One 1A team’s season will come to an end Friday
Blame it on Lady Luck says Warrior Academy head basketball coach Rob Hall, for she is the only reason why the 15-7 Braves finished the regular season in a three way tie for the title of area champions at (6-2) and head into the West Area II Class 1A Tournament this weekend as the third seed.
In West Area II Class 1A the 2003-2004 basketball season finished with a three-way area tie between the Central Christian Academy Warriors, the Marion Military Institute (MMI) Tigers and the Warrior Academy Braves. With each team finishing the season with an (6-2) area record and each team having split wins amongst each other at 1-1, the deciding factor in the matter came down to a shiny American made quarter.
In the AISA there are four regions (West Area I, West Area II, East Area I, East Area II) for each of the three classes (Class IA, Class 2A, Class 3A).
And in basketball each area winner from the four regions not only receives the honor of being named the area champion, but also an automatic bid to the Final 8 in Montgomery.
The other four teams going to Montgomery will have to earn their ticket with a strong performance at the area tournament. Only the top two teams from each area moves to the next round. In other words, that’s one coin toss that no one wants to lose. “It was a very important coin toss that had an entire season riding on it, ” Hall said.
But for the Braves, Lady Luck was nowhere to be found when the coin hit the ground and now the Braves must form a war-party and fight to reclaim what was taken from them, just another feather in the hat for the tragic tale of the American Indian.
The season now comes down to one game for the No. 3 seed Braves. A win Friday night against the Central Christian Warriors will result in a trip to Montgomery, but a loss will bring the season to an end.
“It’s sad to think that our season comes down to just one game, but what can you do,” hall said. “We are up against a very tough opponent, but we have beat them before.”
The Braves traveled to Selma for the first match-up with the Warriors and lost 62-50, but when the Warriors came to Eutaw it was the Braves who came out ahead with a 47-44 win.
“We played it their way the first time we met and played it our way in the second meeting,” Hall said. “Our way is better.”
The Braves are known to be big and physical with a good defense, while the Warriors are small and quick and know how to put points on the board.
“I know for a fact that they have had at least two games this season where they have scored over 100 points,” Hall said. “They are good at what they do.”
Tee Woods leads the Warriors offense, averaging 20 points per game and is considered to be one of the best point guards in the AISA.
“He scored 30 points in our first game with them and 26 points in the second game,” Hall said. “In my opinion he is one of the best AISA players in the state.”
The Braves may not have any standout players like Woods on their bench, but they prefer it that way.
“We have balance on this team,” Hall said.
“There is no one player that stands out over the others. It’s more about team.”
The Braves don’t have many weaknesses in their game, which is driven by a tough man-to-man defense that only gives up an average of 43 points per game. Offensively, the Braves are careful with the ball, averaging 8 turnovers per game, and are well balanced with their scoring.
Junior Ivan Cade leads the Braves averaging 11.9 points per game with 9.8 rebounds per game. Junior forward Devon Manley follows closely behind Cade, averaging 11.6 points per game and 9.6 rebounds per game. And senior point guard Jamichael Thompson sits in three spot averaging 11.2 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game.
Along with MMI, these three teams represent the finest talent in Class 1A basketball. But come Friday night one of these three great teams’ season will unfortunately come to an end, but thanks to the luck of the draw, one of those teams will not be MMI.