Basketball; other odds and ends

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Basketball season is now bouncing along at full-force in Shelby County with the conclusion of high school football. Once again, Shelby County showcases some of the strongest teams and brightest stars in the state.

Calera boasts top teams in both boys and girls basketball.

Both will shoot for a return trip to the AHSAA playoffs at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.

George Drake, a Vanderbilt-signee, is the star of the boys team that has finished as 2A-runner-up the last three seasons.

Shanavia Dowdell is a force for the girls team, led by coach Scott Gafford.

There are plenty of hot teams and standout-players in other parts of the county as well.

Oak Mountain’s boys are on a tear in 6A competition, and Shelby County looks like it could be a contender in 4A.

Kingwood Christian School returns all but two girls from last year’s team that lost only one game – the AISA, 3A championship game at Huntingdon College.

Sophomore Hannah Phillips is a phenomenal talent for the Lions.

And Pelham’s Michael Adams has garnered some attention after competing in last year’s AHSAA all-star game, and traveling this summer with another all-star team to Las Vegas.

The days of organized football are now over for the brothers Vansant.

My youngest brother, Adam, finished his senior season by earning his third state championship ring – that’s three more than his two older brothers combined.

It was a privilege to get the chance to watch him play whenever Hoover squared off with a Shelby County team this season.

Nationally ranked Hoover proved its place as a high school football powerhouse by finishing undefeated in Class 6A.

While the Bucs where seldom challenged this season, teams from Shelby County played them as tough as anybody.

Pelham, Thompson, Oak Mountain and Spain Park all faced the state champs during the regular season.

The Jaguars came within striking distance of ending Hoover’s season in the second round of the playoffs, and Pelham went toe-to-toe with the Bucs for at least a half until turnovers wiped away any shot at an upset.

After leading the Jaguars to another 6A playoff appearance, Spain Park coach Vince DiLorenzo was given a 5 percent raise, according to media reports. The Jags are now 16-8 since the school first yielded a senior class two years ago.

On the subject of raises, both Calera’s Ken Adams and Montevallo’s Jim King are the only head football coaches in the Shelby County School system to bring home less than $50,000 annually from salary and booster club payments, according to media reports.

Both have done an outstanding job establishing respectable programs.

Calera turned in the best season in the county and one of the best in school history with an 11-1 record. The Bulldogs program also continues to improve, just missing the playoffs with a 5-5 mark.

Shelby County coaches’ salaries stack up well with those in much of the state.

But even the highest paid coach in the state’s most affluent county (Oak Mountain’s Jerry Hood), doesn’t hold a candle to some of the biggest earners roaming the sidelines of Alabama prep football.

Ashley Vansant is the sports editor at the Shelby County Reporter. He can be reached at