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Title hopes remain for 24 teams

Contributed

Westminster Christian Academy boys’ basketball coach Ronnie Stapler reached a major milestone for coaches in the AHSAA Thursday night as the Wildcats (9-2) downed St. John Paul II Catholic 59-40.

The victory was the No. 800 for Stapler, who has been a head coach for 45 years in the AHSAA, propelled the long-time Huntsville area coach to the AHSAA Boys’ Basketball Spotlight – the first spotlight od 2021. He also joins a short list of just six boys’ basketball coaches in the AHSAA to reach that milestone.

Legendary coaches Eugene Mason (R.C. Hatch), Cap Brown (Parker) and Willie Scoggins (Ramsay) head the list with 919, 890 and 964 wins respectively. All three are now deceased.

Also reaching that achievement are Jack Doss, who came out of retirement to take over the Grissom program this season, and Woodie Jackson, who also came out of retirement three years ago and returned to Francis Marion, had 812 and 810 wins, respectively, heading into this season. Francis Marion, however, has cancelled its season due to COVID concerns.

Long-time Barbour County Coach Raymond White retired after a short stint at Carroll of Ozark with 794 career wins. Mobile legend LeVaughn Hanks retired in 1977 with a 794-301 record. Rounding out the all-time Top 10 in the AHSAA are Auburn’s Frank Tolbert (769-401), J.B. McClendon and Richard Robertson of Andalusia. Robertson was 749-357 in 50 seasons at Andalusia and Woodson (of Andalusia), and McClendon compiled a 749-401 record at Fayette County, Dothan, Hackleburg, Winfield, Hamilton and his own alma mater Scottsboro.

Stapler, 800-472 after Thursday’s win, led Grissom to Class 6A state titles in 1988 and 1999 and directed Westminster to the Class 4A crown in 2016. He also led a third team, Guntersville, to the AHSAA Class 4A state semifinals in 2008. His 1999 Grissom squad finished the season with 31 wins en route to the state title. He also coach girls’ basketball at Huntsville’s Randolph School for four years.

His coaching milestone edged out a record-setting performance by Tharptown Winston Nolen, a clutch effort by Montgomery Academy’s Britton Kohn and what has become a typical performance for Calhoun senior J.D. Davison.

Tharptown’s Nolen, a 6-foot-1 senior point guard, scored a school-record 47 points to lead the Class 2A Wildcats to a 71-61 win in the Bracy Invitational at Deshler High School last week. He scored 31 points in the first half and after the Flame took the lead 51-50 in the third quarter.

Kohn, a 6-2 senior guard for Montgomery Academy, sank a 0-foot jumper with 20 seconds left in regulation to tie the Eagles’ game with Georgiana 43-43 to force overtime, hit a 3-pointer to tie the game again early in extra period and then canned the game-winning 3 pointer in the final seconds to give Montgomery Academy a 52-51 OT victory at the Elba Holiday Classic. The clutch standout finished with 14 points, 10 in the second half and OT, and also handed out five assists in the win.

Davison, who signed in November with the University of Alabama, had 37 points to lead defending Class 2A state champion Calhoun (7-6) past Class 5A Greenville 83-80 last weekend. He finished the game 12-of-18 at the foul line, had three treys, 16 rebounds, five assists, three steals and four blocked shots. He opened the season in early November with 57 points in a win over Wilcox Central and is currently averaging 44 points a game, according to MaxPreps.