Confident Pickens County chases another title
Tue. February 28, 2012 at 1:00 a.m. | By Andrew Carroll
Pickens County’s Demarko Hall and the Tornadoes play against Georgiana in the Class 1A semifinals today in Birmingham. (Photo by Robert Sutton)
Coaching isn’t easy, but Patrick Plott didn’t have to rebuild the boys basketball program at Pickens County High School.
Under the direction of Russ Wallace, Pickens County won the AHSAA Class 2A championship in 2010 and the Class 1A title last year. After Wallace left for Buckhorn, Plott was hired to coach football and basketball.
Plott found out about the caliber of athletes he had available when his football team made a run to the state quarterfinals. Demarko Hall was voted the Class 1A Back of the Year by the Alabama Sports Writers Association.
The basketball team had a short time for preseason practice, but the Tornadoes are back in Birmingham to chase a third straight title.
"It was a little more difficult than just rolling the balls out there, but these guys know what it takes because Coach Wallace did a great job here," Plott said. "I wanted us to play good defense and get points off turnovers. So far they’ve done a good job of that, and they play so well together. It doesn’t matter to them who scores.
"Our guys are very versatile. We’ve usually got five guys that can score from anywhere on the floor."
Pickens County’s explosiveness was evident in the Northwest Regional. In the semifinal, the Tornadoes scored 34 points in the first quarter and beat R.A. Hubbard 88-46. Nick Stewart had 21 points, Hall 15, Warren Betts 14 and Bobby Bradford 13.
Bradford became a starter this season. Stewart was a sophomore when he made the game-winning shot in the third overtime as Pickens County beat Houston County to win the Class 2A title in 2010.
LaJuan Doss and Bradford are the tallest starters at 6-foot-1. Doss had seven points, seven assists, six steals and four rebounds.
Pickens County scored 48 points in the first half of the regional final and beat Marion County 89-67.
Hall and Betts had 20 points each. Doss scored 16 points and had six assists, six steals and five rebounds. Stewart had 10 points.
"We actually run five guards out there," Plott said. "Doss is one of those guys that does whatever it takes to win. Defensively, he usually guards one of the best guys on the other team. Warren Betts’ strength is driving to the basket. Nick is very athletic and can shoot the ball well. Demarko Hall can shoot the 3 and also take it to the basket.
"A lot of people might think that veteran guys are not going to listen to you. These guys take in everything you tell them. I haven’t done anything special. My job is making sure they’re in the right place at the right time, on and off the floor."
Reach Andrew Carroll at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0223.