CLASS 4A-6A GIRLS COACH OF THE YEAR
Allen leads Brewer girls through special season
By Mark Edwards
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FLORETTE — Ricky Allen has spent much of his life around basketball. He played at Brewer High and Snead State and has spent the past 30 years coaching, including the last 22 as the head coach of Brewer's girls basketball team.
He says that through all that time, he shed tears after only three games. Two came this season, which shows how much his most recent Lady Patriots team means to him.
The first time happened his senior season at Brewer when the Patriots made the 1973 state tournament but in a quarterfinal loss he missed the last shot that would've won it.
He then cried after Brewer knocked off rival Hartselle in the Morgan County tournament finals.
The third time happened when Brewer fell to Wenonah in the Northwest Regional semifinals.
That loss ended a dream season in which the Lady Patriots went 23-8, posted a 13-game win streak at the end of the year and won the Morgan County and Class 5A, Area 13 championships, knocking off eventual Final Four team Hartselle in both instances.
For squeezing that kind of season out of his team, Allen is The Daily's Class 4A-6A girls basketball coach of the year. He also won the award in 1998.
"We had a large number of seniors this year — five seniors," said Allen, who has 391 career victories. "I told them before the year that this group hadn't won a thing. They hadn't won any championships.
"But we had high expectations for them — it would've been an injustice if we had not expected anything other than great things from them."
Allen said that he and lead assistant coach Derrick Garrison put their team through the toughest preseason camps and the toughest schedule they could find, which included games against eventual state finalist Arab and spots in the Bradley Central tournament in Cleveland, Tenn., and the Big Orange Classic in Hoover.
Perhaps the finest moments for Allen and his Brewer squad came in the two wins over Hartselle, with supreme stakes in each case.
In the Morgan County finals, Brewer won 66-50. Then in the 5A, Area 13 finals, the Lady Patriots won again 63-58.
That Morgan County title gave his seniors their first championship as a group, although they had contributed some to a county championship as sophomores.
"I do all of my coaching during the week, so on game night, I don't do a lot of coaching," he said. "I direct on game night. As I was sitting there and watching them play with perfection. All the hard work we had done was paying off.
"That was one of the very best games one of my teams has played, and it was very rewarding to watch."
Upon learning that he would receive The Daily's coach of the year honor, Allen heaped plenty of praise on seven people — his five seniors, Garrison and his wife, Charlotte Allen, who teaches science at Lacey's Spring and is a well-respected cheerleading coach.
The five seniors include senior guards Genie Browning and Andrea Crawford, forward/guard Heather Childers and centers Courtney Scott and Michelle Tillman.
As for Charlotte Allen, Ricky Allen credits her support for making this job one he wants to continue doing.
"Not many coaches are lucky enough to have someone so concerned and caring about what their husbands do," he said.
And if you're a fan of Ricky Allen and Brewer basketball, you can credit her for him deciding to return next season.
Ricky Allen will remain at Brewer, even though he already has qualified for his full benefits under the state retirement system.
As he considered his options after the season, it was Charlotte who asked, "What do you want to do?"
The answer came: "I want to coach basketball."
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