By Lee Davis
The Homewood Lady Patriots did not repeat as state Class 6A basketball champions in 2015-16, but they accomplished just about everything else.
Despite not having a senior on its roster, Homewood rolled to a 27-7 record and spent the entire season as the state’s top-ranked team before eventually losing to hot-shooting LeFlore in the Class 6A finals.
The Lady Patriots weren’t the only area Class 6A team that made an impression on the basketball landscape in 2015-16. John Carroll Catholic – under the leadership of rookie head coach Ronald Steele – posted a 23-8 record and earned a berth in the state semi-finals.
The impressive seasons of Homewood and John Carroll weren’t lost on the coaches who selected the 2015-16 All-Over the Mountain team.
Three Lady Patriots – guard Hannah Barber and forwards Ajah Wayne and Tori Ward – were selected for the elite squad. Barber and Wayne, both sophomores, were chosen as Co-Over the Mountain Player of the Year.
Steele was selected by his professional peers as the 2015-16 Over the Mountain Girls Coach of the Year.
Barber, who also was named OTM Player of the Year last season, is the first girl to win the honor in consecutive seasons since Hoover legend Sidney Spencer more than a decade ago. She averaged 12.5 points and 5.1 assists per game, while earning all-state, all-metro, and Final Four All-Tournament honors.
Since taking control of the Homewood offense as an eighth-grader two years ago, Barber has piloted the Lady Patriots to a 77-17 record and a state title.
“It’s such an honor to be named Co-Player of the Year, and there’s nobody I’d rather share it with than Ajah,” Barber said. “It’s a humbling achievement to go back to back as Player of the Year, but all I can do is thank God, my teammates and my coaches. It means a lot because I was selected by respected coaches from such a competitive group of student-athletes from all our area schools.”
Wayne joined Barber to give Homewood a nearly unstoppable scoring tandem. She averaged 17 points and nearly eight rebounds per contest on the way to earning her place on the all-state and all-metro teams. Wayne is recovering from an ankle injury she suffered in the championship game loss to LeFlore.
Steele, a former University of Alabama star, took over the girls program at his high school alma mater at the conclusion of the 2014-15 season and immediately led John Carroll to a stunning climb. By earning Coach of the Year honors, Steele became the first former All-Over the Mountain basketball player to also be named Coach of the Year.
“This is a fine honor, but it’s our young ladies who deserve the credit,” Steele said. “Anything we achieved was because of their dedication and hard work. I was blessed to be a small part of it.”
John Carroll also is represented by guard Roni Richardson – a four-time All-Over the Mountain selection, and Katie Gagliano.
Other players selected for the team are Shelly Proctor, Briarwood; Jailyn Maddox and Kendra Langham, Hoover; Sara Carr, Mountain Brook; Jacoby Sims, Oak Mountain; Claire Holt and Elizabeth Philpot, Spain Park; and Jessica Compton, Vestavia Hills.
Follow this link for the 2015-16 All-OTM Boys Basketball Team.