With a thrilling 60-46 victory over the second-ranked Sunshine Tigers on Tuesday, the No. 3 Parrish Tornadoes earned the right to battle for Class 1A’s richest prize — the AHSAA State Championship trophy.
Parrish (28-2) will play the top-ranked St. Jude Pirates (23-5) on Friday at 11 a.m. at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex for the state championship. St. Jude, which won the title last year, defeated the Sacred Heart Pirates, 66-51 on Tuesday in its semi-final game.
The win did not come easily, however, as the Tornadoes were forced to overcome early foul trouble among the starting lineup as well as the speed and tenacity of the Tigers’ defense.
Despite the adversity, and a contest tied at the half, Parrish battled back to outscore Sunshine 42-28 in the final two periods to secure the semi-final victory.
Treyvon Chatman scored 16 points to lead the Tornadoes, going an impressive 4 of 5 from 3-point range. Barry Hill added 14 points and four blocked shots — shooting 6 for 6 from the field. Reginald Harris had nine points, while Jermichael Harris contributed eight points and 12 rebounds.
“We had seen Sunshine on film and we thought they were a really good team that would provide a tough matchup. We thought their length would give us some trouble so we wanted to control the paint and our smaller guys did a good job of that. I also felt we did a good job of guarding the short corner, as they are effective offensively on the corner,” Parrish coach Heath Burns said. “We dared them to try to shoot the 3-point shot and our guys executed the gameplan well. It was a great game and we’re proud to be playing for a state title.”
Treyvon Chatman credited good passes from Jermichael and Reginald Harris, along with encouraging words from his coaches before the game to helping him established his shooting rhythm.
“Both Jermichael and Reginald were drawing coverage, which left me open and in a good position to make the shots,” Treyvon said. “When we were warming up, I wasn’t making those shots, but the coaches just told me to relax and shoot a couple free throws to ease myself up. It really helped out. During the game I was able to find the basket much better.”
Jermichael Harris stated that the Tigers presented the toughest challenge defensively the Tornadoes had face this season.
“We’ve never met a team that fast, that long and that athletic. We knew we had to get together and execute well on offense and defense — we went out and did it, though they were a great challenge,” Jermichael said. “I thank God for the opportunity that has been given to us as without him, we couldn’t do anything.”
Hill made an early trip to the bench after picking up two fouls in the opening minutes of the contest. Mykelti Chatman came in to relieve him and scored five points along with four rebounds and two steals. Jermichael Harris hit a field goal with five seconds on the clock to give the Tornadoes the one-point first-period advantage, 11-10.
Both offenses struggled to put up points in the second period thanks to tough defensive efforts. Denzell Daley scored four points and collected three rebounds, three steals and a block, but the Tigers were able to outscore the Tornadoes 8-7 to tie the game at 18-18 at halftime.
With all five starters back on the court, the momentum shifted solidly to Parrish, with Hill and Treyvon Chatman scoring eight third-period points each. Reginald Harris hit a three-point shot at the buzzer to give the Tornadoes an eight-point lead, 42-34.
Up by as much as 17 points in the fourth period, Parrish controlled the tempo throughout the final minutes in regulation, cruising to a 60-46 victory and the program’s first berth in the AHSAA finals.
“It’s an honor that we got to this point, but for us to be able to come here and represent our school, community and our administration means a lot,” Burns said. “I wouldn’t want to go to battle with any other guys other than the 10 young men that surround this basketball program — we’re a family and we stress family throughout our school and our team, and God is at the head of it, we wouldn’t be here without him.”