MONTGOMERY – Wenonah High School’s Lady Dragons (15-6) beat Pleasant Grove 67-50 on the road Tuesday night to present head coach Emanuel Bell the 500th win of his storied girls’ basketball coaching career. The milestone victory for one of girls’ basketball’s biggest ambassadors captured the AHSAA Basketball Spotlight for this week.
Markesha Body, who scored 21 points in the win, summed up what her teammates were feeling about their beloved coach following the victory. “He’s an encourager. When he’s around, we go harder,” she told Josh Bean of Al.com. “He’s legendary. He’s an amazing coach.”
Senior guard Faith Reynolds added, "He's been through a lot. We dedicate everything to him."
Bell’s overall coaching record improved to 500-184 with the win. Now in his 24th season, Bell has guided the Lady Dragons to five state championships including the last four Class 5A state titles in a row.
Bell, who was diagnosed with stage four cancer in 2016, said he has nothing but love in his heart for the many players who have played in his program for the last quarter century. He said their encouragement has helped sustain him during his battle with the disease.
“The girls and my assistant coaches have been amazing,” he said. “They work just as hard and do what I need them to do even when I am not there. But more important, I can really feel their love and concern. They really have kept me going when things got tough.”
The Wenonah coach missed more than two months of work earlier this school year and is still undergoing chemotherapy. He said the good news is that the cancer is not growing and has gotten smaller. “God has been so good to me,” he said. “When I was growing up my dad was involved with kids by coaching youth teams and working with Cub Scouts. I told myself I wasn’t going to do that. I didn’t really understand back then.
“However, my life was in a downward spiral when God introduced me to coaching girls’ basketball. It turned my life around. Coaching girls all these years has made a lot of difference in the lives of so many. Some call me their second daddy. But what they don’t realize is that they have made an even bigger difference in my life.”
The school plans to celebrate the milestone win at Friday night’s home game with a ceremony between the girls’ and boys’ games versus Woodlawn. The ceremony will get underway at approximately 7:30 p.m.
Other highlights reported include:
INDIA BROWN, COOSA CHRISTIAN: In a game played in late December, Brown pulled down a school-record 31 rebounds to help the Lady Conquerors beat Cleveland 62-46. She had 17 offensive and 14 defensive rebounds to write her name in the AHSAA Record Book. The 31 boards ties for third best in a single game. Maida Harris of Childersburg set the record with 38 in a game versus B.B. Comer in 2000. Toyonda Peoples of Satsuma and Shamika Culpepper of Sylacauga cleared 32 in 2004 and 1995, respectively. Miracle Mayo of Lanett, Marqu’es Webb of Brewbaker Tech and Kristy Moore of Leeds also had 31 rebounds in a game in 20014, 2011 and 1996, respectively.
OLIVIA JONES, BRANTLEY: Nailed a game-winning shot from mid-court at the buzzer to give the Bulldogs a 37-34 win over Luverne. She finished with 12 points, all coming on 3-point goals. Kassidy Wilcox led Brantley with 14 points, sparked by four 3-pointers.
DALLAS HOWELL, ENTERPRISE: Scored a career-high 34 points, including a putback in the final 10 seconds, to power the Wildcats (13-5) past Headland 56-53. Howell, who also had seven rebounds in the game, scored 14 of Enterprise’s 16 points in the final quarter. He also had 21 points and 13 rebounds in a 60-45 win over Prattville.
CAM’RON GINN-McKINNEY, REHOBETH: Fired a 3-pointer from the corner with five seconds left in overtime to lift Rehobeth (12-7) over Headland 82-81. He finished with 18 points.
HENRY MITCHELL, HOUSTON ACADEMY: Sank two free throws with 2.4 seconds remaining in the second overtime to lift the Raiders (16-1) to a 63-61 win over Daleville. Teammate Ben Nelson made a steal at midcourt and passed the ball ahead to Mitchell, who was fouled driving to the basket to set up the winning free throws. Houston Academy led 36-27 at halftime. The score was tied 56-56 at the end of regulation and 61-61 after the first overtime.
