Bulldog season ends in AHSAA South Regional championship game

Published 7:39 am Thursday, March 2, 2023

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

The Brantley School varsity boys basketball team played an impressive basketball season this year, but the season came to an untimely end in the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) South Regional championship game against the Florala Wildcats on Feb. 21. The Bulldogs fell to the Wildcats by a score of 58-46, despite their best efforts to come back in the second half.

Brantley Coach Andre Parks expressed his gratitude for the supportive school administrators and teachers who helped make Brantley basketball successful. With such great players, coaches, and support systems in place, Parks said there the Bulldogs will be back even stronger next season.

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“The season didn’t end the way we wanted it to but this team lived up to the high expectations that come along with playing basketball at Brantley,” Parks said. “We had a great group of seniors who will be missed and I also feel like Brantley is blessed with a great group of assistants that are knowledgeable and care about the kids and care about them on and off the court. Great players, caring and knowledgeable coaches, supportive school administrators and teachers is what makes Brantley basketball a special place.”

Sophomore Jayden parks and freshmen Jackson Mitchel receive a second quarter pep talk from head coach Andre Parks.

The game started off in Florala’s favor, with the Wildcats establishing an early 16-8 lead in the first quarter. Florala players pushed the tempo and attacked the offensive glass, putting the Bulldogs in a hole.

Brantley struggled with poor shooting in the first period, making it difficult for them to catch up. Although the Bulldogs renewed their effort in the second half, there was no great second quarter run to propel them to victory like in previous games.

Florala continued their success into the second quarter, and their 32-19 halftime lead was punctuated by scoring 8 out of 11 shots from the free throw line.

The Bulldogs came out in the second half with renewed intensity, and Jon Harper Kilcrease opened the half with a 3-point shot. Brantley’s defense also picked up the pace to cut Florala’s lead by 8 points to 38-30.

The Bulldogs trimmed the Wildcat lead again, down to 40-34, with 6:48 minutes left in the fourth period with a basket by Kedric Brown. After that, the Brantley team could not get any closer and Florala went on to push the final margin to 12 points at 58-46.

Rayshon Colemans led the Wildcats with 29 points and 6 rebounds, including 13 of 16 points made from the free throw line. Christian Greasham also finished with 10 points for the Wildcats.

The Bulldogs were led by Jayden Parks with 17 points and 4 rebounds, and Kedric Brown who gained 16 points and 9 rebounds. However, the Bulldogs were outrebounded 45-31 in the loss and shot just 27% from the field.

Overall, Brantley gained a 27-4 record. Although the season ended without a Bulldog championship win they had hoped for,fans and players said the team can still be proud of their accomplishments and the effort they put in throughout the season.

After the game, Parks acknowledged that the season didn’t end the way the team wanted it to, but said he was proud of what the team had accomplished.

He also pointed out that the Bulldogs had lived up to some high expectations when playing basketball at Brantley. They were able to achieve several of their goals, he explained, including being Class 1A, Area 2 champions and reaching the “Elite 8,” winning the Pea River tournament in Elba, finishing with an impressive record of 27-4, undefeated in the Tony Stallworth Invitational.

Parks emphasized the importance of playing for the name on the front of the jersey and making their family, community, school, and team proud. He credited the team’s success to a great group of seniors who will be missed, as well as a knowledgeable and caring group of assistant coaches.

Brantley sophomore Jayden Parks said the Bulldogs lost to a really good team during the Alabama High School Athletic Association South Regional championship game, but noted they had a great year. Pictured are senior T.J. Staley, Parks, and sophomore John Harper Kilcrease.

Jon Harper Kilcrease said he was happy to make this run with his team and added that he would not trade his basketball days for anything, despite any losses.

“It was a great season,” Kilcrease said “I’m sad that my time with the seniors is ending, but I’m looking forward to next year for another round with my brothers.”