AP photo by Mark Almond|
Mississippi's Jenirro Bush, left, can only watch as Alabama's Travis Cohn of Austin High goes for a dunk in the first half of the Alabama-Mississippi high school all-star basketball game in Pelham on Friday. Cohn scored eight points.
113 not enough
Alabama basketball all-stars fall
late to neighbors to the west
By Brooke Milam
email@example.com · 340-2461
PELHAM — A trio of area basketball standouts combined to give their state a lift in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game Friday night at the Pelham Civic Complex, but it wasn't enough.
Mississippi's boys came away with a 118-113 victory in the 17th annual game, just shy of the series highest scoring contest set in 1994 when Mississippi's boys won 123-111.
AP photo by Mark Almond|
Alabama all-star Rico Pickett of Decatur High, left, applies pressure to Mississippi's R.L. Horton during the first half of the Alabama-Mississippi high school all-star game in Pelham on Friday. Pickett finished the game with 14 points and nine assists.
But that's OK — players in the event said it wasn't all about the scoreboard.
"Regardless of wins and losses, it's still a good experience," Decatur High senior Rico Pickett said. "It lets you know where you are against a whole different state."
All stars said playing with some of the best both states have to offer was an appropriate way to close out their high school careers.
"Now it's time to get better for college," said Austin senior Travis Cohn, a Jacksonville University signee.
Pickett had 14 points and nine assists, while Cohn added eight points and six rebounds. Priceville's Josh Bedwell added six points.
"North Alabama in general, we're proud of the guys that were here," said Decatur High coach Jamie Lee, who served as administrative assistant coach for the Alabama team. "They were fun to be around these past three days."
Alabama's girls squad began the night with a 90-65 win over Mississippi.
Pickett started at guard for the Alabama boys team, along with Hazel Green guard Keegan Bell. Central-Tuscaloosa forward Justin Knox, Williamson forward Nick Fairley and LeFlore forward Chris Blake also drew starting assignments.
With the contest tied at 5, Pickett hit a 3-pointer that pulled Alabama within three at 13-10.
Mississippi led by as many as seven points in the first half, but Alabama went on a 16-0 scoring run, highlighted by a soaring dunk by Cohn that made it 28-19 Alabama with 12:58 to play in the first half.
"It felt good — it felt real good," Cohn said. "On a team with so many good players, it's nice to get a chance to shine. I was nervous at first, but once we started playing it was just like any other game."
Free throws by Mississippi's R.L. Horton tied the game at 34 with 7:50 left in the first half.
The score was knotted again at 36 before back-to-back 3-pointers by Sparkman's G.W. Boon and a basket by Blake gave Alabama a 44-36 lead.
Mississippi was within two points when Bedwell sank a pair of free throws that kept Alabama ahead 46-42 with 4:50 to play before the break.
After Mississippi grabbed a 53-50 lead, Bedwell drained a 3-point basket with a defender in his face that tied the game at 53 with 1:57 left in the half.
Bedwell assisted R.C. Hatch's Calvin Pope for a basket that put Alabama up 55-53 a minute before halftime, but Mississippi led 60-58 at the intermission.
"At the first of the game (Mississippi) didn't miss a shot, and then in the second half, they came out the same way," said Bedwell, who has committed to play for Samford.
Mississippi was 55 percent from the 3-point line, 45 percent from the field and 60 percent from the free throw line.
The pace of the game sped up in the second half, as Alabama went to a full-court man-to-man defense.
Pickett scored the first basket after halftime, putting Alabama up 61-60.
Neither team led by more than four points in the second half until Mississippi's Justin Ray hit a 3-pointer with 7:20 left in the game that put his team ahead 96-89.
Mississippi surged to a 102-93 lead after that.
"They could shoot the ball really well, and we didn't think they could," Pickett said. "They proved us wrong."
A 360-dunk by Pickett pulled Alabama within five at 104-99 with 3:42 to play, and Alabama was within four points with 1:57 left. But Mississippi didn't let up.
Knox, an Alabama signee, scored 22 points and grabbed seven rebounds and was named most valuable player of the Alabama team, while Ray was Mississippi's most valuable player.
Bell, a Vanderbilt signee, put up 11 points, six assists and two steal for the Alabama squad. Fairley, who has signed with Auburn in football, had 20 points and nine rebounds.
Boon, who has signed with Bucknell, scored 16 points and pulled down six rebounds.
Alabama girls 90, Mississippi 65: Alabama's girls led by double-digits at halftime 41-31 and continued to roll in the second half.
Courtney Ward of Jeff Davis, a 5-foot-9 guard who has signed with Florida State, was named the most valuable player of the Alabama squad, contributing 21 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Jasmine Payne, a 6-foot-1 South Carolina signee, was selected the Mississippi team's most valuable player, finishing with 17 points, 10 rebounds and four steals. She was the only player on her team to score in double figures.
Alabama won it inside, putting up the majority of its points close to the basket. Alabama's inside players posted 58 points, while Mississippi had 32 around the basket.
Alabama also outrebounded Mississippi 61-35.
The home team controlled the guard play, too. Mississippi struggled from long-range, sinking just one of 14 3-point attempts, while Alabama made five 3-pointers, led by two treys from McIntosh's Kimberly Davis.
For Alabama, Ramsay's Katherine Graham, an LSU signee who was named Miss Basketball by the Alabama Sports Writers Association on Thursday, gave the winners 10 points and 12 rebounds. Ramsay teammate Samone Kennedy, who has signed with South Carolina, had four points, three assists and two steals.
Other standouts included Arab's Alli Smalley, who has signed with Auburn, scoring nine points with four rebounds.
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