By Shannon Fagan, WEIS Sports Director
The Spring Garden Lady Panthers won their eighth Class 1A state basketball title earlier this month with a 62-39 victory over defending champion Marion County. The win capped a 36-1 season, and it secured Ricky Austin’s seventh championship as head coach.
The Alabama Sports Writers Association took notice of Austin’s success with the Lady Panthers this season. They recently selected him as the Class 1A Girls Basketball Coach of the Year. Austin’s daughter, sophomore point guard Ace Austin, earned a spot on the 1A Girls Basketball All-State First Team, while senior guard Kayley Kirk was chosen for a position on the third team.
The Austins and Kirk are three of 12 area players/coaches to receive all-state recognition. The teams were released on Sunday morning.
Ace Austin averaged 19.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 4.9 steals. Kirk collected 12.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, two assists and 1.6 steals.
Staying in Class 1A and with Spring Garden, sophomore center John Welsh also earned a third-team spot on the boys’ side. Welsh averaged 16.2 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.6 steals and a block per game last season for the Panthers (19-8).
In Class 2A, Sand Rock (22-11) clinched its first Final Four berth since 2011 in John Blackwell’s final season as Wildcat coach. The two main catalysts of the Wildcats’ run were senior point guard Jacob StClair and senior guard Kaden Justice.
StClair earned a first-team spot on the Class 2A team, while Justice was selected on the second team.
StClair averaged 27 points, 6.3 assists, 5.4 rebounds and a steal per game. Justice came away with 16.2 points, 6.8 boards and 1.5 assists per contest.
Collinsville senior guard Colton Wills was chosen on the Class 2A boys third team. Wills collected 20.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.2 blocks per game for the Panthers (13-13).
Staying in Class 2A, Sand Rock junior guard Katelyn StClair earned a spot of the third team. She averaged 20.7 points, 5.9 boards, 3.6 assists and 2.9 steals for the Lady Wildcats (18-14). Collinsville senior point guard Tyla Tatum was selected as an honorable mention. Tatum tallied 20.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.6 steals for the Lady Panthers (16-8).
In Class 3A, Piedmont senior point guard Alex Odam picked up a spot on the first team. The Jacksonville State signee averaged 25.6 points, 9.2 boards, 7.1 assists and 2.5 steals for the Bulldogs (25-6). Switching over to the 3A girls’ side, Lady Bulldog senior forward LeLe Ridley earned a spot on the third team. Ridley averaged 14 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.7 steals per game for Piedmont (16-14).
In Class 4A girls, Cherokee County junior guard Mary Hayes Johnson was chosen as an honorable mention. Johnson averaged 13.4 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 4.3 steals for the Lady Warriors (23-8) last season.
You can see the complete ASWA all-state basketball selections below.