March 2, 2010 10:18:00 AM
Deion Curry and the Pickens County High School boys basketball team weren''t meant to be denied.
Curry was instrumental this past Thursday in helping Pickens County win its first state championship in school history.
The 5-foot-11 junior guard scored a game-high 31 points and had four rebounds, two assists and a steal to lead Pickens County past Houston County 88-86 in triple overtime in the Class 2A championship game of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Final 48 Championships at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center in Birmingham, Ala.
Curry helped No.1-ranked Pickens County (27-2) rally for a dramatic victory when it looked like all hope was lost. He was instrumental in helping the Tornadoes score seven unanswered points in the final 8.8 seconds to rally from an 86-81 deficit and escape with the win.
"When I saw we were down like that I started to get kind of emotional," Curry said. "It seemed like no matter how far we get, Pickens County can''t get over the hump. It seemed like we were cursed. But then it was like I wasn''t going to settle for that so I just kept fighting. Luckily it turned out for the best."
Curry helped Pickens County win the state championship after the Tornadoes lost in the semifinals to Calera in 2005 and Lanett in 2006.
He found inner strength to help ignite the comeback against Houston County when he made a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 8.8 seconds remaining to pull the Tornaodes within 86-84 and two free throws with 5.9 seconds left to tie the score 86-86.
For his contribution, Curry is The Commercial Dispatch Prep Player of the Week.
The Tornadoes completed the rally when Nick Stewart stole a pass and made the winning shot with 0.3 seconds left, touching off a mass celebration.
"The only thing that was on my mind was not letting my community down and finding a way to help my team win that game," Curry said.
Curry made the free throws with 5.9 seconds left after missing two with 2:07 remaining and another with 2:02 to go in the third overtime.
But to Curry''s credit, he overcame pain to find his way to the charity stripe with 2:07 left after he was knocked over one table and under another at press row.
"When I first flew over the table, I thought I had messed up my hip again," Curry said. "I was laying there and all that was going through my mind was, ''You''re going to have to find some kind of a way to get up, pull yourself together, help lead your team because my team looks at me as a leader.'' I''m not a senior, but they look to me for leadership. The only thing going through my mind was. ''Get up, get up, you''re going to have to fin a way to get up, suck it up, fight through it.''"
Curry suffered a hip-pointer in practice prior to Pickens County''s game against Paul Bryant High School, of Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Jan. 26 and he aggrivated his hip when he crashed into press row.
Curry was inspired to get up as he recalled a speech by Pickens County coach Russ Wallace.
"Once again, the only thing that was going through my mind was, ''You''re going to have to fight through it,''" Curry said. "Like our coach, he was stressing all week he said, ''We''ve got one more game left and if we can make it through this one we can rest all week.'' That was something that kept pounding in my head. If you can make it through this you''ll have time to rest and heal. That''s just kind of what I did."
Curry helped Pickens County make it to the championship game by scoring 17 points to go along with six rebounds, three assists and four steals against Sand Rock in the semifinals.
For his two performances, Curry was chosen the MVP of the state tournament.
"The MVP really didn''t mean too much to me," Curry said. "Just the fact we won the state championship and we brought the first state championship to Reform was amazing. I''d take the state championship over MVP any day."
Curry was also chosen the MVP of the Class 2A Central Regional at Montgomery, Ala.
"Deion Curry carried this basketball team in the regionals and in the Final Four," Wallace said. "He doesn''t accept defeat. He''s going to fight and claw.
"We wouldn''t have won it without him because he flat stepped up when we needed him the most. When he had to, he did it."
The Tornadoes returned home Friday after spening Thursday night at the Sheraton Hotel in Birmingham and received a police escort eight miles from Gordo, Ala., to Pickens County High School.
"It was like the whole town was there to support us and it made us feel good," Curry said. "We were hanging out the window (on the bus) cheering with excitement. It seemed like it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
"It means so much, not only to me but our whole town. As we were walking the streets, people we didn''t even know were telling us congratulations and how proud they are of us. It made me feel like we have done so much for the town."
Curry is one of 10 underclassmen on the team and hopes to have the opportunity to experience another state championship.
1. MSU vs. Southern Mississippi: Five Things to Watch COLLEGE SPORTS
2. Oak HIll Academy looks to stop skid in series with Heritage Academy HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. New Hope looks for continued improvement against Columbus HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. No. 1 EMCC faces No. 4 Co-Lin in MACJC showdown COLLEGE SPORTS
5. Game of Week: Starkville, West Point renew HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS