New coaches, favorites in tourney

Published 5:04 pm Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Chance for rest: Thorsby and Isabella will both receive byes in the first round of the Chilton County girls basketball tournament, which begins on Jan. 17.

This year’s girls Chilton County Basketball Tournament will be about anything but the same old familiar faces.

Last year’s champion, Maplesville, has yet to win a game this season.

The Red Devils’ opponent in the 2010 championship game, Thorsby, may be considered a darkhorse, but the tournament favorites could be Isabella and Jemison, two teams playing under first-year coaches (Jared Day and Stacy McGehee, respectively).

In fact, four of the tournament’s six teams next week will feature a new coach on the bench, with Deon Timmons at Chilton County High School and Jonathan Shedd at Verbena.

In what could have been a championship game preview, Jemison defeated Isabella, 41-35, on Tuesday in a back-and-forth contest.

It was Isabella’s second loss compared to nine wins this season.

JHS relies on the scoring of senior Kelsey Mims (16 points against Isabella) and classmate Tika Nunn (14 rebounds).

“The girls are getting a little confidence in themselves,” McGehee said. “There are signs of that, but then I’ll see signs that we still have a ways to go.”

Isabella, meanwhile, also relies disproportionately on two seniors: Whitney Smith and Amber Wyatt, both post players who can rebound and score.

But Day said the team’s success will ultimately depend on other players shouldering more of the load.

“I think everybody is starting to learn their role,” Day said. “I would like to see us play harder, with more effort, the whole time. We need to be more consistent with our effort—it’s there at times.”

No one should count out Thorsby, who along with Isabella will enjoy a first-round bye, because the Rebels have two players—Sharonda Cooper, The Clanton Advertiser’s reigning Player of the Year, and Amanda Hubbard—who can explode for a big scoring night any time they take the court.
Verbena and Chilton County play Monday, Jan. 10, with the winner facing Isabella on Thursday.

Jemison and Maplesville play Tuesday for the right to meet Thorsby on Friday.

The girls championship game will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday.

The tournament is being hosted by Maplesville, with games being played at CCHS.