From winning the Walker County and Area 13 championships, to advancing to the AHSAA Class 1A Elite Eight following Wednesday night’s 62-50 Northwest Region victory over the R.A. Hubbard Chiefs, the Tornadoes have seen each goal that were set by the program accomplished — while winning a school-record 28 games and suffering only one lost.
One very familiar obstacle remains for Parrish on their road to the State Championship Final 48 in Birmingham, the No. 8 Marion County Red Raiders, when the two rivals lock up in the region championship game on Saturday at 10:40 a.m. at Wallace State’s Drake Coliseum in Hanceville.
Parrish and Marion County, two Area 13 teams, have met three times this year, with the Tornadoes going a perfect 3-0 in the series. They most recently clashed at the Area 13 Championship game, where Parrish prevailed 70-59.
In preparing for Saturday’s title clash, Parrish coach Heath Burns said that his team’s ability to maintain a high-level of intensity will be a key for his team.
“There’s one word that comes to mind when you are going in to a game that takes you to the Final 48 — finish. He haven’t finished yet,” Burns said.
“We need to finish possessions, plays, quarters, halves and games. He have a tendency to light up the scoreboard for four minutes before our intensity begins to lessen. We need to take that same level of energy and drive and continue it for the entire game. If we can develop into a team that plays at a high-level throughout the contest, we’ll have a tempo game, which is what we want.”
Senior Brodrick Sanders, who was part of the 2010-11 team that was eliminated from the Northwest Region Tournament by R.A. Hubbard, feels that his team is ready to take the next step toward Birmingham and that the three-year journey has made the accomplishments of this season much more rewarding.
“I think that we’re ready now. Our whole team has gotten better in our gameplay and we understand what is expected out of each one of us,” Sanders said.
Junior Reginald Harris, who has become one of the team’s top defenders in forcing turnovers and creating easy transition baskets, said that the team’s progression made throughout the season has been critical to its overall success.
“We’re playing much better than we were in the middle of the season. Our offensive execution is much better as we’ve become more patient in looking for opportunities to develop and our defense has been great in getting the ball back into our hands and keeping the tempo going in our favor,” Harris said. “I love putting the pressure on an opposing offense and stealing the ball — my teammates help me out with it a lot — and that’s when were able to convert those balls into points for us. In those situations, we do not care who makes the shot, we all feel like the team made the basket.”
Throughout the progress the team has made on offense and defense through the year and the cohesion that has brought the Tornadoes even closer together, Harris stated the team’s overall focus has never left their minds.
“We want to win it all, and we’re far from done,” Harris said.