Bob Jones and Sparkman head for state championships
Record Managing Editor
Two Madison County basketball teams are on their way to the Magic City today hoping to come home as state champions.
The Bob Jones Patriots got a huge win this past weekend in Hanceville to become the Northwest Regional 6A champions.
Meanwhile, the Sparkman Lady Senators are looking to capture a second straight state title win in Birmingham.
Both teams are now two games away from victory.
At the Tom Drake Coliseum in Hanceville, Bob Jones defeated second-ranked Parker 61-57 for the regional title. Jordan Howell made 8-of-11 shots, including 4-of-6 3-pointers and 6-of-6 free throws to finish with 26 points. Trey Butler made 8-of-11 free throws for 18 points, while Fernandez Lockett had 12 rebounds and five steals.
Bob Jones (29-5) will now advance to the state semifinals, to be played at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center. There, they will play third-ranked Vigor on Thursday. The winner of that game will play the winner of No. 1 John Carroll vs. No. 4 Central-Phenix City.
On Monday, Coach Dan Bell said he's proud of his team and they plan to go into tomorrow's game against Vigor with confidence.
"This is a special group of guys and they all have a great work ethic and talent," Bell said. "They've proven themselves all year that they are a team that works together. We need to stay focused on our game and stay within our comfort zone in order to win. To go to Birmingham is an honor. It shows that we've worked together to get to where we are now."
Up the road from Bob Jones, the Lady Senators are eager to capture a second straight state title in Birmingham after defeating 10th-ranked Hillcrest 59-37.
The Lady Senators will play McGill-Toolen on Thursday at 9 a.m.
In Hanceville, Sparkman had 21 steals, forced 27 turnovers, and held a 38-24 rebounding advantage over Hillcrest. Latoya Barclay finished the game with 17 points, including three 3-pointers on four attempts, had six steals, four assists and four rebounds.
Tiffany Benford had 16 points, five rebounds and four assists. Meme Moore had 11 points, four rebounds and four steals. Morgan Chatman had seven rebounds and Tunisha Clay had four steals.
Coach June Seals said being so close to a second state title is wonderful.
"We worked very hard and knew that we still had a chance to get back to the final four and win back-to-back state championships," Seals said. "These girls have worked very hard."
On Monday and Tuesday, Seals said the team went over its full court press and shooting drills before leaving for Birmingham. Seals said it's going to take good defense to win.
"We don't need to turn over the ball as much, have great defense and not as many free throws in order to win," Seals said. "Our team is quick. We've got good shooters and we play hard. Those are our strengths going into tomorrow's game."
The championship games will be played on Saturday.