All-Area basketball team
Priceville's Bedwell and Hartselle's Jones lead squads
Justin Schuver, Hartselle Enquirer
Local teams received a lot of ink during the post-season this year. Of the 10 boys and girls basketball teams in the area, five of them made at least the sub-region level and two advanced as far as the regional level, with Priceville's boys team taking a trip to Birmingham as one of the state's final four Class 2A teams standing.
The following 10 players and coaches are those whose exceptional performances warrant special attention. They are the leaders of their teams and the boys and girls who stepped up all season when a big play was needed or a big shot had to be made. They are the 2006 Hartselle Enquirer All-Area basketball team.
Boys Player of the Year – Josh Bedwell, Priceville
Bedwell set several milestones during the season, breaking 1,000 points for his career against Elkmont Dec. 30, breaking the Priceville school scoring record with 44 points against Falkville and breaking the Class 2A Regional scoring record with 43 points against White Plains.
The junior shooting guard was the unquestioned offensive leader on a Priceville team that finished the season 21-12 and advanced to the Final Four after blazing through the Northeast Regional at Jacksonville State. He finished the season with a scoring average of 24.7 points per game and shot 41.4 percent from behind the three-point line. He was solid at the free-throw line as well, finishing the season with an 80 percent rate from the charity stripe.
He failed to score in double figures just twice during the regular season, scoring nine points in both a 53-52 Dec. 2 loss to Brewer and in Priceville's 85-39 loss to R.C. Hatch in the state semifinals.
Boys Coach of the Year – Darrell Haynes, Priceville
After Priceville closed out its season with a tough double-overtime loss to Danville, very few expected the Bulldogs to turn on the jets in the postseason.
Haynes, the only varsity coach Priceville has had since re-instating its basketball program five years ago, turned Priceville into an exciting offensive team that also played a strong zone defense, a defense that stymied potent offensive teams like Ider and White Plains in the playoffs. The Bulldogs finished the season with 21wins and opened a lot of eyes across the state.
While Haynes prefers to deflect the attention away from himself and gave his players credit for the Bulldogs' dream season, he still deserves a considerable amount of credit for helping Priceville have a season it will remember for years to come.
Girls Player of the Year –
Shan Jones, Hartselle
In a neck-and-neck battle, Jones squeaks by fellow Lady Tiger Lauren Drake for this year's Player of the Year. Jones was named Player of the Year on one coach's ballot, Drake on one, and the two were both nominated for the honor on another coach's ballot.
The senior forward was a veteran leader for Hartselle all season, helping the Lady Tigers reach the No. 2 ranking in the state and win four tournaments during the year – the Homewood Shootout, the River City Classic, the Morgan County Tournament and the Area 16 Tournament. Jones broke the 1,000-point mark for her career against West Morgan Nov. 29 and showed no signs of wear-and-tear as she bounced back from an ACL injury in December 2004 that ended her junior season.
Jones led the Lady Tigers with a 14.3 points per game scoring average and also averaged 7.2 rebounds per game. The senior forward had 90 steals for the season and contributed 110 assists. She shot 35.2 percent from behind the three-point line (32-of-91).
Girls Coach of the Year –
Greg Adams, Hartselle
Adams and the Lady Tigers' coaching staff led Hartselle to a No. 2 ranking in the state and helped them manufacture several impressive upsets during the regular season, including defeating top-ranked Class 6A teams Clay-Chalkville and Vestavia Hills to win the River City Classic in December.
Hartselle advanced to the Northwest Regional for the fifth time Adams' nine seasons coaching the team, and finished the season with 26 wins.
Boys First Team
Bedwell is joined by Priceville teammate Alex Cannon on this year's All-Area team. Cannon averaged 12.5 points during the year and along with Bedwell formed a two-pronged offensive attack that few teams were able to stop.
Falkville junior Heath Alford was named to the first team on every coach's ballot. A 6-foot-1 forward with outside shooting skill, he averaged 22 points per game and 7.1 rebounds per game while leading Falkville to a runner-up finish in Area 14. He broke the 1,000-point mark for his career against Catholic Jan. 13.
Brewer's Matt Nielsen was another unanimous choice to the first team and received one vote for Player of the Year. Nielsen led the Patriots in scoring and helped lead Brewer to its third-straight Morgan County Tournament championship. Nielsen scored 26 points in the championship game against West Morgan and was named Tournament MVP.
Danville senior Chris Vest closes out the All-Area first team. Vest filled the scoring void on a Hawks team that lost several key offensive players from the 2005 team that advanced to the Final Four. He led Danville in scoring with 18 points per game and also averaged six rebounds per contest.
Girls First Team
Hartselle junior Lauren Drake joins Jones as members of the All-Area team from the Lady Tigers. Drake broke the 1,000-point plateau for her career against Priceville Dec. 16 and was a scoring force inside for Hartselle all season.
She averaged 12.7 points per game for the Lady Tigers and led the team in rebounding with a 9.2 rebounds per game average. Drake was also a force defensively, blocking 78 shots and making 69 steals.
Brewer junior Andrea Crawford was a balanced player all season long, averaging 14.5 points per game, 5.3 rebounds per game and 4.6 assists per game.
Falkville's Emily Dabbs played well beyond her years for the Lady Blue Devils this season. Just an eighth grader, Dabbs led the team in scoring with 16 points per game and also shot a solid 77 percent from the free-throw line.
Priceville sophomore Jessi Smith was the only returning starter for the Lady Bulldogs this season, but stepped up when called on to be a team leader this season.
Despite losing four seniors from last year's 29-6 team, Priceville came within one game of making it back to the Northeast Regional and finished the season as Area 14 champion.
Smith averaged 13.2 points per game and 6.4 rebounds per game.