TOMMY MURR, LINDSAY LANE: Sank two free throws with one second remaining to lead the Lions (19-1) past Waterloo 59-57. He finished with 41 points and four steals. Murr also had 34 points and six steals in Lindsay Lane’s 67-38 victory over Whitesburg Christian and 30 points in a 72-59 loss to Decatur Heritage.
JACOREY JACOBS, ST. LUKE’S EPISCOPAL: Sank a 3-pointer at the buzzer as the Class 2A Wildcats (11-5) downed Class 5A Vigor 56-53. He finished with 11 points.
JABRE BARBER, NORTHVIEW: Sank two free throws with 5.1 seconds remaining to lift the Cougars (7-8) past arch-rival Dothan (7-9). He finished with a game-high 21 points including 13 free throws.
DELO FOSTER, PIEDMONT: Had 16 blocked shots, including 10 in the first quarter, to lead the Bulldogs to a 60-57 win over Weaver. He scored only three points, but his defensive effort tied for third in the AHSAA Record Book for most blocked shots in a game. He now has 70 blocked shots on the season.
TRAVARUS CARROLL, HUFFMAN: Scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter to lead the Vikings (19-1) to a come-from-behind 68-67 win over Mountain Brook (19-5) – and kept his team unbeaten versus AHSAA schools this season in the process. He finished with 12 points. Teammate Eddie Smith had 24 and Trendon Watford had 24 for the Spartans.
J.P. ROBINSON, DESHLER: Had a career-high 46 points as Deshler held off Central-Florence 84-80 in a Class 4A, Area 16 game. Robinson scored 20 of Deshler’s 21 points in the fourth quarter to cap the Tigers’ comeback from an early 11-point deficit.
MARK SEARS, MUSCLE SHOALS: Sears averaged 34 points in two games as the Trojans beat Loretto (TN) and Athens. He had 37 points in a 74-59 win over Loretto.
SJRDAN PETROVIC, HOUSTON ACADEMY: Had 29 points, nine rebounds and nine assists to pace the Class 3A Raiders (15-1) to a 75-41 win over Wicksburg.
DEMETRIUS HUFF, GADSDEN CITY: Had 17 points, including seven in the fourth quarter, as the Titans beat Talladega 66-65. Huff’s bucket in the waning moments put Gadsden City ahead for good. The Titans trailed by as many as eight points in the final quarter. Talladega made 11 3-point goals in the loss. Chaztin Tanner had four of the Tigers’ treys to finish with 14 points.
NOAH BOLER, DECATUR HERITAGE: Had 26 points, 16 rebounds, five blocked shots and four assists as the Eagles (15-3) beat Lindsay Lane (19-2) in a key Class 1A battle 72-59.
ANDREW WHEELER, ARITON: Scored 22 points and cleared 14 rebounds as Ariton (8-6) downed Rehobeth 79-53.
VINCENT DOUGLAS, BAKER: Was 13-of-16 at the foul line to finish with 23 points to push the Hornets (12-9) past Theodore 46-32.
MATTHEW McNEECE, McGILL-TOOLEN CATHOLIC: Recorded his 10th double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Jackets (14-5) to a 68-63 win over Ocean Springs (MS). Teammate Eric Toth also had a double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds.
BRAXTON & BROOKS BARNHIZER, ALMA BRYANT: The brothers combined for 45 points as the Hurricanes (16-3) beat Davidson 72-41. Braxton, a sophomore, had 24 points, and Brooks, a freshman, had 21. Braxton and Brooks also had 28 and 24 points, respectively, in a 74-59 win over B.C. Rain.
JEFFREY GRIFFIN, MOBILE CHRISTIAN: Had 24 points, including a game-winning free throw with 19 seconds remaining, in the Leopards’ 47-46 win over Clarke County.
