Road to AISA Class AA basketball championship ends for Lowndes Academy

Published 7:26 pm Thursday, February 2, 2017

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By Fred Guarino

The Lowndes Signal

The road to an Alabama Independent School Association Class AA state basketball championship came to an end for the Lowndes Academy Rebels and Lady Rebels in the Elite 8 Basketball Tournament played at the Multiplex at Cramton Bowl in Montgomery on Wednesday, Feb. 1.

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The Lowndes Academy Rebels fell to Russell Christian 75-45, and the Lady Rebels fell to South Choctaw 53-28.

The Rebels were led by Daniel Callaway with 10 points, Jon Johnson, John Franklin and Wade Howard and John Taylor with 6 points each and Brian Rayburn with 5 points.

Russell Christian jumped out to a 19-point lead in the first period and never really ever looked back.

Lowndes Academy Rebels head basketball coach Matt Marshall said the Rebels “ran into a buzz saw” to complete their final three games of the season.

He said that two their final three opponents made it to the final four of the AISA state playoffs.

Marshall said on Wednesday, the Lowndes varsity boys played Russell Christian (23-4) of Meridian, Miss.

“He said, “The team from Mississippi was just a little too much for our boys.  They had us in height on the floor and speed.  I thought our boys played hard in spurts.  But at these level of competition, it has to be consistent from start to finish.” Marshall said Russell Christian had two players listed at 6’5 while Lowndes’ tallest starter was 6′.

He said rebounding was a problem in the Russell Christian game and defending the drive, while Russell Christian had a “good mixture of everything.”

Marshall said Russell Christian had three players who could really attack the basket, and one who could knock down outside shots.

“It just was not a good night for because they spread us out so well,” Marshall said. “As for the season and the program, we are in great shape to move into next year. Marshall said the junior varsity program had an outstanding year and got some valuable experience at this level this year and there will be a couple of players eligible next year who weren’t this year.”

Marshall said, “Our goal is to give our kids more opportunities this summer to work on their game and to improve.  I want our kids to have more fight and more determination.  This season was tough, we played a schedule that was beneficial for us to rebuild our program, but not enough to instill consistency in adverse times.”

He said, “We lost six games this year decided by less than five points.  We must learn to win those games to gain the confidence we need to move forward.”

Against South Choctaw, Laiken Hussey led the Lady Rebels with 6 points, followed by Madolynn Headley, Hannah Till and Abby Ray with 5 points each.

Lowndes Academy Lady Rebels head basketball coach Jeff Lovell said, “I am extremely proud of this teams accomplishments. We are a young team with one senior (Abby Ray) who has been a tremendous asset to our program. She played the last six games with a torn ACL and showed a tremendous amount of toughness and passion she has for the game and her teammates.”

Lovell said of the final game of the season, “Last night just was not our night. South Choctaw is a very good team who executed their game plan and made the plays. We will get back to work and plan on being back next year. Our effort was there we just couldn’t make shots.”

The Lowndes Academy Rebels included: Chase Little, Johnson, Rayburn, John Franklin, Joseph Brown, Howard, Callaway, Garrett Little, Daniel Janes, Thomas Franklin, Jesse Foley, Taylor, Brandon Reid, Ritvik Patel, Kason Williams, Landon Hooper and Cody Barber.

The AISA Class AA Rebels were 8-12 overall, 1-3 in the Area 1 and finished fourth in Region 1.

The Lowndes Academy Lady Rebels included McKaleigh Holley, Hannah Rogers, Hussey, Headley, Helen Oglsby, Alana Moore, Kaitie Ray, Till, De Tew, Lauren Dail, Madalyn Taylor, Abby Ray and Brooke Myers.

The AISA Class AA Lady Rebels were 16-6 overall, 3-1 in Area 1 play and finished second in the Region 1.