Tornadoes Throw a Block Party

REFORM, Ala. -- Folks, I have been going to high school basketball games for about 35 years. I do not believe I have ever seen 15 blocked shots by one team. Admittedly, I never saw Shaq in high school, and only saw Robert Horry once. Well, I now have seen it.

Following a fine (but somewhat greasy) fried catfish dinner at Northport's Front Porch Restaurant, I journeyed down US 82 West to the tiny hamlet of Reform. There, I saw Alabama football signee Michael Williams swat six Southern Choctaw shots, and under-rated hoops recruit DeAndre Hersey slap five more to help their Pickens County Tornadoes to a resounding (as in, the sound of hand meeting leather) 69-46 win over the Indians in Class 2A sub-regional play.

Slashing 6-foot-3 athlete Mardrecas Hood led all scorers with 17 points. Hood, a junior who is also an SEC football prospect as a receiver/safety, added six boards. He went 2-for-4 on dunks, but like Hersey, his misses were spectacular.

"'Drique,' we had the first three games of the year, and then he had some personal issues he needed to address and get straight. He's done that, and he's been back for five games," said Tornadoes' coach Russ Wallace.

"'Drique' brings an aspect to our team that we haven't had all year. He's explosive. He can take it into the paint inside and finish."

Hood, who weighs 180, told he was still undecided as to whether to pursue football or basketball at the next level. He's got nearly a year to decide.

"'Drique's an incredible athlete. He could play both sports (in college)," Wallace said. "I think football's probably going to be his main sport, but he's got Ole Miss and Tennessee shooting him letters all the time for basketball."

Said Indians coach Charles Chaney, "(Hood's) a good athletic kid. He knows the game, and handles the ball well. He's in the right place at the right time. He's hard to stop."

Football-wise, Hood is recruited heavily by Alabama, Auburn and Mississippi State, among others.

Hersey, a 6-foot-6 senior being recruited for hoops by the likes of Mississippi State and South Alabama, scored 13 points. He pulled down eight boards (unofficially). Hersey went 3-for-6 on dunks, or he could have scored 19.

"DeAndre's 40 per cent of our points," Wallace noted. "He's a super kid. He's qualified (academically). He's our everything, right now."

Michael Williams (6-6, 265) scored 12 points and yanked down four boards. He averages around nine points per game.

"Michael's our mainstay," said Wallace. "He's an excellent basketball player. He could play at the next level in basketball. I've used him to break our press. He dominates the board. He requires double-teams."

All three players could have padded their stats had Wallace not elected to empty his bench following a Hood dunk and a 63-39 lead with 4:14 left in the game.

Lewis Foster scored 12 for the Indians, who finished their season 8-13. University of West Alabama football signee Lavanda Powe scored five points.

Pickens County (20-8) continues its season in Montgomery Wednesday morning at 10:30 in the Central Regional at Alabama State University. The Tornadoes will face Vincent, and are just two wins from the Final Four in Birmingham. (claick here)

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