Black Belt hoopsters named to state All-Star squad

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Demopolis isn’t the only Black Belt school still basking in the glow of a state title. Fans of Greene County High and Sumter County High will be quick to point out that those schools took home state basketball championships this past spring, and recently several players and coaches on those teams have been rewarded with All-Star recognition.

The Alabama High School Athletic Association recently announced its North-South All-Star basketball teams to take part in the AHSAA’s Alabama All-Stars Sports Week, July 11-15 in Huntsville. Taking part as part of the South All-Star team will be two members of Green County’s 4A state champions, forward Howard Crawford and center Curtis Nickson. Greene County head coach Rodney Wesley will join them in Huntsville as part of the South All-Stars coaching staff.

“We’re very excited,” says Wesley. “You know something, since they’ve been playing, since they were freshmen, I thought I was coaching guys that could make an All-Star team. Good things come with hard work. They’ve worked hard, and now good things have come to them.”

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Howard, a quick and versatile forward who averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds a game, and Nickson, one of the state’s best shot-blockers at nearly 5 swats a game and good for 12 points and 12 boards a contest, led Greene County to the state title with strong performances at the state Final Four in Birmingham. The pair averaged a collective 32 points and a whopping 13 rebounds over the two games as the Tigers controlled the glass to knock off Deshler and Southside-Selma.

Wesley admitted he didn’t fully understand the process behind his own selection as a South All-Star coach, but was more than happy to accept the honor.

“I think the coaches who won the state titles were the top nominees, but I’m not sure. As long as I was selected, I’m not going to worry about it!” he says with a laugh.

Nickson and Wesley weren’t the only Black Belt players recognized, however. Two players from Sumter County schools, Sumter County High’s Larry Foster and Livingston’s Roland Fitch, will also take part in the All-Star festivities.

Foster played a key role in his Wildcat team returning to Sumter County with its second consecutive 3A state championship. A slashing forward, Foster scored 22 and 24 points to lead SCHS to a 59-54 semifinal win over Danville and a 76-60 victory over Hayneville in the state finals.

Fitch’s Livingston team couldn’t get past Greene County to make it to Birmingham for a second straight year, but it hasn’t obscured what the 6’6″ power forward was able to accomplish on the court this past season.

“We’re very proud of him,” says Livingston head coach Kenneth Threadgill, who points out that Fitch is only the latest in a string of Livingston players to be named to the state’s All-Star teams. “It reflects well on our program.”

Fitch used his athletic frame to power his way to an average of 23 points and 9 rebounds a game, numbers that grabbed the eyes of the AHSAA’s selection committee.

“We’ve worked him hard,” Threadgill says, “but he also has a lot of talent.”

Selected to coach the South boys are Rodney Wesley of Greene County and John Davis of Mary Montgomery.

South boys team members are Xavier Carroll of Autaugaville, T.J. Green of Calera, Louis Dale of Altamont, Terry Fields of Headland, Howard Crawford and Curtis Nickson of Greene County, Roland Fitch of Livingston, Jamarr Sanders of Jeff Davis;

Asim McQueen and LaNorris Smith of Auburn, Larry Foster of Sumter County, Cornelius Hester of Shaw, Johnny Mahanne of LeFlore, Cortez Cotton of Shelby County, and Jeffery Anderson of Southside-Selma.