By Joshua Price/Sports Editor
Gadsden City High School head coach Reginald Huff was named Coach of the Year and Titan point guard Jalen Strong was named Player of the Year on the Big 3 varsity boys basketball team, which was comprised of players from Gadsden City, Southside and Etowah high schools.
Gadsden City finished 26-5 this season under Huff’s leadership and won the Class 6A, Area 14 championship before losing to Shades Valley, 53-52, in Subregional play.
Strong led the Titans in scoring, netting 319 points on the season, an average of 10.6 per game. Strong was the “go-to” guy in tight situations, and connected on a few buzzer beaters to win the game.
“He is a warrior,” Huff said. “When the game is on the line, you give the ball to your best player. He made bigs shots for us this year in clutch situations.”
It is uncommon for a player to lead his/her team in both scoring and assists. Strong led the Titans in assists, dishing out 135 during his senior campaign, an average of 4.5 per match.
“He sees everything on the floor and he makes things happen out there,” Huff added.
Strong finished third in team rebounding, pulling 4.6 per game.
First team All-Messenger Big 3 included Gadsden City’s Rakim Lubin and D. Davis, and Southside’s Drew Mullinax, Will Arnett and Chris Leonhardt.
Lubin led the Titans in rebounding with 182, an average of 5.9 per game. The 6’7 sophomore forward trailed only Strong in points for the Titans, netting 9.7 per game. Lubin also led the Titans in blocked shots and defensive rebounds.
Despite having lower statistics, Davis was one of the most dominant players for Gadsden City. Davis played both forward and guard for the Titans and averaged 8.1 points per game. Davis was a high-flyer, earning many fast break slam-dunks.
Leonhardt led Southside in scoring with 228 points, while Mullinax followed with 225. The guards paced the Panthers’ front-court, averaging 9.1 points per game each to earn First Team honors. Both were fine defensive players and each averaged 1.5 steals per game. The two plaeyrs were instrumental in Southside’s appearance in the Etowah County tournament, which it dropped to rival Glencoe.
Arnett was Southside’s “go-to” guy. The 6’5 forward paced the Panthers with 6.9 points and six rebounds per game. The senior is noted for his basic fundamental basketball skills, which earn him both points and rebounds. Arnett’s “old-school” style of play made him one of the top forwards in the county.
Gadsden City loaded the All-Messenger Big 3 Second Team. Titans Xzavier Taylor, Charley Terrell, Zack Burns and Jeff Garrett and Southside’s Logan Phillips filled out the roster.
Taylor averaged 6.2 points per game for the Titans. The senior forward/center also pulled 3.7 rebounds per game.
Terrell was Gadsden City’s “Sixth Man.” Terrell averaged 5.9 point and 4.6 rebounds for the Titans.
Burns was one of Gadsden City’s most consistent players and arguably one of the best defenders for the Titans. The 6’2 guard shot 31 percent accuracy from the 3-point line, averaging 5.5 points per game.
Garrett was a consistent player for the Titans, averaging five points and four rebounds per game.
Phillips was the third guard in Southside’s front court. He averaged seven points per game for the Panthers.
Editor’s note: Etowah High School did not participate in selecting this team. After numerous requests by The Messenger staff to obtain them, no nominations or statistics were submitted by any members of the Blue Devils’ coaching staff to contribute to this team.