Tigers win third-straight county tournament crown
Published 1:01 pm Monday, January 8, 2024
By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor
Chilton County High School won its third consecutive varsity boys Chilton County Basketball Tournament championship taking down Jemison High School 63-43 on Jan. 6.
The Tigers were led by the tournament’s most valuable player Justin Godwin with 16 points on 7-for-12 shooting, nine rebounds, six steals and four assists. Five other players scored at least six points for CCHS as well — D.J. Caffey, Logan Coppedge, Eli Dale, Cayden Meank and Marshall Thornhill, with Caffey leading the group with nine points.
The Tigers handled the Panthers 53-20 in the team’s first meeting of the season on Dec. 4, but Jemison showed a short memory and jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead to start the game after 3-pointers from Elijah Harris and Luke Gann. CCHS took its first lead later in the first quarter at 9-8 after a 3-pointer from Meank, but it was the Panthers who held the slim 10-9 lead after the opening frame.
Gann was the leading scorer for Jemison tallying 14 points, followed by A.J. Ford with 10 points.
“We played hard, and credit to Jemison they were ready to play,” Chilton County head coach Austin Moncus said. “This was our third one in a row, so it is big for our program. We have a lot of kids that are in our program that did not play a lot of minutes, and we lost a lot of seniors and players from last year, so our whole year everyone has stepped up and played hard.”
In the second quarter, CCHS took control and a 3-pointer from Caffey stretched the advantage to 22-14. The Tigers led by as many as 12 points in the quarter, but a jumper from Trenton Gaines before halftime made it a 10-point game at the break, 28-18. Gaines had seven points for Jemison.
CCHS kept their foot on the throttle coming out of halftime and started the half on an 8-0 run to take its largest lead of the game at 36-18 with 5:39 left in the quarter.
Jemison took a timeout to stop the momentum, and from there, the Panthers outscored the Tigers 20-6 the rest of the quarter to storm back into the game. Layups from C.J. Kidd, Ford and Gann cut the deficit to four points, and another 3-pointer from Gann as time expired kept the difference at four, 42-38, entering the fourth quarter.
“I think we played well, but the thing that cost us were turnovers. We started out and jumped on them at first, then they battled back like the good team they are and we let them back in the game,” Jemison head coach James Nabors said. “We got down about 18 points, and our boys showed their resilience and they fought their tails off, and we cut the lead to four and the turnovers right after that changed the momentum.”
The game remained close throughout the first half of the final quarter, but the Tigers took advantage of those turnovers, and two straight layups by Godwin pushed the lead back to double digits to secure the win.
Dale added five steals, assists and rebounds each to his totals for CCHS, and Thornhill had six rebounds and four blocks.
“Before the county tournament we had lost six in a row, but I have just been preaching to our guys to just keep showing up and working, and they did,” Moncus said. “Every game we have really been in, and we start area play on Tuesday with Calera, another good team. Everyone in our area is tough, and (Class) 6A is tough as it is, so hopefully we can build off this momentum and carry it into area play and start that strong.”
CCHS hosts Calera High School on Jan. 9 in their next matchup at 7 p.m. to get their AHSAA Class 6A Area 5 Schedule underway.
Jemison now sits at 8-7 on the season in Nabors first season as head coach, which matches their win total from the 2022-2023 season. Nabors said he wants his team to use their performance in the county tournament as a building block for themselves, and for the program.
“I am so proud of these boys,” Nabors said. “We came from eight wins all of last year, and we are already at eight right now. We are going to keep getting better and better, and the confidence in the boys is sky high. We are here to stay, and we are going to keep coming.”
Jemison hosts Oak Grove High School on Jan. 9 to open their post-county tournament schedule at 6:30 p.m.
2024 All-County Tournament Team
Justin Godwin, Chilton County High School (MVP)
Eli Dale, Chilton County High School
D.J. Caffey, Chilton County High School
Luke Gann, Jemison High School
A.J. Ford, Jemison High School
Aiden Seeley, Thorsby High School
Braxton Price, Thorsby High School
Jakobe Nix, Maplesville High School
Nehemiah McCary, Maplesville High School
Jamiah Smith, Verbena High School
Garrett Price, Isabella High School