Jasper’s boys basketball team has gone through some tough times in recent years.
That’s what makes this year’s run to the Northwest Regional Tournament that much more exciting.
Jasper faces No. 6 Lawrence County at 10:30 a.m. today at Wallace State Hanceville’s Tom Drake Coliseum.
“We’ve gone through some rough years, but we are having fun now. This team is like a brotherhood,” junior guard Trinity Epps said.
Coming into this season, the Vikings had suffered through a pair of losing seasons, winning a total of 20 games. However, last season ended on a high note with Jasper winning an improbable area championship at Mortimer Jordan, and taking No. 2 Fairfield to the limit in the sub-region round of the playoffs.
“In our last game last year, we only lost to Fairfield by eight points. We were allowing a lot easy buckets,” said Kaden Shelton, one of eight seniors on the team. “This year we were able to pull it off. It means a lot to us to get (to the regional tournament). It’s the first time for all of us.”
Along with Shelton, Averiun Berry, Sheldrick Cherry, Brent Geeter, Anthony Harris, Antione Harris, Drew Martin and Harrison Saunders are seniors on the squad.
Jasper (19-12) earned its regional berth with a thrilling 58-55 win over defending state champion Wenonah, the fourth-ranked team in Class 5A, in their sub-region game at Carl Cannon Coliseum on Tuesday.
Geeter made the game-winning 3-pointer with 11 seconds left, breaking a 55-55 tie.
The Vikings are at the regional for the first time since making four straight trips from 2008-11.
“It’s huge. All the hard work, the AAU in the summer, the morning practices — it makes it all worth it,” junior guard John David Harrell said. “The less people believe in us, the more we want to win.”
Lawrence County brings a 27-4 record into the game. The Red Devils are currently on a nine-game winning streak.
Jasper has won five of its last six — and brings plenty of confidence into today’s matchup.
“I believed we could make it this far. (Beating Wenonah) is huge for momentum. You beat the defending champ, and they were ranked No. 4. It’s a boost for the next game. Now we can make some noise because at Wallace, anything can happen,” Epps said.