PREP BASKETBALL: A look back at a memorable 2020/21 season

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Good Hope’s Tanner Malin (11), Cold Springs’ Seth Williams (12) and Fairview’s Daisy Manasco (10). (Bill Piper/The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. — The 2020-2021 basketball season wasn’t your typical season as COVID-19 limited seating at the games and provided distractions across the state, but all things considered, everything went smooth and according to plan. There were some amazing contests that went on during the year and some incredible seasons by several local teams. 

Addison: Girls (12-13, Winston County Champions) – Boys (17-14, Winston County Champions)

Addison’s varsity girls started the season with a new head coach: Bailey West, who was the perfect fit for this young, but experienced squad. It was an up-and-down year for the Lady Bulldogs, but they had some great games and some key wins, including huge wins over Meek and Winston County (OT) to take home the Winston County Championship. Addison’s season ended in the first round of the area tournament to Falkville, 69-61, to finish the year at 12-13, and with everyone coming back for coach West next season, expect a big year for the Lady Bulldogs in 2021-2022.

The Addison Bulldogs improved a lot under second-year head coach Ben Mastin and brought back a lot of experience, including Logan Wilkins and Eli Howse, to name a few. They collected some huge wins during the season, including victories over Falkville and a Christian Roberts game-winning shot gave Addison a big win on the road at Cold Springs. Like the girls, the Bulldogs defeated Winston County and won a thriller against Meek to take home the Winston County Championship. The boys got the top seed in the area tournament, but got upset by Winston County, 47-46, and they finished the campaign at 17-14. They had a great season, and with six seniors graduating, some new players will look to step up and fill some huge shoes in 2021-2022.

Cold Springs: Girls (19-8, Area Champions) – Boys (22-6, County Champions and Area Champions)

The Cold Springs Lady Eagles lost some key pieces from last year’s Class 2A runner-up team that lost to Collinsville in the title game, but they still returned a lot of key players, including Toni West, Shay Sellers, Lacey Rice, and Brooke Crider, to name a few. After getting off to a little bit of a rocky start, Cold Springs started to get it going as they went on a nine-game winning streak, including big wins over Good Hope and Falkville. The Lady Eagles rolled past Winston County and then took down Falkville in an overtime battle to take home the Class 2A, Area 13 championship. They eased past Sulligent in its Sub-Regional game before falling at home to Hatton, 65-46, in the NW Regional Semifinals as they finished with a 19-8 record. With some huge pieces graduating, Coach Tammy West will look to a really young, but determined, squad to make some noise in 2021-2022.

This season will be one that Cold Springs fans will never forget. What made things even better is that they brought back a lot of key players in 2020-2021, including Adam Hill, Brody Peppers, Tanner Kilgo, Micah Calvert, and Roberto Ayala. They started the season out strong, going 6-2 and that included a huge basket just before the buzzer by Peppers to stun Good Hope on the road. The Eagles just got better and better as the season went along and they rolled past Vinemont 50-34 in the Cullman County Semi-Final game before taking down the two-time county champion Raiders 53-48 to win its first county title since 2014. Cold Springs then took down Falkville and Winston County to capture the area championship. They defeated Aliceville in the Sub-Regional game before falling to Hatton, 54-48 in the NW Regional Semifinals and they finished the year with an incredible 22-6 mark. The Eagles will lose five players to graduation and will have some players coming back, along with some young talent, as they will look to have another special season in 2021-2022.

Cullman: Girls (15-11) – Boys (13-9)

The Cullman Lady Bearcats looked to make some noise in 2020-2021 with a young, but experienced squad led by Hannah Hoffman and Regan Quattlebaum. They picked up some key wins during the season over Austin and Huntsville and played in a very tough area that included Hartselle and Muscle Shoals. Cullman played some of the best teams on their schedule pretty good despite falling to them. The Lady Bearcats won the West Morgan Christmas Tournament championship over Good Hope, 52-46. They rolled past Hayden and Hanceville to end the regular season strong but ended up falling to Muscle Shoals in the first round of the area tournament to finish with a 15-11 record. The Lady Bearcats will lose Hoffman and Emma Ray to graduation, but they will have a lot of young, talented players coming back in 2021-2022 and they will look to get keep better and better under head coach Josh Hembree.

