Twenty-four seniors have been selected from each state for the game, which will be played March 20 in Montgomery.
Three boys who have signed with Alabama highlight the team, led by 2015 Class 6A state tournament MVP Brandon Austin of state champion Carver-Montgomery. The 6-5 forward averaged 18 points as a senior.
He will be joined by fellow Crimson Tide signees Donta' Hall of Luverne and Dazon Ingram of Theodore. The 6-0 Hall led the Tigers to the 2A state finals in 2014 while Ingram, a 6-5 guard, averaged 20.8 points and 10.9 rebounds per game in sparking Theodore (28-5) to its first Class 7A state basketball tournament trip.
Headlining the Alabama girls’ squad is Shaquera Wade of Huntsville (32-4), The Crimson Tide signee averaged 18.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per game.
The games will be played at Alabama State University’s Dunn-Oliver Acadome. The girls game will tip off at 5 p.m. and the boys game will follow at 7 p.m.
Lee-Montgomery’s 6-9 duo, Tommy Burton and Trenton Clayton, will join Hall on the post along with 6-7 forward Gerron Scissum of Lee-Huntsville. Scissum averaged 16.4 points while helping Lee reach the 6A state finals while Burton and Clayton, who averaged 16.4 and 10.3 ppg, respectively, led Montgomery-Lee to a 29-4 record and Class 7A state tournament berth.
Scissum and Burton are currently undecided about their college plans while Clayton is heading to Southeastern Louisiana. Guard Lawson Schaffer of Cullman, who sank 17-of-17 free throws in a 71-68 overtime win over Athens in the Northwest Regional semifinals, comes in as one of the state’s most accurate free-throw shooters in AHSAA history. Homewood guard Malik Cook-Stroup, who averaged 16.9 ppg in leading Homewood to the Class 6A state tournament, will join Schaffer in the backcourt.
Other top players on the Alabama girls team are Wade’s Huntsville teammate Ta’Naisha Hill and Chloe Long and Rayven Pearson of Hazel Green (29-6), also 7A Tournament participants.
Also named to the girls’ squad is Brantley 6-foot forward Amahni Upshaw, a three-time Class 1A All-State tournament selection. Upshaw, who averaged 10.1 points and 11.9 rebounds, was Class 1A state tournament MVP in 2014.
The games were played in Mississippi for the first time since 2002 last year, but return to Alabama this year. The games rotated between the two states from 1991-2002 but moved to Pelham Convention Center in 2003 where they remained through 2011. Alabama State hosted the games at Dunn-Oliver Acadome in 2012 and 2013.
Alabama won the boys’ game last year 90-83 with Mississippi winning the girls’ game 95-89. The Alabama boys now hold a 13-11 edge in the series while the girls’ series is even at 12-12.
Coaches for the Alabama girls’ squad are Donnie Roberts of Red Bay and LaKenya Knight of Jeff Davis. Roberts, 64, is the state’s all-leading career wins leader for girls’ basketball with an 835-347 slate over 42 seasons. He directed Red Bay (25-9) to the Class 2A state championship in 2015 and was 2A runner-up in 2014. Knight, 41, coached Jeff Davis (31-4) to the AHSAA’s first Class 7A state title this season. She has compiled a 219-66 record in 12 seasons. Brenda Mayes of Muscle Shoals is the administrative coach.
Coaches for Alabama’s boys are Hoover High School’s Charles Burkett and Obadiah Threadgill IV of Lafayette. Burkett directed the Bucs (27-9) to the Class 7A state championship winning 50-43 in the finals to beat two-time state champion Mountain Brook. Threadgill, 78-36 in four seasons, directed LaFayette (25-5) to the Class 2A state championship with a 69-39 win over defending champion Elba in the finals. He is the son of Notasulga coaching legend Obadiah Threadgill III. Burkett’s career record was unavailable. Jamie Lee of Decatur is the administrative coach.