Pelham’s Dalvin Coleman (22) scores two of his 11 points Friday night in the Region 1-AA Tournament Championship Game. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)
ALBANY — Shortly after Pelham High School’s boys basketball team claimed an 81-33 victory over Early County to clinch the Region 1-AA championship Friday night, official scorekeeper Miranda Robinson grabbed the microphone and the chant began.
“Pel-ham,” she shouted.
Then the capacity crowd responded with “Hor-nets.”
It was that kind of night for top-seeded Pelham, which destroyed Early County to repeat as Region 1-AA champions as the players hoisted the trophy at center court.
“We didn’t expect this,” Jaquan Green said. “We just wanted to go out and play hard.”
Pelham posted back-to-back convincing wins over Thomasville and Early to leave little doubt who the top team in the region was.
On a night where they weren’t on top of their game offensively, they used their defense to create turnovers and turned them into easy baskets inside the paint.
“Like I told them last night, we may not have played well on offense but we played solid on defense,” Pelham coach Laron Smith said. “That carried over into tonight’s game. I’m so proud of them.”
Smith said he continues to be impressed with his team’s improvement. They haven’t lost since falling to Class AAAAA power Warner Robins in the Turner County Christmas Tournament on Dec. 28. Their only other losses came to Seminole County, currently the top-ranked team in the Class A power rankings.
As long as it continues to win, Pelham will play host to state tournament games in the first three rounds. That’s good news because the Hornet’s Nest has been an intimidating place for opponents. In their last five games, Pelham has beaten opponents at home by at least 17 points.
Smith said it wasn’t just his starting five that played with intensity on Friday.
“They came out focused and committed,” Smith said. “They executed well on the offensive end and rebounded with authority. They pushed through to find the open man. All of them played that way. When we put our second group out there, I didn’t think we lost any intensity or energy.”
Because of inclement weather across the state, several region tournaments haven’t been completed. The Hornets don’t know who they will host next week, however, Green said his team doesn’t want to stop now.
Neither do they want their winning streak to come to an end.
“We’re just going to keep doing what our coaches tell us,” Green said. “We’ve got to jeep working hard and keep our intensity up. This isn’t over yet.”
The Hornets were led by Duntrez Moore’s 13 points, while Shaquille Crimley and Dalvin Coleman added 11 points apiece.
Early County, which finishes as the No. 2 seed, will play host to a first round game next Friday. Javarious Thornton and T. Harris finished with seven points each to lead the Bobcats.