The Cullman Bearcats brought back a lot of key players and a lot of veteran players, led by Nic Glass, Tucker and Max Gambrill, and Kaleb Heatherly, looked to lead the way for what would be coach Bobby Meyer’s last season as the head coach. The Bearcats started out 4-1, which included tough wins over Austin and Lincoln County. But they went through a little bit of a rough stretch, dropping three in a row at one point. Cullman quickly righted the shift, going 4-1 in their final five games and looked to add another area title to coach Meyer’s resume, but it wasn’t to be as Muscle Shoals ended the Bearcats’ season early, 60-50, as they finished with a 13-9 mark. Cullman will lose just three seniors to graduation, and whoever is named the new head coach will have a lot of experienced players coming back in 2021-2022 in hopes of having a breakout season.

Fairview: Girls (17-10, Area Runner-Up, County Champions) – Boys (5-15)

The Fairview Lady Aggies looked to keep up its recent success under head coach Justin Billings. They picked up some huge wins over Cold Springs, West Point and Guntersville and they also won the county title as they took down last year’s county champions, West Point, 50-47. The Lady Aggies looked to add the area title to its resume as well, but they fell just short to Guntersville, 50-33. They made some noise during the postseason, getting by Boaz in the Sub-Regional game before falling to Ramsay in the Sweet 16, finishing with a 17-10 mark. It marked the last game for four seniors: Maddie Yeager, Daisy Manasco, Molly McKelvy, and Jacy Gorham, and they will be sorely missed at Fairview. The Lady Aggies will have some young talent coming back in hopes of making some more noise in 2021-2022.

The Aggies looked to take that next big step in 2020-2021, but it was a struggle the whole season as they finished with a 5-15 record. They did pick up wins over Holly Pond, Brindlee Mountain, and Phil Campbell. Five seniors will graduate from this team: Jack Brown, Peyton Bailey, Aaron Carpenter, Preston Ryan and Clayton Strane, and coach David Martin will look to a young, talented squad to get Fairview back on track next year.

Good Hope: Girls (25-10, Area Champions, Elite Eight) – Boys (23-8, Area Champions)

After going from five to 18 wins last year under first-year head coach Justin Aby, the Good Hope Lady Raiders brought back a very young, but talented squad who looked to make their own mark this season. They won six in a row early in the year as they held a 7-2 record after November. Good Hope went through a little bit of a tough stretch, falling to three great teams in Oneonta, Cold Springs, and West Point, but they quickly got back on track after that and ended the season by rolling past Dora, 69-53. The Lady Raiders rolled past Curry at home and then took down Oneonta on the road, 40-29, to win the Class 4A, Area 11 title. They routed Haleyville in the Sub-Regional game and after trailing 70-54 in its NW Regional match-up against no. 5 Deshler, Good Hope staged a miraculous comeback to stun the Lady Tigers in overtime, 79-76. But their Cinderella run ended in the Elite Eight to no. 4 Rogers as they finished the year with an incredible 25-10 mark, and everyone will be back next season in hopes of making an even deeper run.

After graduating 95% of their scoring from last season, Good Hope looked to some new faces in hopes of keeping their recent success alive. The Raiders started its season 6-0 and despite going through a rough stretch, they got back on track and behind Tanner Malin, Noah Barnette, Colton Lindsey, and Lawton Farr, they got some huge games from those four, along with K’mal Bell, who came off the bench, along with Michael Owens, Ethan Anderson, and Eli Pugh. Good Hope won their final three regular season games and continued that momentum into the area tournament, where they rolled past Hanceville and they squeaked past Oneonta to win the area title. Their season would end in the Sub-Regional game to Hamilton and Good Hope finished with a 23-8 mark. The Raiders will lose Farr, Pugh, and Owens to graduation and will look to a veteran squad to make it even deeper into the postseason.

