball Championships
BJCC Legacy Arena, Feb. 27-March 4

Girls’ Semifinals
Elba (25-6) vs. Marion County (20-13), Feb. 27, 9 a.m.
Loachapoka (25-10) (15-8) vs. Spring Garden (34-1), Feb. 27, noon
Boys’ Semifinals
Florala (23-7) vs. Covenant Christian (29-3), Feb. 27, 10:30 a.m.
Autaugaville (21-6) vs. Oakwood Adventist Academy (26-8), Feb. 27, 1:30 p.m.

Girls’ Semifinals
Geneva County (27-6) vs. Mars Hill Bible (24-5), Feb. 27, 3 p.m.
Cold Springs (30-2) vs. Lanett (24-2), Feb. 27, 6 p.m.
Boys’ Semifinals
St. Luke’s Episcopal (15-11) vs. Mars Hill Bible (24-9), Feb. 27, 4:30 p.m.
Aliceville (23-1) vs. Sand Rock (22-10), Feb. 27, 7:30 p.m.

Scores and stories from around Central Alabama. More than just a sports Article.

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