County teams headed to ‘Sweet 16’

Published 2:04 pm Wednesday, February 14, 2024

The Highland Home School varsity boys’ and Luverne girls’ basketball teams have emerged as the sole representatives from the county, earning their spot in the Alabama High School Athletic Association South Regional basketball tournament. Both teams are gearing up to take on tough rivals in the semi-finals that will be held at the Garrett Coliseum in Montgomery Thursday.

The Luverne girls clinched their place in the “Sweet 16” following their triumph against the Ariton Purple Cats on Feb. 9 when they secured a 59-41 victory. Zyan Peterson led the charge with 25 points and 11 rebounds, while Nikayla Melton added ten points and secured eight rebounds. Amiracle Taylor contributed six points and six assists. KaeKae Dixon left her imprint on the game against the Purple Cats with five points, five assists, three steals and eight

Luverne junior M’Kayla Dawson said she is eagerly anticipating the game and the chance to apply the valuable experience her team has acquired over the season.

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“We’ve been putting in work every day and we’re happy that our hard work is finally paying off,” Dawson said. “Playing in the ‘Sweet 16’ means there are only 16 teams left, and we’re one of them, and that means a lot. I’m not concerned about anything because we’ve been clicking on the court like no other. With that being said, we plan to dominate Thursday then head to the Elite 8!”

Luverne coach Richard Dorsey acknowledged the challenges that his team may face on Thursday but he has faith in his players and said he is confident that they will bring their best to the semifinal game.

“I feel very good about the team getting back to the regionals,” Dorsey said. “We are healthy and have been playing pretty well. The girls should be proud of themselves for the hard work they’ve done. I think that one of our advantages will be that several of the players have been here before. So as long as the girls remember that they have what it takes and don’t let the moment get bigger than it is, we will be fine. This time of year all of the teams are good. So, the main challenge will be for us to limit our mistakes and to ensure we do the little things right, such as making free throws.”

The Squadron secured their spot in the semifinals with a 60-37 victory over Ariton High School on Feb. 10. Head coach Justin Cope expressed his confidence in the team.

“The team has been improving each week, and we finally have everyone back healthy and feeling good,” Cope said. “Many of the boys on the team have experienced these playoffs before, and I think we are going into this game well prepared, but more than anything, I am excited for our kids, and I hope they stay focused on the task at hand.”

Highland Home Senior Brice Mckenzie also expressed optimism as the team heads into the semi-finals.

“As a senior, it feels good being in the same position that I have been in previous years, but the job’s not finished,” Mckenzie said. “However, we have to stay focused and take one day at a time to reach our goal and finish the job.”

The anticipation is high as these two teams gear up for the ‘Sweet 16’ showdown, vying for a chance to advance to the next stage and make their mark on the state basketball scene.Cope and Dorsey encourage the community to rally behind these Crenshaw County teams and to come out and show your support for both on Thursday. 

The Lady Tigers (22-6) will face off against the Washington County Bulldogs (22-0) with the tip off at 6 p.m. 

The Squadron (18-7) will hit the court at 7:30 p.m. to take on St. Luke’s Episcopal (8-11). 

Admission for the games is $14, which includes parking and facility fees. Only clear bags will be allowed into the coliseum and they must not exceed 12” x 6” x 12”.