Sports 2009 Year In Review

Take a look back at the biggest storylines and biggest names in Shelby County sports in 2009.

January

CORNERSTONE JUNIOR SCORES 50 POINTS

Cornerstone Christian School junior J.V. McKinney scored a school record 50 points as the Chargers downed rival Coosa Valley Academy 80-61 in an Alabama Independent School Class 1A, Region 1 game hosted by Cornerstone. McKinney scored 24 of his career-high 50 in the first half and drained seven 3-point baskets in the game. “I want to hit Kobe’s 81,” McKinney said of his career-best performance. “But I’ll take a win over everything.”

BRIARWOOD SENIOR JOINS 1,000-POINT CLUB

Briarwood Christian School senior Lauren Parks joined the school’s 1,000-point club with 18 points in the Lions’ 62-41 win over rival Chelsea in a Class 5A, Area 8 game. Parks became head coach Jim Brown’s fourth 1,000-point career scorer.

FORMER SPAIN PARK ATHLETE DETAINED AND RELEASED

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents posed as Hoover police officers when they detained former Spain Park High School track and field athlete Imad Mohammad, 18, his mother Sana, at their Hoover home Jan. 12 at 6:30 a.m. The three were picked up on warrants of an invalid visa, while Imad’s five brothers and sisters were left behind, including 17-year-old brother Amin, a Spain Park offensive lineman. Mohammad and his mother were released from a detention center in Louisiana and allowed to return home Jan. 28.

February

OAK MOUNTAIN SENIOR WINS WRESTLING TITLE

Oak Mountain High School senior John Blakely pinned Terrance Smith of Robert E. Lee in Montgomery to take home the title in the 171-pound weight class at the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 6A state tournament in Huntsville. Blakely was one of four wrestlers from Oak Mountain to make the finals, while Spain Park had two and Pelham had one.

TWENTY-NINE ATHLETES INK SCHOLARSHIPS

Twenty-nine Shelby County high school athletes signed college scholarships around National Signing Day, led by Oak Mountain’s Chandler Hoffman signing a men’s soccer scholarship with UCLA.

SHELBY ACADEMY CAPTURES BASKETBALL TITLE

Montevallo transfer Sean Gilbert scored 11 points in the final three minutes to lead Shelby Academy to a 38-32 win over Warrior Academy in the Alabama Independent Schools Association Class 1A championship game at Huntingdon College in Montgomery. It turned out to be the school’s final athletic championship, as Shelby Academy announced it was closing in August.

CALERA, MONTEVALLO SENIORS NAMED PLAYERS OF THE YEAR

Calera High School senior Demarcus Dowdell and Montevallo senior Alisha Gentry named the Shelby County Reporter’s boys and girls basketball Players of the Year, respectively, for the 2008-2009 season.

March

CORNERSTONE SOFTBALL WINNING STREAK SNAPPED

The Cornerstone Christian School Chargers’ 67-game winning streak in softball came to a halt with a 2-0 loss at Ashford Academy. The streak was the longest winning in softball in either Alabama Independent Schools Association or Alabama High School Athletic Association history.

April

PELHAM SNUBBED AT PLAYOFF TIME

The Pelham High School Panthers are left out of the Alabama High School Athletic Association playoffs despite a 24-6 record and a No. 22 ranking by Baseball America following an 11-4 season-ending loss at Hoover. Injuries to shortstop Andrew Bishop and ace pitcher Trae Santos derailed a 24-2 start to the season.

PELHAM BROTHERS WIN TENNIS TITLE

Pelham High School brothers John and Jim Flaniken captured the Alabama High School Athletic Association No. 1 doubles championship at the state tennis tournament in Gulf Shores.

May

CORNERSTONE WINS SOFTBALL TITLE

Cornerstone Christian School captured its third-consecutive Alabama Independent Schools Association Class 1A softball championship with 5-1 and 3-2 victories over Ashford Academy at Lagoon Park in Montgomery.

SPAIN PARK CAPTURES GIRLS SOCCER TITLE

Spain Park High School won the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 6A girls’ soccer championship with a 4-0 victory over McGill-Toolen in the championship game at John Hunt Park in Huntsville. Annalika Steyn was named the state tournament’s most valuable player after scoring the first goal of the game.

SPAIN PARK SWEEPS GOLF CHAMPIONSHIPS

Spain Park High School swept both the individual and team championships at the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 6A golf tournament at Robert Trent Jones’ Capitol Hill in Prattville. Robby Prater finished at even-par for the tournament and won a playoff against Fairhope’s Mason Seaborn to capture the boys individual championship. Hannah Collier finished with a low round of three-under par 69 on the final day to win the girls title.

BRIARWOOD FALLS IN CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES

Briarwood Christian School dropped a doubleheader to Hartselle to fall in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 5A baseball championship series at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery. The Lions defeated Hartselle in the series-opening game May 13 before falling 2-1 to the Tigers in the deciding third game.

