By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times
Lost in the shuffle of the 2012-13 campaign and the postseason were two local basketball players eclipsing the 1,000-point career mark. Senior Blake Parker accomplished the feat for Fairview early in the playoffs, while Holly Pond’s Gunter Morris did so over the Christmas holidays.
Parker reached the milestone with a 10-point performance during the Aggies’ 38-36 sub-regional loss to Butler in February. The Fairview center finished his prep career with 1,001 total points.
Morris, on the other hand, topped the mark earlier in the season during a 57-43 loss to Arab in the WQSB Christmas Tournament at Albertville. He’ll enter his senior season with 1,229 career points.
Bronco coach Mitch Morris said this past season was Gunter’s best of his three so far.
“It was the most consistent season he’s played,” he said. “Being a junior and being around it so long, he was able to settle in with some good players surrounding him. He was a good scorer inside for us, and his perimeter game really improved as well.”
Morris turned it on at the end of the season especially, collecting 55 points, 26 rebounds and 11 assists over Holly Pond’s final three games, including a 31-point outburst in the Broncos’ 107-95 Northeast Regional Tournament final triumph over Pisgah. The junior’s play earned him All-Tournament Team honors at both the regional and state levels.
The forward played a big role in getting his team to its first Final 48 appearance since 1988. The Broncos finished the year with a 25-6 record after falling 60-44 in a state semifinal matchup against Southside-Selma.
“He stepped up and made some big plays,” Coach Morris said. “He was in the right spot at the right time and got some good baskets. He really elevated his level of play the last couple of weeks in the season.”
Morris added he was happy for his son from a parent’s standpoint but also thrilled with his improvement from a coach’s point-of-view.
“As a dad, I’m really proud of him,” the coach said. “But on the coaching side, I’m tickled to death as well that he was recognized for his accomplishments as a player.”
Morris is set to return for one more season, where he will join a solid core of Colby Adams, Austin Smith and Cody Jones in hopes to return Holly Pond back to Birmingham.
“It’s huge knowing we have that kind of experience coming back,” Coach Morris said. “Colby had a really great season. Throw in Austin, who really came into his own and became a dominant force and Cody Jones, a sophomore who saw a lot of minutes for us, and we like where we are headed.”
For Fairview head coach Greg Boatright, he doesn’t get the luxury of seeing Parker back in the Purple and Gold next year.
Parker, who averaged 11 points and eight rebounds per contest, was a vital cog to the Aggies’ squad, both offensively and defensively.
Boatright was extremely complimentary of his departing senior.
“He had a real good season,” the coach said. “He was a three-year starter who made a big difference on our team. He’s been a solid player for us in his career.”
The 6-foot-4 center certainly went out with a bang, leading his team in total points (349), total rebounds (168), steals (59) and blocks (42).
“We’re going to miss him down low,” Boatright said. “He’s a big part of a really good senior class we’re losing.
The coach added Parker showed a lot of guts throughout the year, playing through various gallbladder issues late in the season, including postseason games.
“I think that epitomizes the kind of player he is,” Boatright said. “He didn’t always feel like playing, but he tried and did pretty well despite it.”
Parker grew into his role over the course of his three years on the varsity squad. According to Boatright, he came up as a 10th-grader with his contributions limited to defense.
“His last two years, he came in and filled whatever role we needed him to fill,” he said. “We counted on him offensively this year, and he stepped up and did it. He’s a winner and a kid with a lot of grit. He’ll be sorely missed.”
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 258 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.