Photo: Southside High’s Lauren Hunt (pictured above) and Etowah’s Jamin Graham (right) are the 2017-18 All-Messenger basketball team girls and boys Players of the Year, respectively. (Gary Wells)
By Chris McCarthy
Southside High’s Lauren Hunt and Etowah’s Jamin Graham lead off the 2017-18 All-Messenger basketball teams as the girls and boys team Players of the Year, respectively.
A junior guard, Hunt averaged 13.0 points and 3.0 rebounds and shot 45 percent from 3-point line while helping the Lady Panthers to a 23-2 record, the program’s first-ever county tournament championship, the Class 6A, Area 13 title and a berth in the subregional playoffs.
A junior forward, Graham was a major factor in the Blue Devils’ 25-6 record, Class 5A, Area 13 title and first Northeast Regional Tournament berth in four years.
Geaham helped Etowah beat Mortimer Jordan in the semifinals before falling by five points to Talladega in the championship. Graham averaged 11.3 points and 11.7 rebounds along with 72 blocks on the way to a making the All-State third team.
Joining Hunt on the girls’ first team were Coosa Christian junior forward Claire Davidson, Glencoe sophomore guard Anna Beth Giles, Hokes Bluff senior forward Amanda Noah and
Glencoe sophomore forward Ashley Morgan.
A second team All-State selection, Davidson averaged 22.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists as the Lady Conquerors posted a 21-10 record while winning a second straight area title.
Playing primarily at point guard, Giles helped the Lady Yellow Jackets to a 23-9 record and area championship with 9.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists a game. She also came up with 128 steals as Glencoe finished as the Class 3A Northeast Regional runnerup.
A senior forward, Noah averaged 14.8 points and 7.6 rebounds as the Lady Eagles went 22-9, won the area championship and made it to the Northeast Regional Tournament for the fourth year in a row.
A sophomore forward, Morgan led Glencoe in scoring at 10.0 points per game while averaging 7.7 re-bounds, 2.5 assists and 2.0 steals.
Joining Graham on the boys first team were Gadsden City junior guard Dee Pearson, Gadsden City senior guard Jaylen Cole, Hokes Bluff senior forward Landon Johnson and Eto-wah junior guard, Taylor Berry.
Pearson and Cole played big parts in the Titans’ 14-win season. Class 7A, Area 7 title and fifth straight appearance in the Northeast Regional Tournament. Pearson averaged 15.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 6.7 assists, while Cole was good for 15.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.
Johnson’s presence in the post helped the Eagles go 24-6, win the county and area tournaments and make it to the subregional round. Sohnson averaged 15.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists along with 39 steals and 29 blocks.
As one of the Blue Devil’s primary weapons from the perimeter, Berry averaged 13.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists a game. His last second three-point basket secured his team’s victory in both the area championship and subregionals.
The girls second team consists of Coosa Christian sophomore center India Brown (17.1 points, 16.4 rebounds; 2.4 assists; 146 blocks); Hokes Bluff senior guard Logan Black, Glencoe junior forward Lauren Cole (8.3 points, 5.3 rebounds); Southside senior guard Emilee Coker (eight points, seven rebounds) and Westbrook Christian junior guard Kenzie Saunders (9.2 points, 6.0 rebounds).
Making the boys second team were Etowah senior guard Alec Timmons (11.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists); Gadsden City senior center Mykel Woods (7.1 points, 9.8 rebounds, 6.1 blocks); Southside senior guard Tristan Riggan (10.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists); Sardis senior forwards Harley Cook (12.4 points, 6.9 rebounds; and Westbrook Christian senior forward Braden Beecham (14.0 points, 7.5 rebounds).