February 23, 2010 9:10:00 AM
CARROLLTON, Ala. -- The trophy fits nicely in the hands of Tate Fuller, Catherine Johnson, and Callie Minor.
With one of the nets from the team''s victory Friday against Lakeside Christian draped on the trophy''s basketball, the players'' reflections blurred together as Johnson held the trophy Monday for a picture.
It was fitting way to end the season because the Lady Pirates'' success has been a team project. As seniors, Fuller, Johnson, and Minor have led the way and set the example the Lady Pirates used in a 53-39 victory at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Ala., to win the Alabama Independent Schools Association Class 2A state title.
For its accomplishment, the Pickens Academy girls basketball team is The Commercial Dispatch''s Prep Player of the Week.
"It is just an amazing feeling," Minor said. "I have wanted to do it ever since I started playing basketball."
Said Johnson, "It is unbelievable. It just shows how hard we have worked all season."
"It is a dream come true to win state," Fuller said.
Minor led Pickens Academy (28-3) with 18 points. She also had seven rebounds. True to form all season, the Lady Pirates had plenty of players contribute. Johnson had 13 points and nine assists, Tate Fuller added 11, and Lincoln Pearson grabbed 19 rebounds.
Minor paced the team in scoring and rebounding (14.7 points, 10.7 rebounds) for the season. Johnson was right behind with 12 ppg. She also led the team in assists (5.9 per game) and steals (4.0) and was fourth in rebounding (5.8). Fuller averaged 4.4 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.
Pickens Academy coach Wade Goodman said many times during the season that the seniors were the "backbone" of the team. He said freshmen Brittney Steen, Katie McKinzey, Whitney Lowe, Marianna Pratt, Breanna Stone, and Elisabeth Hankins and junior Lincoln Pearson will try to take the example the seniors set this season and build on its in for the 2010-11 season.
"They were always willing to work," Goodman said. "Since I have been here and they were in the 10th grade, they shared some of the duties for captains. In 11th grade, Catherine or Callie would be a captain every game. This year, we had three captains at center court before every game. There was no doubt any one of them wasn''t any more deserving than the others."
Fuller, Johnson, and Minor said team chemistry was essential in the team''s run to the title. They said all of the players complemented each other and were committed to practice and to everyone else.
"I think the game Friday was the best game that we played in a while," Minor said. "Everybody worked hard and knew what they were supposed to do."
Said Fuller, "We all communicated really well and rebounded well. We played as a team."
The seniors never doubted this season would end in a state championship. The Lady Pirates came close to reaching the Final Four the past two seasons.
This season, Fuller said the trust everyone had in each other might have been the difference. She said the seniors have played together for so long that it helped them set a positive example for their teammates.
"We all knew if we did what we were supposed to do that good things would happen for us, and they did," Johnson said. "We all did our parts."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.