Hanceville: Girls (5-20) – Boys (5-13)

The Hanceville Lady Bulldogs had a new head coach to start out the season: Tim Bellmon. He brought a defensive mind-set to Hanceville and the Lady Bulldogs, despite finishing 5-20, stayed close in some ball games this season due to their defense. They picked up wins over Curry, Corner, Hueytown and Vinemont. Cassidy Campbell and Jessica Thompson are the only two seniors on the teams and coach Bellmon will have a lot of great, young talent coming back in hopes of seeing his team get better and better next season.

After losing some great talent from last year’s team that made it to the Final Four, Hanceville looked to some young players to build off of what happened last year. It wasn’t meant to be as the Bulldogs finished the season at 5-13 and four of those wins came against Vinemont, Fairview, Curry and Holly Pond. The Bulldogs will lose only Izayah Glenon to graduation and will look to see their younger players get better and better next season in 2021-2022.

Holly Pond: Girls (7-18) – Boys (2-20)

The Holly Pond Lady Broncos looked to make another postseason run in 2020-2021, but it didn’t quite happen for them as they finished with a 7-18 record and the area runner-up. The Lady Broncos dropped its Sub-Regional game to Winfield, and they will lose Sarah Finley and Tate Duke to graduation. But Holly Pond will have some veteran players coming back in hopes of making some noise in 2021-2022.

It was a long season for the Holly Pond Broncos as they finished with a 2-20 record and those wins came against Susan Moore and Hanceville. Holly Pond will lose seven seniors to graduation and will look to see some of its younger talent grow more and more each day in hopes of a better season in 2021-2022.

Meek: Girls (15-10) – Boys (17-8)

The Meek Lady Tigers got off to a very strong start in 2020-2021, going 10-3 in their first 13 games and they finished as the Class 1A, Area 12 runner-up to Marion County. Meek made a deep run in the postseason, knocking off Lynn and R.A. Hubbard to advance to the Elite Eight before falling to Marion County, 58-30, to finish with a 15-10 mark. The Lady Tigers will lose four key seniors to graduation and will look to build off of this next season.

The Meek Tigers got off to a 4-1 start and reeled off six straight wins late in the season to put them at 10-2. They went 3-2 in their final five regular season games and knocked off Brilliant and Lynn to take home the area title before falling to Holy Spirit Catholic in the Sub-Regional game to finish with a 17-8 record. The Tigers will lose three seniors to graduation and will look to get better and better next season in hopes of a deeper playoff run.

Vinemont: Girls (5-20) – Boys (9-17)

The Vinemont Lady Eagles improved a little bit in 2020-2021, going 5-20 with wins against Westminster Christian, Hanceville, St. Bernard, and East Lawrence County. With only three seniors graduating from this year’s squad, coach James Brown will have a young, but talented team next season in hopes of getting not only a few more wins, but maybe a spot in the postseason.

The Vinemont Eagles improved a lot under head coach Preston Boyd in 2020-2021 as they went 9-17, picking up wins over St. Bernard, Hanceville, Falkville, Athens Bible, and Holly Pond. With a huge chunk of the roster graduating in May, some younger talent will look to fill some huge shoes and get even better in 2021-2022.

West Point: Girls (15-11, Area Runner-Up) – Boys (17-11, Area Runner-Up)

The West Point Lady Warriors looked to keep things going their way after losing a ton of seniors from last season. They started out 4-2 and after that, they went back-and-forth, going 11-9 the rest of the way. West Point finished as the Class 5A, Area 15 runner-up to Lawrence County and they closed out its season with a 78-35 loss to Mae Jemison in the Sub-Regional game. Lexi Shadix will be a huge loss for West Point, and they will look to fill her shoes next season with some younger talent and some great players coming back in 2021-2022.

West Point got off to a blazing start in 2020, winning their first six games of the season and they won four in a row late in the season before going 2-4 in their final six contests. The Warriors finished as the Class 5A, Area 15 runner-up to Russellville and wound up dropping its Sub-Regional game to Lee, 83-41, to finish the season at 17-11. West Point will lose a lot of key pieces to graduation, including 1,000-point scorers Kobe Bowers and Will Cochran, along with Carter Thornton and Aubry Cleghorn. They will look to fill some huge shoes and build off of this success next season.

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