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Pickens Academy girls win state championship


Pickens Academy players hoist the championship trophy after defeating Lowndes Academy in the Class AA title game at Huntingdon College in Montgomery on Friday. (Photo by Mickey Welsh | Montgomery Advertiser)


MONTGOMERY | It was one of those grind-it-out games where veteran teams rise up to the challenge, while the inexperienced ones show their age.

Even with Lowndes Academy knocking frantically on the door late, Pickens Academy made plays when needed.

On Friday at Huntingdon’s Roland Arena, Marion Colvin scored 19 points, made several key free throws and earned MVP honors to help the Pirates hold on for a 36-31 victory over to capture the AISA Class AA girls basketball state championship.

"It don’t matter win or lose, at the end of the season you are wore out," Pickens Academy coach Wade Goodman said. "It’s stressful coaching basketball, I also coach softball and softball is nothing like this. …The first one was sweet, but this one is really sweet."

It’s the second championship the Pirates (22-3) have captured under Goodman, who guided the school to the state crown in 2010. Pickens Academy has three state titles for the girls basketball program to celebrate.

From the tip, it was obvious the championship pressure affected the Pirates. Pickens Academy was plagued by costly turnovers and missed defensive assignments which led to Lowndes carrying an 18-16 advantage at halftime. Colvin’s eight points led the team.

"We didn’t play well, but (Lowndes) had everything to do with it," Goodman said.

Friday’s matchup marked the third time the two private schools tangled on the hardwood, but it was PA’s 18-point thrashing of the Rebels (15-9) that stands out the most of the two previous meetings.

"We beat them by four, and then we beat them by (18)," Goodman explained. "When you play a pressure team, you just never know. You never know how girls are going to deal with the pressure, and we didn’t deal with it every well."

The Pirates responded like a seasoned group after the break, holding Lowndes to just five points in the third quarter to forge a 27-23 lead to open the decisive period.

"It seemed like every time we had a chance to change the momentum, we had a turnover or missed layup," Rebels coach Jeff Lovell said. "Those are the downers. You have an opportunity to do something and you kind of blow it. Maybe youth and inexperience played a part in that."

Carmen Till’s jumper from the top of the key sliced PA’s lead to 33-31 with less than 30 seconds left, but Colvin and Kacy Roland made 3-of-4 from the line to seal the victory.

"I told the girls earlier in the year that if we play bad we’ll lose, but if we play decent we’re going to be hard to beat" Goodman said.