By Chris McCarthy
Although separated by just a few hundred yards as the crow flies, Gadsden City and Coosa Christian high schools are miles apart in terms of size and student body.
What the Titans and Conquerors do have in common, however, are top-notch basketball programs, a fact that is reflected in the 2016-17 All-Messenger basketball teams.
Gadsden City High senior Haley Troup and Coosa Christian senior Caden Davidson are the girls and boys Player of the Year, respectively. Troup won The Messenger’s top girls’ honor for the third year in a row.
A 5-10 guard/forward, Troup helped the Lady Titans go 24-5, finish the regular season as the fifth-ranked team in Class 7A, win the area tournament and qualify for the Northeast Regional Tournament. She averaged 19.4 points, 4.0 assists and 7.6 rebounds in 28 games this past season while shooting 84 percent from the free throw line. She also made 38 three-point baskets. Troup finished her high school career with 2,284 points, 1,235 rebounds and 842 assists. She was named to the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s All-State girls basketball first team earlier this month. Troup was the only area girl or boy player who made the ASWA first team. In addition, Troup is a finalist for the ASWA Miss Basketball/Class 7A Player of the Year award for the second year in a row. She signed a basketball scholarship with the University of South Carolina last fall.
A 6’4 forward, Davidson helped the Conquerors make school history with the program’s first-ever area championship, subregional win and regional tournament berth. He averaged a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds while dishing out five assists per game. Coosa ended the regular season as the third-ranked team in the state and finished with a 23-5 record. Davidson was selected to the ASWA All-State basketball second team earlier this month.
Joining Troup on the girls’ first team is Gadsden City senior guard Brooke Burns, Southside senior forward Kelsey Patterson, Hokes Bluff senior center Kendall Johnson and Coosa Christian sophomore guard Claire Davidson.
A senior guard who has shared the GCHS backcourt with Troup for the past four seasons, Burns averaged 14.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.7 assists while shooting 85 percent from the foul line and knocking down 39 three-point baskets. She ended her prep career with 1,877 points. Both Burns and Troup participated in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star girls’ basketball game earlier this month in Montgomery. Burns, who made the All-State second team, signed a basketball scholarship last fall with Tennessee-Chattanooga.
A second-team All-State pick, Patterson helped the Lady Panthers to a 23-4 record, an area championship and a berth in the Class 6A substate playoffs. She averaged 18 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.1 steals while shooting 60 percent from the field. Patterson signed a scholarship with Gadsden State earlier this year.
Also a second-team All-State selection, the 6’0 Johnson averaged 14 points and eight rebounds in 30 games while helping the Lady Eagles to a 25-5 record, the county and area tournament titles and a berth in the Class 4A Northeast Regional Tournament for the fourth time in the past three years. She finished her prep career with 1,083 points and will continue her basketball career at Shelton State this fall. Johnson also was the All-Etowah County Schools girls team MVP.
A third-team All-State pick, Davidson helped the Lady Conquerors duplicate the Coosa boys’ achievement of first-ever area title, subregional victory and Northeast Regional Tournament appearance. She averaged 18.5 points and 4.9 steals for a Lady Conqueror squad that went 18-5.
Joining Caden Davidson on the boys first team are Gadsden City senior Deonte Jones, West End senior Andre Little, Westbrook Christian senior Will Jones and Glencoe senior Cole Holbrooks.
As the lone returning experienced player for the Titans, the 6’2 Jones averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5.2 assists while helping the Titans win their 10th area title in the past 11 years and qualify for the Northeast Regional Tournament.
In 25 games for the Patriots this season, the 6’2 Little averaged 16.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.8 steals, 2.1 assists and 2.0 blocks while shooting 35 percent from the three-point line. He signed a football scholarship with North Alabama last fall.
In 33 games, the 5’11 Jones averaged 13.6 points, 5.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting 38 from three-point range and 77 percent from the foul line. Westbrook went 26-7, won the area tournament and made it to the Northeast Regional Tournament semifinals for the fourth year in a row.
A 6’4 forward, Holbrooks averaged 14.9 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists along with 50 blocks and 26 steals in 25 games. He helped the Yellow Jackets finished with a 17-14 record, win the county tournament and qualify for the Class 3A Northeast Regional Tournament. Holbrooks was the All-Etowah County Schools boys team MVP.
The All-Messenger girls second team features Coosa Christian senior center Samara Brewster (14 points, 13.5 rebounds per game), Hokes Bluff senior forward Tylynn Register (8.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists), Glencoe freshman guard Anna Beth Giles (8.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.3 steals, 2.9 assists), Glencoe freshman forward Ashley Morgan (9.4 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.6 steals) and Etowah senior guard Gabby Williams.
The boys second team consists of Etowah sophomore forward Jamin Graham (12 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks, two assists), Westbrook Christian senior forward Tyler Self (13.1 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.6 steals, 1.0 blocks), Sardis senior guard John Holland (13.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists), Gadsden City junior guard Jaylen Cole (15.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists) and Southside junior forward Tristan Riggan (14.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.7 steals).
Making up the girls third team are Sardis senior forward Carley Gardner, West End senior guard Tamia Timmons, Hokes Bluff junior guard Amanda Noah, Southside senior forward Mallary Smith and Glencoe sophomore center Lauren Cole.
The boys third team includes Hokes Bluff senior guard Fisher Simmons, Etowah sophomore forward Emil Smith, Coosa Christian senior guard Alex Holman,
Glencoe senior forward Micah Sizemore and Gadsden City junior forward Mykel Woods.
Coach of the Year honors went to the Coosa Christian father/son duo of Richard and Jayme Hollingsworth, who guided the Conqueror boys and girls programs, respectively, to new heights in 2016-17.