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THURSDAY, JANUARY 11, 2007
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New West Morgan standout Phillip Powell, back row in the middle, with senior teammates Jake Sparkman, back left, Micah Randolph, back right, Grant Harbin, front left, Brandon Jackson, front middle, and Matthew Cross, front right.
Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer
New West Morgan standout Phillip Powell, back row in the middle, with senior teammates Jake Sparkman, back left, Micah Randolph, back right, Grant Harbin, front left, Brandon Jackson, front middle, and Matthew Cross, front right.

New man in
the middle

W. Morgan team that relies on seniors finds another good one in Phillip Powell

By Brooke Milam
bmilam@decaturdaily.com 340-2460

TRINITY — West Morgan High boys basketball coach Ricky Bowling didn't get much advance notice that he would be getting a new player this season. In fact, he didn't find out officially until the day school started that Phillip Powell would transfer from Decatur High for his senior year.

"The first time I met him was in the hall here on the first day of school a few months ago," Bowling said. "When I first saw him I said, 'Hey, this is going to be nice.' "

The addition of Powell gave West Morgan the big man it had lacked. At 6-foot-53/4, Powell stands as the tallest player on the Rebels' roster.

Powell made the move from Decatur and lives with his 23-year-old brother, Keith, in Trinity, completing a legal transfer. That meant he did not have to sit out a year, which Alabama High School Athletic Association rules would've dictated otherwise. He's had an immediate impact.

"I knew (West Morgan) had talent and Coach Bowling told me I could be a big asset to the team," Powell said. "So I've tried to play my best and play hard all the time."

He's averaging 17.5 points and 12.5 rebounds for the Rebels, who are 13-6, undefeated in Class 2A, Area 15, and can earn the right to host the area tournament with a win over No. 10-ranked Tanner on Friday night.

Powell has found himself in the middle of the action this season, and his new teammates have welcomed him to the mix.

"We really never had a big man on our team," said 6-foot-2 senior guard Micah Randolph, who is the team's second-leading scorer.

Powell gives 6-foot-4 sophomore Chandler Culver someone to go up against in practice.

His joining the team gave West Morgan 10 players on its varsity roster, and Bowling said that meant he didn't have to join in for five-on-five drills.

"I like to do it, but I'm getting too old for all that," the 53-year old Bowling said, smiling.

Decatur High coach Jamie Lee said Powell averaged about 10 minutes of playing time a game for the Red Raiders last year. Lee added that Powell definitely played an important part for Decatur's squad.

"Phillip needed a change, and I'm proud of him," Lee said. "I've gone to watch him play this season and I wished I had him back, honestly. But this is what's best for him and I'm happy for him."

West Morgan now has an experienced group of six seniors, including Powell, Randolph, Brandon Jackson, Jake Sparkman, Grant Harbin and Matthew Cross.

The Rebels also have an all-senior starting lineup, and the transition of adding a senior transfer appears to have gone smoothly.

"Phillip, he'd help anybody," Bowling said. "He's fit in really well. They've accepted him, and I think it's taken a lot of pressure off of Micah and kept him from feeling like he always had to score. Micah realizes it's going to happen for both he and Phillip."

The move came at the perfect time because West Morgan is without both Quinton Davis and Andrew Elliott this season. Both tore knee ligaments during football season.

"Especially with them going down, having Phillip has been a blessing," Bowling said.

One of West Morgan's biggest wins came Dec. 12 when the Rebels beat Tanner 59-57. The Rebels have lost to only one 2A school all season, dropping a contest to No. 9-ranked Cold Springs in overtime.

Bowling said his team has put together what he calls "a complete game" two or three times this year, noting that out of six loses, two have come in overtime and another was by just two points.

"Potentially, we have a chance to be a good team come tournament time. I think the opportunity is there," Bowling said. "I don't think our players have realized their potential yet."

No current Rebels player has played in the Northwest Regionals at Wallace State-Hanceville, and Randolph said he and his teammates don't want to let their last chance slip away.

"We've never gotten to play at Wallace State, and that's a big dream we all have," Randolph said.

Powell has seen what it takes to get to regionals as a member of Decatur's team. He said he thinks his current teammates have what it takes.

"When we play as a team, I don't think there's anybody that can beat us," Powell said.

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