County hoops stars among state’s best

Published 1:32 pm Monday, March 23, 2009

Combined, these four players (JV McKinney, Deondré Haynes, Alisha Gentry and Lauren Parks) led their team to close to 100 victories this season and each earned a spot on the Alabama Sports Writers Association All-State Teams.

Cornerstone Christian guard McKinney was named an AISA First Team selection. Calera freshman Haynes is a Class 4A Second Team selection, while Gentry of Montevallo is a Class 3A girls’ Second Team selection and Briarwood’s Parks is Class 5A Honorable Mention.

McKinney, who scored between 12 to 50 points in a game this season, was in position to help lead Class 2A Vincent High School this season, but left in the offseason for Cornerstone, where he took the Chargers to the Final Four.

“I think he’s up there with the best of them,” Cornerstone head coach Tim Bullard said. “He’s one of the best through all of AISA for sure.”

McKinney averaged 29 points per game and 4.4 steals per game. According to Bullard, such numbers brought his team an “excitement and confidence that we knew we could go out there and do whatever we wanted to do most nights.”

Another player who helped provide such confidence was Haynes, who averaged close to 18 points per game as a freshman and was the most visible athlete on a Calera team that had four starters average in double figures.

“To ask a freshman to be your point guard and shoulder so much of the burden of handling the ball, you can’t ask for much more,” Calera head coach Robert Burdette said.

Bullard said this was the first time he’d seen Haynes play since he played in elementary school. The talent was there then.

“He’s one of the most talented ninth graders I’ve ever seen,” Bullard said of Haynes. “There’s not many things he can’t do on a basketball court.”

Just down the road from Haynes is Montevallo’s Gentry, who earned an All-State Second Team honor in her first year at point guard. Her leadership potential was shown as a sophomore, when she came off the bench to lead Montevallo to an area title and earn MVP honors.

Also gaining recognition is Parks, Briarwood’s all-time leader for 3-point field goals made (220), assists (537) and games played (144). She’s also fourth in scoring (1,138 points).