Photo courtesy of Mark Almond/al.com
By Shannon J. Allen/Sand Mountain Reporter, Chris McCarthy Publisher/Editor
Twin sisters Maggie and Marie Woodall of Fyffe made the All-DeKalb County girls basketball team following the 2019-20 season, during which they helped lead the Red Devils to their 21st area tournament championship and a 24-6 record. Basketball coaches in Jackson and DeKalb counties selected Marie to the girls Sand Mountain Super 6.
On Feb. 24, the senior twins took the next step in their careers by signing basketball scholarships with Gadsden State.
“We played Collinsville in the county tournament [finals], and after that game, he came up to us and was talking to us,” Maggie said of Gadsden State women’s basketball head coach Bryan Phillips. “We weren’t expecting it all. We didn’t think we would get to go anywhere, but he said he was going to offer us, and we were really excited. We’ve always loved basketball, and we’ve played ever since the third grade. We know a lot of girls that [Phillips recruited], too.”
“It’s really close to home,” Marie said. Maggie added, “We’re really glad we get to stay together in the dorm.”
The girls expect to play shooting guard positions for the Lady Cardinals, who went 12-15 last season and lost in the Alabama Community College Conference/Region XXII Tournament semifinals earlier this month to eventual state champion Shelton State.
The Woodalls can also play point guard.
“We’re pretty confident with our ballhandling and being out there and being able to control the team,” Maggie said.
Maggie played four years on the varsity while Marie played three, all for head coach Steve King. The twins sharpened their skills by playing against each other.
“We just always played against each other,” Marie said. “We’ve always been competitive toward each other. One of us is always like, ‘I’m going to win.’ We push ourselves a lot.”
As juniors, the Woodalls helped the Red Devils win the Northeast Regional Tournament title and finish as the Class 2A state runner-up to Cold Springs. Marie made the all-state tournament team.
“It was a tough loss, but we were happy with our accomplishments we made that year and we hoped to get there this year, but we came up short,” Maggie said.
Collinsville defeated Fyffe in the subregional playoffs this season on its way to claiming the 2A state title.
Phillips was impressed with the twins’ sharpshooting after watching several Fyffe games this past season.
“I watched Marie shoot 6-for-6 in three-pointers in a game, and Maggie can also shoot the ball,” he said.
In addition to the twins’ marksmanship, their intensity on defense caught Phillips’ eye out on the recruiting trail.
“The amount of hustle they put out on the floor night in and night out is impressive. They’re high energy-type players that the members of the team can feed off of. They’re like a pair of Tasmanian Devils out there. If you find girls who will play defense like that, the offense will come.”
The Woodalls hope their time at Gadsden State leads to a chance to finish their basketball careers at a four-year school.
“Right now, we’re focused on the two years, but we hope to get more opportunities,” Maggie said.
Maggie plans to major in family and consumer science and become a nutritionist. Marie has not settled on a major but is leaning toward elementary education.
The Woodalls’ future Gadsden State freshmen teammates include Adrianna Jones of Gadsden City, Brittany Rivera (pictured above) of Class 2A state champion Collinsville, Chloe Womack of 3A state champion Pisgah and Grace Walters of Asbury. Rivera and Womack were named the MVPs of their respective state tournaments, and Rivera was selected as the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Class 2A Player of the Year.
Jones, who signed with GSCC in late January, helped the Lady Titans finished as the Class 7A Northeast Regional runners-up
A main item on Phillips’ recruiting punch list was attracting players from winning programs. He believes he found six such in the Woodalls, Carter, Rivera, Womack and Walters, whose combined record this past season was 106-16.
“Grace is a little bit of an unorthodox player in that she’s not really flashy, but she averages around 20 points a game,” said Phillips. “And that’s despite being double-teamed most nights. I think that after she gets two years here at the juco level, Brittany will be a small DI [college] player. I think that she and Chloe are even close to hitting their ceiling.”
Another high priority was identifying and signing players who were fundamentally sound.
“That way, you can focus on fine-tuning the small things they need to work on,” said Phillips. At this level of basketball, you shouldn’t have to spend a whole lot of time teaching fundamentals, and I found myself doing that way too often all year long.”
The 2020-21 Lady Cardinals will be taking aim from the perimeter early and often.
“I’m signing shooters because I want to spread the floor out,” said Phillips. “It’s going to be layups and 3’s and not much else in between. If girls basketball has a horrible mid-range shooting percentage, you might as well shoot a three-pointer and get an extra point if you’re shooting at the same percentage. If you can shoot around 40 percent from the 3 and keep your turnovers to a minimum, you’re putting yourself in a good position to win.”
Phillips acknowledged that due to the COVID-119 pandemic, he and his fellow ACCC basketball coaches are in a holding pattern until April 18, when conference officials will meet to determine if and when the conference sports programs will be reinstated. The first official day of women’s basketball practice is Oct. 1.
“It could happen right away, or things could be pushed back a few weeks or even months,” he said. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”