Head coach Robert Epps is the reason — and the Alabama Sports Writers Association (ASWA) — continues to take notice.
Epps is the Class 3A Coach of the Year for the second straight season after leading the Bulldogs to the state championship game for the first time in school history.
Carbon Hill lost seven seniors from the 2010-11 team that finished 30-2 and advanced to the Final Four, but Epps and company didn’t miss a beat, closing the season in the 3A state championship game at the BJCC.
The Bulldogs ended the 2011-12 campaign with a 27-8 mark after catching fire in mid-January. Following a loss to Winfield that left Carbon Hill with an 11-7 record, the team reeled off 16 straight wins, picking up Walker County, area and Northwest Regional Tournament titles along the way. Only a loss to Greensboro in the title game ended Carbon Hill’s streak.
Epps has led the Bulldogs to a 57-10 record over the last two seasons with three of the losses coming to back-to-back state champion Greensboro.
Carbon Hill’s do-it-all senior guard Tylor Owens was also recognized by the ASWA. Owens picked up first-team honors this season one year after being an honorable mention selection.
Owens was the unquestioned leader of the Bulldogs for the second straight season.
The senior point guard was an across-the-board contributor for Carbon Hill, averaging 16.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.5 steals per game. Owens shined over the last four games. He had 18 points in an overtime win over Sheffield in the opening game of the Northwest Regional Tournament. He pitched in another 18 in the Bulldogs’ win over Elkmont in the regional tournament championship game.
He also huge individual performances at state, scoring a season-high 30 points in Carbon Hill’s win over Montgomery Academy at the Final Four in Birmingham. He added 20 points in the loss to Greensboro in the state championship game.
Owens was the Northwest Regional Tournament MVP and was also on the All-State Tournament Team.
Owens (5-foot-10) is joined on the All-State first team by: Greensboro’s Jimmie Taylor (Jr., C, 6-9), Montgomery Academy’s Josh Thomas (Fr., G, 5-11), Clark County’s Corderrio Hasewood (Sr., G, 6-0) and Madison Academy’s Josh Langford (8th, G, 6-4).
Carbon Hill sophomore forward Gerald Smith is an honorable mention selection this season after averaging 12.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game.
In Class 1A, Parrish sophomore Tyler Sims is an honorable mention selection. Sims averaged 16.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game for the Tornadoes, who finished 21-7 under coach Heath Burns.
Lynn junior forward Jackee Dodd is the lone area selection on the girls All-State Team.
Dodd picked up Class 1A first-team honors after leading the Lady Bears to a school-record 30 victories and a spot in the Northwest Regional Tournament championship game.
She averaged 18 points and nine rebounds a game for a Lynn team that finished 30-2. Both teams that knocked off Lynn this season — R.A. Hubbard and Holy Spirit — advanced to the Final Four in Birmingham.
Dodd topped the 1,000-point mark for her career early this season.
She closed the season with 1,395 career points. She also has 785 career rebounds.
Dodd (5-11) is joined on the Class 1A All-State first team by: R.A. Hubbard’s Alex Gholston (Jr., G, 5-6), Covenant Christian’s Anna Clair Noblit (So., G, 5-7), McIntosh’s Amber Roberts (Jr., F, 6-0) and Holy Spirit’s Kaitlyn Taylor (Sr., G/F, 6-0).