E.A. Sports Today

Nolan goes national

Sacred Heart guard scores 17, helps Alabama Challenge win 17U AAU national championship

By East Alabama Sports Today

ORLANDO, Fla. — Kevion Nolan has two state championships to his credit. Now, he can add a national crown to his resume.

Nolan, Sacred Heart’s sharp-shooting guard, scored a team-high 17 points on the strength of five 3-pointers to help his Alabama Challenge team beat MATTS Mustangs 60-52 to win the AAU 17U national championship Monday.

“It’s a good feeling; I guess you can say I’m just a winner,” Nolan said. “It’s good to know I’m capable of winning on a higher level, not just the state level.”

Nolan, a rising senior on the Cardinals’ two-time Class A high school state champions, hit three of his 3s in the first half as the Challenge opened a 41-22 halftime lead. They jumped out to a 19-2 start in the HP Field House at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

“I played my role,” he said. “That’s what my coaches tell me: Play your role and we’ll come out on top. My role is to shoot the basketball — that’s what I did — and whenever I can pitch in, that comes along.”

Nolan was one of four Challenge scorers in double figures. Rayshaun Hammonds (Norcross, Ga.) had 15, Herbert Jones (Hale County) 13 and Tony Johnson (Eufaula) 11.

But Nolan didn’t just make plays when it was easy. He had a steal and layup in the second half after the Mustangs made it a two-possession game early in the third quarter.

“We were trying to get something good,” he said. “We didn’t get the basket and I saw they were trying to get it out of their hands quick. The guard was right behind me, I just kind of bent down and he threw it, and I turned around and finished.

“It was a big play because we needed something to spark us around because they were slowly chipping back at us.”

The national championship isn’t the end of Nolan’s story in Orlando; the team plays in a super showcase there this week. He already holds scholarship offers from UC-Santa Barbara, Samford, Jacksonville University and Austin Peay.

When he returns from the trip, the focus will be on having a big senior year.

“I want to just increase my game and, of course, win the state three times and prove to everybody once again we’re the best team in the state no matter what the competition,” he said.

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