June

PELHAM SENIOR TABBED IN MLB DRAFT

The Washington Nationals selected Pelham High School senior centerfielder Alvin Hines in the 50th round of Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft. Hines decided to attend Samford University on a football scholarship.

WRESTLERS CAMP IN ALABASTER

Local high school wrestlers spend the first of 30 days over the summer training at the Alabama Wrestling Club complex in Alabaster.

July

SHELBY ACADEMY CLOSES DOWN

A proud athletic tradition came to an end when Shelby Academy announced it was closing its doors. The Raiders owned Alabama Independent Schools Association championships in nearly every sport, including a football championship in 2006 and a boys basketball title in 2009.

FATHER OF SOCCER PASSES AWAY

Ray Woodard, considered the father of soccer in the state of Alabama, passes away at the age of 72. Woodard was one of the top soccer players in the nation in the 1950s, being named an All-American for Brockport State University of New York and helping Brockport win a shared national title with Penn State University in 1955. After teaching at a high school in New York, Indian Springs School offered to double his salary if he’d move to Alabama. He left his science class behind and moved to Alabama as a physical education teacher and coach. Shortly thereafter, he started a soccer team at Springs, and the sport was born in the state. Woodard won numerous unsanctioned state championships, but it was not until 2008 that Springs won a boys’ soccer title sanctioned by the AHSAA. After he retired from Springs in 1997, Woodard kept coaching through youth ball, building relationships with many of the state’s top players. He coached three Women’s National Team players on Alabama’s 82 Olympic Development Team in 1997. In 2002, he was named the US Youth Soccer Adidas Coach of the Year as coach of the Region III boys’ team.

August

FOOTBALL SEASON BEGINS WITH HOPE LOSS

Hope Christian’s 26-14 loss to the Flint Hill Flame kicked off the 2009 football season. Things looked bleak for the Eagles (0-1) from the onset when junior quarterback Zac Hughes lost the exchange from center on the opening play of the season to give Flint Hill the ball in Eagle territory. The season ended on a better note with Hope Christian claiming a National Association of Christian Athletes Division III championship.

CALERA REGAINS BRAGGING RIGHTS AGAINST MONTEVALLO

Junior Brandon Wells led Calera to a 33-15 win over rival Montevallo to open the Eagles’ season, which put an end to the Bulldogs’ short-lived winning streak in the series. After winning five in a row against Montevallo, the Eagles fell in 2008 before regaining bragging rights with the 33-15 win.

September

CORNERSTONE SENIOR HAS CAREER GAME AGAINST COOSA VALLEY

Cornerstone Christian School senior running back LaDarius King rushed for 265 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Chargers past rival Coosa Valley Academy.

EXCITING FOOTBALL GAMES ALL AROUND

Plenty of excitement occurred on the gridiron as the 2009 football season got into full swing. Briarwood Christian School handed Shelby County its first regular season loss in two years. Spain Park got off to its best start in school history as the Jags improved to 4-0 with a win over Mountain Brook. Pelham topped Class 6A, Region 6 leader Vestavia Hills on the road in triple overtime and also defeated rival Thompson for the 16th time in the past 19 seasons. The Warriors also had a highlight as they snapped a nine-game losing streak with a win over Oak Mountain.

CALERA VOLLEYBALL ADVANCES TO FIRST SUB-STATE MATCH

The Calera High School volleyball team qualified for the sub-state round of the Alabama High School Athletic Association playoffs for the first time in school history after finishing third at a regional tournament hosted by the Eagles.

KINGWOOD VOLLEYBALL FALLS IN CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH

The Kingwood Christian School Lions fell just short of capturing a second consecutive Alabama Independent Schools Association Class 2A volleyball championship with a loss to Morgan Academy in the title match.

November

BRIARWOOD, OAK MOUNTAIN FALL IN ELITE EIGHT

Briarwood Christian School and Oak Mountain both fell in the AHSAA Elite Eight volleyball tournament at the Pelham Civic Complex. The Lions fell in the Class 5A semifinals to eventual champion Faith Academy, while the Eagles lost to McGill-Toolen in the quarterfinals.

COOSA VALLEY WINS FIRST PLAYOFF GAME SINCE 1993

Coosa Valley Academy won its first AISA playoff game since 1993 against Restoration Academy.

HOPE CHRISTIAN WINS NACA TITLE

Hope Christian School capped its football season with a National Association of Christian Athletes Division III title.

SPAIN PARK, BRIARWOOD FALL IN FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS

Spain Park and Briarwood both fell in the quarterfinal round of the AHSAA playoffs. The Jags lost to Gadsden City in Class 6A, while the Lions fell on the road to Spanish Fort.

December

PELHAM SENIORS SWEEP PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARDS

Pelham High School senior Ally Slaughter was named the 2009 Shelby County Reporter volleyball Player of the Year. The Panthers’ Jake Holland capped his senior season with football Player of the Year honors.