April 10, 2010 11:08:00 PM
Prior to the opening tip of the basketball season, the Pickens Academy Lady Pirates set a goal to win a state championship.
Pickens Academy coach Wade Goodman and senior forward Callie Minor were confident the Lady Patriots could accomplish the feat after making it to the Elite Eight of the state playoffs the previous two years.
"My expectations were very high," Minor said. "All of us girls had played together for a long time and I knew what we had as a team. I knew what kind of skills we had so I thought we''d be very good."
Led by Goodman on the bench and Minor on the court, the Lady Pirates lived up to the expecations and won the state championship that they had set their sights on at the beginning of the season.
Pickens Academy (28-3) capped a memorable season when it defeated Lakeside Christian 53-39 in the Alabama Independent School Association Class AA championship game on Feb. 19 at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Ala.
"It was a goal of ours to win the state championship," Goodman said. "I honestly think that anybody could have coached them to a state championship this year. It''s been nice to watch them mature over the past three years."
The 5-foot-10 Minor was instrumental in leading the Lady Pirates to the championship game with a game-high 18 points and seven rebounds.
For their roles in leading Pickens Academy to the title, Goodman is The Commercial Dispatch West Alabama girls coach of the year and Minor is the girls player of the year.
Minor was one of three seniors that provided leadership for the Lady Pirates en route the championship. The other seniors were Catherine Johnson and Tate Fuller.
Minor led the Lady Pirates in scoring and rebounding, averaging 17 points and 11 rebounds per game.
"She''s amazing with the things she can do on the court," Goodman said. "She knows exactly what her role is, which is rebounding and getting those hard inside points that we need.
"I stressed getting the ball inside to Callie. We''d get it to her and they didn''t have anybody that could stop her."
Minor helped Pickens Academy earn a No. 1 seed in the state tournament and that helped pave the path to the championship.
Minor put the team before herself in her quest to win the championsip.
"I just wanted to do the best I could," Minor said. "I wanted to make sure that every game I scored and got all the rebounds and do the best to my ability to help the team out."
Minor followed her older brother, 20-year old Carson, around while growing up and credits that for her development on the basketball court.
Carson played basketball at Pickens Academy, as well.
"He was pretty good," Minor said. "He always tells me I''m not as good as him, though. He played since he was in the seventh grade or eighth grade, maybe.
"It was tough (following him around). He was always hard on me. He was bigger than me, so it was tough."
Minor, who intends to attend Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa, Ala., also plays softball at Pickens Academy and is the team''s pitcher.
Meanwhile, Goodman coached the Lady Pirates to the championship in his third season at Pickens Academy.
The 36-year-old Goodman was coaching little league baseball and had never coached girls sports when he was approached about coaching the Lady Pirates.
"I just came in off the streets, basically," Goodman said. "I never dreamed I''d be coaching girls sports. Never. My whole reason for going down there (for an interview) was to get my foot in the door for the baseball job."
For not having experience coaching girls basketball prior to three years ago, Goodman is to be commended for the job he did with the Lady Pirates this season, Minor said.
Minor said Goodman demanded excellence and it led to a state championship.
"He did a very good job," Minor said. "He was tough on us, but we always did what he said. He was tough on us acting right and doing the right things. He taught us a lot this year. He was a very good coach and did all the right things.
"I think, maybe, he pushes us a lot more than other coaches do (with their players). He tries to make us do everything right. If we mess up he doesn''t say it''s all right. He wants us to do it right. He doesn''t let us get by with too much."
Goodman says he doesn''t accept failure and he believes that''s his best quality as a coach.
"I tell them they have to work to win," Goodman said. "You can''t take three days off from practice and expect to get better. You''re going to practice every day. You don''t have a rainout in the gym. We practice every day. I know in basketball they wish it would rain out, but we''re going to practice."
In Pickens Academy''s case this season, practice led to a state championship.