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PCA leader reflects on championship season

Story by Griffin Pritchard | Publisher

Photos by PCA Basketball

CENTRAL ALABAMA SCOREBOARD OFFICE — The Prattville Christian Panthers Basketball Team currently treads where few have trod after winning its third consecutive AHSAA State Basketball Championship. PCA repeated as 3A winners and, earlier this month, ran the 4A table with a 76-59 victory over Priceville.

“This has definitely been a fun and exciting season,” said an emphatic Panthers Basketball Coach Jason Roberson. “With the move to Class 4A, we really wanted to embrace this new journey. I believe our focus was to be the very best we could be and hopefully that would be enough to compete in a higher classification. To help us with this mindset we chose the motto Anyone … Anywhere, which comes from Matthew 28: 19-20. We wanted to accept the challenge of playing larger schools and different opponents while at the same time hopefully impacting new schools and opponents in a positive way by how we play.”

The Panthers – in their first 4A foray – ran into the likes of Hamilton, Dallas County and Wilcox County in the regular season and then Hale County, Bibb County and New Hope in the playoffs on the way to acquiring a 34-3 record. The record is a credit to the Panthers themselves and the work they’ve put in to build this program. 

“The Twin Towers of course led us,” said Roberson. The ball coach is referring to the combination of Coco Thomas and Hannah Jones (5-foot-11 and 6-foot-1, respectively) who dominated the season, averaging double-doubles at 20 points and 10 rebounds (Jones) and 13 points and 10 rebounds (Thomas) a game. In the state championship win over Priceville, (another on the list of first-time opponents for PCA) the Twin Towers rattled off 52 points and 31 rebounds. 

Roberson’s response: “Unbelievable.”

Thomas – who grabbed 19 boards in the first-round was named the 4A MVP. Her counterpart, Jones, was named the volleyball MVP – PCA won that championship too, another 4A first – and will be attending Memphis this fall. The team, though, was built out of stronger stuff than just two powerhouses banging around for boards and baskets on the inside. They had a sniper sinking a school-record 123 three-pointers. Avery Rogers – from the guard position – averages 12 points a game; six assists; four steals and three rebounds. She finished the year shooting 40 percent from outside the arc. In the grand finale, she added 17 points to the championship-winning tally. 

Roberson: “We definitely had some unsung heroes this season. Kayden Carr, who is only in 8th grade, started for the second consecutive season and really improved this season.  We gave her the role of being the primary ball handler for us and she was amazing!  She led the team with 214 assists which is second most all-time in a season in PCA varsity Girls’ History.  She averaged 7 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals a game.  She also is extremely versatile defensively, able to guard smaller guards as well as guard post players if we needed her to.

Ally Blankinchip, only a Sophomore, was our defensive stopper and our heart and soul on the defensive end of the floor!  She brought so much energy, passion, and toughness to our team this year.  She is without a doubt one of the premier on-the-ball pressure defenders in the state of Alabama!  She also did a great job of knocking down huge three-pointers for us throughout the season and in the playoffs!

Jenna McClendon at 6’3″ came off the bench and had a very productive season for us.  She averaged 5 points and 5 rebounds a game and was able to give some rest to Hannah and CoCo as well as allow us to play big in some situations.  She was definitely one of our unsung heroes this season and we believe she is going to be a future star as she was only a sophomore this season. ”

The secret is out and PCA won’t be on the come-up this winter. Where do the Panthers go from here?

“I believe that this season just adds to the culture of winning that these ladies have set in the past,” said Roberson. “Losing the Twin Towers will definitely be tough, but we will focus on simply being the best version of ourselves and working extremely hard next season to accomplish that. If we focus on that, the success and winning will take care of itself.”

Founder/Publisher of Central Alabama Scoreboard. Former sportsguy, and managing editor.

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