Shelby County has 4 in the running for Mr. and Miss Basketball

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

The postseason basketball awards just won’t come to an end for several Shelby County athletes as four of them have been named finalists for the ASWA Player of the Year award, also known as Mr. and Miss Basketball of Alabama.

Each of these four finalists, one girl and three boys, will not only be in the running for the ultimate player of the year award, but also for the best player in their respective classification.

Starting off in 7A, Spain Park was one of only four schools to have both a girls and boys player be named a finalist in their respective classifications as Jamal Johnson and Claire Holt were considered one of the three best 7A players in the state.

Johnson is facing some tough competition with Mountain Brook’s Trendon Watford and Auburn’s Garrison Brooks, both finalist as well. Those two led their respective teams to the Final Four, but Johnson did go 1-1 against Watford during the regular season.

He averaged 24.8 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game, while also leading the Jaguars to wins over No. 1 Mountain Brook, No. 2 Hoover and No. 3 Huffman in a two-week span as part of his impressive senior season.

Holt also had a strong season averaging 17.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game as she helped lead Spain Park to the state championship game where they lost to Hoover. She was arguably the most important player for her team this season.

She is going up against Zipporah Broughton of Lee-Montgomery and Haley Troup of Gadsden City. All are extremely important to their teams, but only one was able to make it to a state championship.

Alabama commit Alex Reese is also a finalist and has a good chance to be the 6A player of the year. Reese finished his senior season at Pelham averaging a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds. He helped the Panthers sit atop the 6A standings for the majority of the season before falling by four in the Elite 8 to eventual state champion Paul Bryant.

The other two 6A finalists include Hazel Green’s Kira Lewis and Austin High School’s Javan Johnson, who was the only one of the three to make a Final Four appearance.

The final of the four representatives comes from Montevallo High School as Da’Shaunte Smith was considered one of the three best 3A players this year, and for good reason. The senior came close to a quadruple-double twice this season and triple-doubles on several occasions.

He had by far one of the best stat lines in the county and state, averaging 20.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.1 blocks per game. He is in tough company with two players from the dreaded Midfield team that knocked the Bulldogs out rather handily in the Elite 8. Those two players would be Shy Cunningham and impressive freshman Kam Woods.

Midfield was able to go on and win the state championship behind those two players, especially Woods, who put up a combined 96 points over the Patriots’ last three games. None the less, Smith led Montevallo to 25 wins this season and a spot inside the top 5 of the rankings pretty much the entire year.

The awards banquet will be held April 4 in Montgomery at the Renaissance hotel.