The celebration must have lasted well into the night. And into Friday. And all the way up I-65.

But not too long, not with so much work to be done — starting much sooner than you might think.

Make no mistake, somewhere in southwestern Cullman County, plans for a Cold Springs three-peat are already being laid.

And the first progress report will come Monday, when Tammy West and the Eagles will hold their first meeting of the young offseason. Too bad a few heavy hitters won’t be there.

“It’s going to be weird not having those seniors there,” West said Thursday, hours after Cold Springs won its second straight Class 2A state title with a come-from-way-behind 75-60 win over Ider at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex Arena.

Those seniors are Alana Bookout, Brittany Hampton, Kayla Johnson and Paige Parker, four players that had as much to do with the Eagles’ historic run over the last four seasons as anyone.

But none of them will be missed as much as Parker, the two-time defending Class 2A state tournament Most Valuable Player …

… the sweet-shooting forward who, along with junior guard Georgia Myrex, practically willed the Eagles back from a 16-point deficit with a game-high 29 points against Ider …

… a 2008 first team All-State selection and surely one again this year …

… an all-around big-game performer who pulled down 10 rebounds and plucked four steals in the championship comeback …

… and a huge loss for Cold Springs next year.

But even though it’s going to be next to impossible to replace the hole left by Parker in the Eagles’ lineup, don’t bet on Cold Springs rolling over in 2010.

For proof, just look to their most recent championship run.

Down the stretch, freshman Abby Myrex was a capable backup for sister Georgia at point guard. In the title game against Ider, the freshman handled the ball expertly during a key second-quarter stretch when the Hornets looked poised to blow the game open.

And Abby Myrex isn’t the only underclassman that will be ready to contribute.

Next year, Cold Springs could have another dominant presence in the post in Courtney Rice, a 5-foot-10 center. With Rice in the middle, forwards Palee Myrex and Jessi Harbison will be free to either roam the perimeter or patrol the paint.

So it’s not like the Eagles will be hurting for options once the new season rolls around next November.

In fact, every returning underclassman on the roster will have some big-game experience under their belt.

In the closing minutes of the win over Ider, West called all five starters over to the bench — a move that accomplished two things.

First, it gave Parker and Johnson the send-offs they deserved, thanks to a rowdy crowd at the BJCC.

But it also gave all those underclassmen a taste of what it feels like to play on the biggest stage in Alabama high school basketball.

And now they’ll want another.

Think that’ll come handy next season?

You can count on it.



Michael Cummings can be reached by email at michaelc@cullmantimes.com or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 258.

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