The Warm Up: ALABAMA’s first-round showdown!
In this week’s edition of The Warm-Up, I give a quick recap of some key games that occurred last night in area play and some games to look out for tomorrow.
One of the best available point guards in the state put up big numbers in the first round of the 6A area tournament. And over in Huntsville, an elite guard emerges in the 2nd half to lead his team to victory, and one of the biggest rivalries of the season came to an end with an early 7A matchup.
The Rivalry of Sparkman vs. Grissom
Last night’s rivalry matchup against these two powerhouses was one for the ages. The energy was so high in the gym that the crowd stayed on the edge of their seats throughout the game. You hate to see two great teams face off early in a win-or-go-home situation, but that doesn't take away the fact of how great this game was.
Both teams kicked off trading baskets with no one willing to let up, but it would be the fantastic shooting from Sparkman that would give them the momentum to control the game.
Calen Lightford was the leading force to the victory as he dropped 18 points, putting on an outstanding performance from the point. He was magical from the midrange and did great running the team in transition.
The Sparkman’s bench gave them the edge with some great play from Timbre Kirk and Kahleel Green, with both players adding a solid 13 points, knocking down some great shots from beyond the arch. Senior Josh Price also chipped in with ten points and seven assists.
For Grissom, we saw the last game of Efrem “Butta” Johnson, but it was a fantastic one as he finished 27 points. Johnson had a great season and will go on to do bigger and better things on an elite level wherever he decides to go.
RJ Johnson added 16 points handling things in the paint and will be a significant focus next season.
Sparkman will take on Huntsville Friday.
MJ Jones Shines against Helena
After coming out slow, Pelham would go on a solid run in the 2nd quarter, giving them control for most of the game.
MJ Jones came alive in this first-round matchup, and it doesn’t look like he’s letting up anytime soon. He is arguably one of the best point guards in the class of 2022, and the more he performs like this, the more schools will be dialed in.
Jones had 36 points, pulling down five rebounds and dishing out five assists. Kamari Hollis added a solid 10 points playing some excellent defense.
Pelham will take on Chilton County Friday in the championship.
Ja’Mari Arnold explodes in a win over Albertville.
The top performance of the night goes to ’23 6-foot guard Ja’Mari Arnold. Albertville came out strong in the first half, putting a defensive shutout on Arnold while attacking the lane, getting up quick baskets of what looked like a road to victory.
Massiah Morris, who put up a strong 17 points, and John Gossett, who added 10 points, would keep the game within arm’s reach before the end of the half.
After being down 33-22 at the half, Arnold would take over the game in a major way. He got locked in and went on a scoring warpath, slashing to the basket and putting up some smooth jumpers.
He would put up 18 points in the second half alone and punch back to the sweet 16 for the fourth straight year. Huntsville will advance to their area championship to take on Sparkman High in what will be a great showdown.
KEY Games to Watch: 2/10/2022
McGill-Toolen vs. Blount
Eufaula vs. Valley
Hueytown vs. McAdory
Baker vs. Davidson
Fairhope vs. Murphy
Central vs. Sipsey Valley
Wenonah vs. Fairfield