SYLACAUGA, Ala. – On Friday morning officials from the Alabama High School Athletic Association made a special trip to the Marble City to present the 2018 Class 5A State Championship trophy to the Sylacauga High School Varsity Boys basketball team. The Aggies defeated Eufaula 79-78 in overtime to take home their first basketball state title since 1988 on March 3.
The entire student body, along with faculty and staff, filled the Sylacauga High School Performing Arts Center for the presentation. The presentation included remarks from AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese and AHSAA Communications Director Ron Ingram.
Savarese held high praise for Head Coach William Copeland who has two final fours and a state title under his belt saying he is a great coach and that he had never seen someone as elated as Copeland after victories in the Final Four in Birmingham at the BJCC.
The team finished with a record 31 wins on the season on its way to a state championship, but at one point in the regional tournament was .6 seconds away from losing to Booker T. Washington High School (Tuskeegee). Senior Darian Garrett hit a three-point shot at the buzzer to keep the Aggies season alive and advance to the regional finals against Calera. “This is an exciting moment for us and the whole student body,” said senior Malik Crawford. Crawford was the MVP of the Class 5A State Tournament. “We were .6 seconds away from going home but we stuck with it and now we finally have the trophy.”
Crawford is also a finalist for Class 5A Player of the Year and Alabama’s Mr. Basketball for 2018.
The Aggies have had quite the journey since winning the title being featured in a parade and honored at a City Council meeting and a Sylacauga Board of Education meeting, but Copeland said it never gets old. “Anything that recognizes these guys for their work never gets old,” he said. “The feeling is wonderful and I can’t put it into words how much we enjoy being recognized for our team’s hard work.”
The parades and recognition are all earned according to Sylacauga Athletics Director Matt Griffith. “There are a lot of great coaches who coach all of their lives and never get to win one. People need to understand how special this is,” he said. ” This just does not happen often and I hope people realize this.”
As much as the title means to the players and coaches, it means just as much as to the student body. All speakers, including the players, thanked the student body for its support of the team throughout the season. Anderson Wykoff is a student at SHS and one of the leaders of the Sylacauga student section at Legion Stadium and Douglass-Martin Court. “Seeing this state championship be presented to the team means a lot to the whole school,” Wykoff. “It’s a testament to how hard this team worked. This is just awesome.”
An intriguing side note to the 2018 state title run lies with senior Luke Tankersley. His dad, John, was a senior on the 1988 state title team. Tankersley told SylacaugaNews.com the run to the state championship on the 30-year anniversary was special. “I always grew up wanting to win [a state championship]. Looking up and seeing the banners from my dad’s team, I knew I wanted one. “Tankersley said. “For it to be 30 years apart and be right on the anniversary, this is just special.”