E.A. Sports Today

Long time coming

Lady Raiders win first area title in girls basketball in 16 years, preparing to face Ohatchee for trip to regionals

By East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — The Pleasant Valley girls basketball team won its first area championship in 16 years Friday when it took down Wellborn 79-60 for the Class 3A Area 12 title.

As he reflected on the milestone, first-year head coach Brad Hood couldn’t help think of the figuratively longer journey of his players and his volunteer assistant coach who was there when this crop of champions went two years with much success at all.

“This wasn’t (about) me, it was my assistant,” Hood said during the team’s victory celebration at a local restaurant. “This bunch was 3-48 the first two years when they were playing varsity as seventh- and eighth-graders. I was coaching the boys when I watched those girls struggled like that. It was hard. It’s been a long road.

“Colton (Morris) was there with them. He stuck with them and he’s the first guy I called before I accepted the job. When we’re calling plays and offenses and substitution patterns, it’s him. He knows them. We work together.”

It’s a struggle no more, unless you’re talking about the demands to have the team playing at its peak every game.

The sixth-ranked Lady Raiders (25-3) have already set the single-season school record for victories. They haven’t lost since the semifinals of the Calhoun County Tournament. And Monday night they play Ohatchee for the fifth time this season with a spot in the Northeast Regional on the line.

Wellborn will travel to Westbrook Christian.

The players were so excited about winning the area, they were still wearing their uniforms an hour after the game. Many of them were barely in the game of life the last time PV won the area in girls basketball.

“They don’t realize they’re in a position to be dominant, and we’re not,” Hood said. “They play like they’re underdogs every night and we win. They realize they’re not the underdogs any more.

“Colton uses the phrase ‘You’re the Alpha’ and they haven’t realized what he’s meant. Tonight they realized that.”

Hood said the Lady Raiders played their two best quarters of the season in the game – the first and the fourth. It’s when they held Wellborn guard Vanessa Carter to three and five, respectively.

In between Carter filled up the bucket enough to finish with 32 points, but by then the Lady Raiders had gotten so far ahead her impact was negligible. PV was ahead 21-8 after the first quarter and refusing to yield.

The Lady Raiders got scoring from nine of the 12 players who got in the game. Mikala Simpson led four scorers in double figures with 20 points. Atleigh Brannon had 19, Mac Parris 14 and Kara Perry 12.

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