MIDDLE SCHOOL BASKETBALL: Aggies, Lady Aggies capture county championships

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The Fairview Aggies and Lady Aggies defeated Vinemont and Hanceville, respectively to win this year’s Cullman County Tournament Championships. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

WEST POINT, Ala. – This year’s Cullman County Middle School Basketball Tournament has been raging throughout the week and culminated with a pair of county championship games at West Point High School Saturday afternoon. The Fairview Aggies and Lady Aggies were both there to take on Vinemont and Hanceville, respectively and both were able to return home with county titles. The Lady Aggies got off to a fast start against Hanceville and went on to collect a 38-29 win and in the boys’ game, Fairview and Vinemont went back and forth in a tight battle that the Aggies were eventually able to pull away and win 29-24.

Fairview 38 – Hanceville 29 (Girls Championship Game)

Addison Phillips laid one in to give Fairview a 2-0 start in its game against Hanceville and Brooklyn Merriman stretched the lead to 5-0 after hitting a jumper, taking a foul and adding the free throw. Merriman’s next shot was from three-point range and put the Lady Aggies up 8-0 early in the opening period. Alex Twitty scored to get Hanceville on the board and make it an 8-2 game and La’Miya Miller added a pair of free throws to trim the lead to 9-4 later in the first. That’s when Merriman buried another three-pointer to give Fairview a 12-4 advantage, but McKenzie Aaron was able to score just before the end of the quarter to make it a 12-6 game going into the second.

Kailyn Redding’s first basket of the afternoon extended the lead to 14-6 early in the second quarter but after Miller and Phillips exchanged free throws, Ava Glenon drilled a three for Hanceville to cut the lead to 15-10 with two minutes remaining in the first half. Redding split a pair of free throws with less than 20 seconds on the clock and the Lady Aggies went into the locker room with a 16-10 lead at the break.

Fairview got off to a fast start in the second half as well, pulling ahead 22-10 after baskets from Oaklyn Gardner, Phillips and Maci Gregory. Twitty scored to stop the run and trim the lead to 10 but Redding knocked down a jumper on the other end to build the lead back up to 24-12 midway through the period. A basket by Miller and a three-pointer from Mattie Keith made it a 24-17 game late in the third but another score from Redding in the final moments of the quarter put Fairview in front 26-17 going into the final frame.

Another basket by Phillips kept the Lady Aggies ahead 29-19 and she scored another strong basket under the rim to maintain a 31-22 lead with three minutes to play. Aaron laid one in to cut the lead to 31-24 and Miller turned a steal into an easy basket for the Lady Bulldogs to make it a 31-26 game. Gardner netted a pair of free throws with less than two minutes on the clock to put Fairview ahead 33-26 but Twitty split a pair of free throws and Isabella Spinks scored inside to bring the lead down to 33-29 with 40 seconds remaining. However, the Lady Aggies were able to put the game away at the free throw line. Merriman was fouled on a three-point attempt, and she drained all three from the line to make it a 36-29 game. Gardner and Redding each added free throws in the final moments of the game and Fairview went on to claim their second straight county title with a 38-29 win over Hanceville.

Merriman led the Lady Aggies with 12 points in the win. Phillips finished with 10, Redding added nine, Gardner posted five and Gregory scored two. Miller led the way for the Lady Bulldogs with nine points in the loss, followed by Twitty with eight, Aaron with four, Keith and Glenon with three and Cierra Merriweather with two.

2022 All-County Middle School Girls Team

La’Miya Miller, Hanceville

Avan Glenon, Hanceville

Alex Twitty, Hanceville

Mattie Keith, Hanceville

Kailyn Redding, Fairview

Brooklyn Merriman, Fairview

Addison Phillips, Fairview

Madeline Hill, Holly Pond

Audrey Blocker, Holly Pond

Kaydance Williams, Cold Springs

Keiarah Fanning, Cold Springs

Mary Beth Penn, West Point

Arleigh Thomason, Vinemont

Syler Hayes, Parkside

Jordan Sanders, Good Hope

Fairview 29 – Vinemont 24 (Boys Championship Game)

Vinemont’s Will Conquest scored the first basket of the game to give the Eagles an early, 2-0 lead but Cal Collins answered with an and-one play on the other end for Fairview to put the Aggies in front 3-2. Bryson Bush split a pair of free throws to tie things up at 3 and that score held for most of the first quarter until Connor Scott took a steal the other way for an easy basket to give Fairview a 5-3 lead going into the second quarter.

EJ Sharpe drained a three-pointer to take a 6-5 lead for the Eagles, but the Aggies responded with a quick score from Camden Cullen to go back on top 7-6. Bush finished an and-one play at the line to put Vinemont back in front 9-7 with four minutes remaining in the first half and another basket by Conquest maintained an 11-8 lead for the Eagles later in the quarter. Collins scored inside to trim the lead to 11-10 but Bush laid another one in with just 15 seconds on the clock to give Vinemont a 13-10 lead at the halftime break.

A quick basket from Scott and a three-pointer by Cullen put Fairview back in front 15-13 early in the third. Collins scored another basket to stretch the lead to 17-13 but Sam Marsh answered with a three on the other end to stop the run and cut the lead to 17-16. Sharpe drained a pair of free throws to retake an 18-17 lead for the Eagles, but Collins turned a steal into an easy layup and put the Aggies back in front 19-18 with one minute to play in the third quarter. Tucker Screws put one in for Fairview to make it a 21-18 game and after Josh Rhodes trimmed the lead to one with a basket on the other end, Scott buried a three-pointer at the buzzer to extend the Aggies’ lead to 24-20 going into the fourth quarter.

Collins and Conquest exchanged buckets to make it a 26-22 game with a little over two minutes to play and Bush scored inside for Vinemont to cut the lead to 26-24 with just one minute remaining. Collins split a pair of free throws to put Fairview up 27-24 with 40 seconds on the clock and the Aggies got the last couple of stops they needed to keep the Eagles off the board. Cullen drained a pair of free throws in the final seconds to wrap up a 29-24 victory for Fairview.

Collins led the Aggies with 12 points in the win, followed by Cullen with eight, Scott with seven and Screws with two. Bush led the way for Vinemont with eight points in the loss. Conquest posted six, Sharpe finished with five, Marsh added three and Rhodes scored two.

2022 All-County Middle School Boys Team

Bailey Gann, West Point

J.J. Minck, West Point

Teagan Heaton, West Point

Nolan Franklin, West Point

Connor Scott, Fairview

Calin Collins, Fairview

Eli St. Denny, Fairview

Josh Rhodes, Vinemont

Will Conquest, Vinemont

Bryson Bush, Vinemont

Ayden Young, Good Hope

Parker Johnson, Good Hope

Connor Duncan, Parkside

Chris Diaz, Parkside

Ethan Day, Cold Springs

McCain Smith, Cold Springs

Landon Posey, Holly Pond

Brycen Harris, Hanceville

Sawyer Harris, Harmony

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