Many prep basketball teams across the state can only dream about representing their schools in the Final 48 tournament at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.
Holly Pond, however, isn’t one of those squads.
Not the girls. Not even the boys.
Both varsity teams brought a substantial amount of buzz and excitement to their small-town community following impressive 2012-13 campaigns that saw the girls stake claim to their first state tournament berth since 2010 and the boys, their first in more than 25 years (1988). It also marked the first time both made a state appearance in the same season.
For Scott Adams, it was an almost perfect season that nearly resulted in the school’s first-ever state title.
The Lady Broncos ripped through their competition, finishing the year with a 29-6 record — the most wins by a hoops team in school history — to go along with county, area and regional championships. It was the first county title for the program since 1997 and its fifth straight area crown.
The Broncos then ran through Piedmont and Ashville to grab their regional trophy before handling a tough Straughn squad en route to the state finale.
Although Holly Pond fell to Lauderdale County in the title tilt, it did little to deter Adams’ take on the year.
"This has all just been a dream come true," he told The Times back in February. "I can't put it into words. Our girls worked extremely hard all season long. They're special. I knew coming into the season they had a chance to be good. We became a tremendous defensive team as the year progressed. There were just so many special moments with them this season. I'm so proud of this team."
Adams took home Class 3A Coach of the Year honors for his work with the team, while since-departed Taylor Terry netted spots on the All-State Tournament Team and All-State first team.
The feel-good story of the season, however, was the Green and White’s Lexy Malone. Adams and Co. rallied around each other after the then-senior tore her ACL for the second time in her career during the Yule Tide Classic in December.
In a fitting end for Malone, she took the court during Holly Pond’s final home game — a sub-regional win over Geraldine — and proceeded to make a 3-pointer as time expired, much to the joy of the Bronco bench and their faithful fans.
Not to be outdone, Mitch Morris’ squad had quite the season to be happy about itself.
Following another ho-hum area crown, the Broncos duked it out with talented teams such as Geraldine, Weaver and Pisgah — the latter a 107-95 shootout featuring 99 total free-throw attempts and three electrifying dunks by Austin Smith — to punch their ticket to the big dance before falling to Southside-Selma in a semifinal bout.
It didn’t help Holly Pond’s cause when Smith had to bounce back and forth between the bench and locker room after suffering a dislocated toe that required surgery which kept him in a walking boot throughout the spring.
“What I told our guys in the dressing room is you have nothing to be ashamed of,” coach Morris said following the tough loss. “I'm tickled to death we got here. We had a great year.”
The Green and White finished their season with a 25-6 mark — by far the best in the county — and is well on its way to accomplishing similar feats in 2014.
Holly Pond’s boys are currently ranked second in 3A. Its girls are fourth.
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 136 or at email@example.com.