In a season where Parrish (27-1) earned Walker County and Area 13 championships, the Tornadoes clinched the right to play at the Northwest Regional Tournament next week on the campus of Wallace State College in Hanceville in their quest for an AHSAA state title.
Parrish coach Heath Burns said that playing in the region tournament has been a top priority for his team and being named as a Sweet 16 program is a rewarding experience. It will be Burns’ third trip to Wallace State; his first two outings came when he was coach of the Dora Bulldogs.
“Our guys are really excited about the chance to go to Hanceville — many of them have not had this experience. It will be my first trip with these young men who have worked so hard to get this opportunity. It’s been an honor and a pleasure to coach them,” Burns said. “It’s hard to explain the amount of effort they put into everything that they do — they deserve to go to the region tournament. I don’t think there is a more determined group of guys than the ones that are in our locker room.”
Burns also complimented the coaching and the play of Decatur Heritage, who finished the season 18-11.
“Decatur Heritage is a very well coached team who does so many things well on the court,” Burns said. “Their coach, Travis Case, is a dear friend of mine. He has them so fundamentally sound in the way they play. Those kids under his guidance are well prepared, respectful and a great group of young men. They have an excellent program.”
Jermichael Harris continued his stellar postseason play, leading the Tornadoes with 20 points and six steals. Tyler Sims also had a good night, scoring 18 points.
Junior Barry Hill turned in a double-double performance with 14 points and 10 rebounds and earned a spot on the Area 13 All-Tournament team.
“I am very proud of our team for working hard like we have this year. We come to practice getting ready for the next challenge ahead of us. Coach Burns has told us many times that anything can happen on the court, so we prepare to make sure our next game is not our last game,” Hill said. “We’re not going to stop working hard either — each one of us wants to succeed in the goals we have set as a team.”
Parrish’s offense and defense rolled in the first period, with Jermichael Harris and Sims scoring 8 points each for the 22-9 lead. Decatur Heritage held a 10-9 scoring edge in the second period, with the Tornadoes maintaining control of the game 31-19 going into the half. Parrish found offensive and defensive rhythm in the third period, outscoring the Eagles 17-5 for the 48-24 edge. Decatur Heritage held a 26-25 scoring edge in the fourth period, but the Tornadoes ultimately prevailed with the 73-50 final.
Parrish will take on the R.A. Hubbard Chiefs (16-7) at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Wallace State in Hanceville.