MARTAVIUS PAYTON, GEORGIANA: Had 15 points and 12 rebounds as the Class 1A Panthers (16-1) beat Red Level 88-39.
DARRON HOWARD, SPARKMAN: Led the Senators (20-3) to a 66-65 win over James Clemens with 22 points.
GRAHAM COPELAND, RANDOLPH: Had 28 points as the Raiders beat Madison County 70-66.
TREY BONHAM, UMS-WRIGHT: Totaled 18 points, 10 assists and six rebounds to lead the Bulldogs (15-5) past Williamson 74-58.
DIAMOND ACREES, COTTONWOOD: Scored 16 points and had six rebounds as the Lady Bears (8-7), two years removed from a 103-game losing streak, knocked off defending Class 2A state champion Geneva County 44-42.
LATASCYA DUFF, SAMSON: Scored 31 points and her sister LaTora Duff had 16 as Samson (18-2) had 25 steals and forced 34 turnovers to beat defending arch-rival Geneva County (11-6) 62-33. LaTascya also had 17 rebounds. Michelle Duff, the youngest sister, also had 11 points. Karoline Striplin led the Bulldogs with 14 points.
ALLI TEMPLE, HALEYVILLE: Temple scored a career-high 45 points as Haleyville beat Fayette County 82-31. Temple was 21-of-26 from the field in the win.
LEXIE GANN, COVENANT CHRISTIAN: Gann scored 35 points in a win over Waterloo.
RIVER BALDWIN, PLEASANT HOME: The 6-foot-5 center had 37 points, 11 rebounds, three blocked shots and five steals to lead the Eagles (16-4) to a 49-29 win over Houston County. She also had 33 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots in a 60-13 win over Kinston.
KAITLIN PETERSON, EUFAULA: Scored 33 points, had five steals, five assists and four rebounds in leading the Tigers (14-4) to a 77-48 win over Russell County.
BREE GRIFFIN, GOSHEN: Had 33 points to lead the Eagles past Bullock County 57-44.
DESTINY RAMOS, FAITH ACADEMY: Led the Lady Rams (12-6) to a 54-51 win over Murphy with 27 points and 10 rebounds. Teammate Ashanti Lipscomb nailed 6-of-8 free throws in the final quarter to finish with 12 points. Ramos also had 20 points in a 76-31 win over St. Paul’s Episcopal (15-4).
IVY TURNER, DOTHAN: Tallied 33 points as the Tigers (13-5) nipped Northview (10-5) in a key Class 6A, Area 3 game. She sank two key free throws with 25 seconds remaining to tie the game and teammate Kyra McGlon, who had 17 points, sealed the win with two more charity shots.
ALYSE MADDEN, LANETT: Scored 11 of her team-high 16 points in the fourth quarter as the Lady Panthers (5-3) outscored LaFayette 25-9 in the final eight minutes to win 58-53. Lanett trailed by as many as 11 points in the final period. Madden sank two crucial 3-pointers down the stretch to ignite the comeback effort. She also had 11 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists in a 62-52 win over Russell County.
DESTINEE McGHEE, JAMES CLEMENS: Had 29 points in a 58-54 overtime loss to Sparkman. T.J. Webster had 15 to pace the Senators.
ALEXIS LEGGETT, ARITON: Totaled 23 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocked shots as the Purple Cats (7-1) downed Rehobeth 54-40. Teammate Zakyria Johnson also contributed 18 points and 13 rebounds.
KATHLEEN WHEELER, PRICEVILLE: Had 20 points, 12 rebounds and five assists in a 56-41 win over Danville and another double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds) in a 59-30 win over West Limestone.
WHITNEY NOVAK, ST. LUKE’S EPISCOPAL: Scored 17 points and had 10 steals as the Wildcats forced 48 turnovers in a 56-16 win over J.U. Blacksher.