Aliceville Captures 2A Basketball Championship First Title in School History
The Aliceville Yellow Jackets won its first AHSAA State Championship in school history, defeating the St. Luke Wildcats 44-43.
The Yellow Jackets were led by Jatavis Colvin, who was awarded tournament MVP, Tyquan Simon, who finished with nine points, and Tyjarian Williams, who finished with six points, nine rebounds, two blocks, and two steals. Brandon Cooks led the Wildcats with a game-high 20 points.
Aliceville got off to a fantastic start, scoring 16 points in the first quarter. Simon capped off the period with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, energizing both the squad and the huge Aliceville crowd. The Yellow Jackets led by as many as 12 points in the middle of the second quarter, but St. Luke responded with an 11-to-3 run to trail by four points at the half.
The Wildcats took the lead in the third quarter as Mike Myles scored five straight points, including a three and a mid-range jumper. Aliceville was not playing with the same energy and passion they had at the start of the game, allowing St. Luke to take control.
Colvin was able to restore Aliceville's lead with a 3-pointer before the end of the quarter, despite being in foul trouble.
Both sides scored on each other back and forth in the fourth quarter. Cooks regained the lead for St. Luke, but Aliceville's Tre'shawn Matthews hit a clutch 3-pointer to give the Yellow Jackets the lead again.
“I knew if the defender did not close out fast enough, I knew I was going to make it,” Matthews said. “We practice shooting every day. Before the game, after the game, we are working on shooting the basketball every day.”
With 23 seconds remaining in the game, Williams was called for a foul and sent a Wildcat player to the foul line to tie the game, who made both.
Simon attempted a game-winning jump shot but missed, but Williams grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled with 3 seconds remaining.
Aliceville led by one after Williams scored one-of-two free throws. St. Luke hoped for a miracle and attempted a full-court pass, but it was intercepted by Simon, securing Aliceville's first state championship.
“You know being as a kid, I never had a chance to compete for a championship,” Aliceville head coach Chris Walker said. “To be able to lead my alma mater to win its first state championship means a lot.”
Aliceville won its first state championship, although the Yellow Jackets have had some outstanding teams in the past. With this being the first championship, the players were experiencing history in the making.
“Just believe you can,” Walker talking about his message to his team. “You do everything for a reason. In those hardships, remember why no matter who you are doing it for. We had so many people that did not bounce one ball this year but they came and yelled their heads off for us. So, by all means, we are going to celebrate.”
This championship meant a lot to the community, and the players expressed gratitude for their efforts.
“It means a lot. We have been trying to get this since we were sixth grade, AAU, and the moment came and now we are state champs," said Keanthony Wilder.
“This moment means everything,” Matthews said. “From going to AAU trips, going to eighth grade, we have built this bond since we were little. We have been together for a long time.”
“It means a lot to me because I have been dreaming about this for a long time. Once I got to high school, I was like I got to get a ring before I leave. Then when I had my ACL surgery last year it made me come back and work even harder," said Quadarian Speight.
“This moment means a lot to me. A lot of hard work got put into this moment. Starting from AAU with this same group of guys. We have been putting a lot of work together and it feels really good for it to finally pay off for my senior year," said Jordan Sterling.
Aliceville finished the championship season with a record of 25-1. The Yellow Jackets have now won the Area, Regional, and State championships. A fantastic way to cap off a fantastic basketball season. Congrats to the city of Aliceville, Alabama.