Gentry taking control at Montevallo

Published 7:32 pm Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Alisha Gentry has come a long way since she started playing on the playground with her blue basketball in kindergarten. The Montevallo High School senior is now one of the top girls’ basketball players in the county, and is making her claim to postseason honors after scoring 28 points in a 62-54 victory over No. 6 Briarwood on Nov. 26.

Not only did she lead the offense, but she shut down Briarwood’s all-time leading 3-point shooter Lauren Parks, holding her to zero points in the game.

“She just has a natural talent,” Montevallo head coach Tena Niven said. “She came in right away and did the job and has progressed well. A lot of it is because she plays basketball all year long.”

When Gentry is not in the gym, she’s on the court outside University Baptist Church, playing against the boys.

“She’s not afraid to play any of those boys out there. She’ll take on whoever wants to,” Niven said.

Gentry, an only child, said those pick-up games is how she started, and they have helped shape her into the player she is today.

“Playing the boys, they taught me to be aggressive and to think. It’s taught me to play together,” Gentry said.

Gentry averages 14 points per game for the Bulldogs, who look to return to a Class 3A region tournament this year after missing it last year.

“We’re hoping to keep our chemistry and make the Sweet 16 and, hopefully, farther than that,” Gentry said.

For her personally, Gentry said the goal is to work harder each week and improve. That’s what Niven said helped the Bulldogs beat Briarwood.

“After the Oak Mountain game (Nov. 24), I was really upset, because we were ahead with 18 seconds left. I felt she didn’t take more control of the ball game, wanting the ball in her hand, and that was the big difference in the Briarwood game,” Niven said. “She did everything she was supposed to in the Briarwood game.”

That everything included three steals, a block and two assists.

For the girl who grew up watching the Los Angeles Lakers with her mom, Gentry hopes to sit in the Montevallo auditorium later this school year and ink a letter of intent to play in college.