Eight county teams appear in first basketball poll

Published 12:33 pm Friday, December 11, 2015

Spain Park is the only No. 1 team in the county in the first ASWA basketball rankings of the 2015-16 season. (File)

Spain Park is the only No. 1 team in the county in the first ASWA basketball rankings of the 2015-16 season. (File)

By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor

In the first ASWA basketball poll of the 2014-15 season, there are six boys’ teams and a pair of girls’ teams that appear on the list. Spain Park, Thompson, Pelham, Montevallo, Vincent and Coosa Valley are represented on the boys’ lists while Thompson and Coosa Valley are also represented on the girls’ lists.

Spain Park is the lone No. 1 seed in the first poll. The Jaguars were 6-3 as of Dec. 10, with two of those losses coming in a prep tournament in Illinois against some of the top high school teams in the country. With Austin Wiley, Jamal Johnson and Justin Brown, the Jaguars have three Division I recruits on one roster and are one of the frontrunner to win the 7A state title this season.

The Lady Warriors from Thompson are the second highest-ranked county team at No. 3 in 7A. Thompson started out the season at 8-0 and beat Mountain Brook in the finals of the Spartan Thanksgiving Classic before falling to Hazel Green, the same team that knocked Thompson out of last years’ 7A state tournament. Senior Jordan LeNoir leads the Lady Warriors this year.

Montevallo, Vincent and the girls from Coosa Valley all came in at No. 4 in their respective polls. The Bulldogs had an 8-1 record as of Dec. 10 and have a number of offensive weapons capable of hurting opponents, with Tae’ Smith leading the way. Vincent is a different team this year than the one that went to the 2A Final Four last season, and have a bigger emphasis on post play this year with big men EJ Datcher and Wesley King banging down low. The Lady Rebels of Coosa Valley have been a pleasant surprise this season, and have been led for the most part by Denise Niven and Kalei Merrifield.

Pelham is currently the sixth-ranked team in class 6A, thanks primarily to the play of big man Alex Reese. Patrick Davis’ Warriors from Thompson have gotten off to a strong start at 6-3, and are the No. 7 team in 7A while the boys from Coosa Valley came in as the No. 10 team in the AISA.

Briarwood also received votes in the boys’ 6A poll and the Lady Lions, who were 8-1, were not on the list but most likely will break into the ranks in the future.