Basketball teams wrap up season with pride, growth

Published 1:41 pm Thursday, February 15, 2024

By Haley Mitchell Godwin, Daniya Jones, Ella-Kate Tomlin, Kaitlyn Piggott and Syloria James

Special to the Luverne Journal

The 2024 basketball season has come to an end for four Crenshaw County basketball teams.

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The Brantley Bulldogs fought fiercely against the McIntosh Demons on Feb. 10, in their last battle of the season. They fell short with a final score of 67-48. Despite the loss, Head Coach Andre Parks expressed pride in the team’s growth, resilience, and standout performances throughout the season.

“I’ve always believed that the goal of a team isn’t necessarily a championship,” Andre said. “Being the best team you can be all the time, and ending the season ahead of where you started as far as team chemistry and personal bests, is the most important thing and both teams did just that. I saw a tremendous amount of growth throughout the season and the boys and girls played their best basketball here at the end.”

Brantley’s Jayden Parks averaged 25 points per game for the season and ranked fifth in the state. He also averaged 4.5 assists per game, a handful of which went to Daylan Davis. Davis’s season average was 15 points per game and 12 rebounds. Davis also is ranked fifth in the state for double doubles with 17 on the season. 

Looking forward, Coach Parks emphasized the importance of passing the torch to the underclassmen, as the departing seniors leave behind a legacy of hard work and commitment. 

“We had a great group of seniors that will be missed and some big shoes to fill but I think the underclassmen are up for the challenge. The work to be great starts now.”

Senior Ja’hyia Oliver reflected on the season.

“Throughout the season I feel like the team grew closer and created a bond like family,” Oliver said. “I find it incredibly unreal how fast it went by being a senior can be bitter sweet and I’ll miss every single moment I had with this amazing team.”

The Brantley Varsity Girls played their final game of the season against Leroy on Feb. 10, which ended with a 45-31 defeat.

For the Flying Squadron girls, the season concluded on Feb. 9 with a 28-53 loss to Abbeville High School. Head Coach Justion Cope remained optimistic, emphasizing the team’s overall growth and the absence of seniors, which sets the stage for a more experienced squad next year.

“Overall, the girls  had a good season despite not seeing regionals this year,” Cope said. “We have a young team that’s only getting better with time. I didn’t have a senior this year, so that means we will be more experienced next year. The girls are working hard daily even after a disappointing sub-regional loss, so that’s enough reason to look forward to next year. I’m expecting a successful season next year with having the whole team returning.”

Highland Home School player Jameria Green shared her thoughts about the season.

“We had a great season, but there’s a lot we need to work on individually and together,” Green said. “We’re definitely coming back harder next season.”

The Luverne varsity boys’ basketball team experienced a 54-77 loss against Zion Chapel on Feb. 6, concluding the season with a record of 14-11. Head Coach Richard Dorsey acknowledged the team’s struggles with consistency throughout the season but commended the overall effort and dedication shown by the players.

“I believe that when these boys play hard, they can keep up with any team, but when they don’t, they could be beaten by any team,” Dorsey said. “Our biggest struggle through the season was inconsistency. Despite that, I am very satisfied with the overall effort and dedication shown by the boys throughout the season. Most of them have been part of the program since their 7th grade year, so as and as a whole, we share a special bond. I hope that through the years I have taught them not only the game of basketball, but life lessons and how to conduct themselves as young men.” 

Luverne senior Deontae Harris shared his sentiments, expressing gratitude for the special memories and camaraderie built throughout the season. 

“This season was very special to me, as well as my teammates,” Harris said. “Not only did we finish the season with a winning record, we also made unforgettable memories. Coach Dorsey made it clear throughout the season that he wanted us to bond as a team and to have chemistry on and off the court. Even though our season did not last as long as we all hoped, I am thankful for my teammates and coaches for making my last year so special. I feel that we have paved the way for future teams through our commitment.”