By Lee Davis
Many basketball players say they enjoy playing defense.
Some of them actually mean it.
One of those is Mountain Brook junior guard Sean Elmore. When he says that his favorite thing to do on a basketball court is to prevent a score, you believe him.
“I love to get defensive stops,” Elmore says to anyone who’s interested. “It’s one of the best feelings that there is in this game.”
With that kind of attitude, Elmore would be an asset to the Spartans even if he wasn’t a serious offensive threat. Being one of the most effective three-point shooters in Alabama makes him the ultimate basketball weapon.
“Sean is competitive, plays great defense and can hit the threes,” said Mountain Brook coach Bucky McMillan. “That’s a great combination for anybody. He’s also one of those guys who can’t stand to lose.”
Elmore was a big reason the Spartans entered the Class 7A Northwest Regional at Jacksonville State with a 27-5 record and high rank- ing in the polls. Through 32 games, he averaged 12.8 points per game, along with five rebounds, two assists and two steals. From the three-point stripe, Elmore connected on 72 of 170 attempts for a sizzling 42 percent. He’s also a 74 percent free throw shooter.
On Feb. 10, Elmore reached a personal milestone when he scored his 1,000th career point in a Mountain Brook victory over Oak Mountain. That total includes the points he scored during his freshman season, when he earned a starting position with Hewitt-Trussville. After a year with the Huskies, Elmore transferred to Mountain Brook.
Elmore’s appreciation of the importance of defense and team play is typical of this Spartan team, which McMillan said is among the most unselfish he has ever coached. And while standout forward Trendon Watford has more than lived up to his pre-season expectations, the coach said that Mountain Brook is far more than a one-man show.
“This team has had more assists than any team I’ve ever coached,” McMillan said. “People who haven’t seen us play assume we’re nothing except Trendon scoring a lot of points. But that’s far from the truth and the numbers support it.”
McMillan said the team concept starts at the top and works its way down the entire Spartan roster.
“Everyone truly buys into the philosophy of passing on good shots to get the ball to a teammate who has a great shot,” he explained. “Trendon could get a shot off every time he comes down the floor but he chooses to play the game the right way. Our reserves may not get a shot at all because they want to do what’s best for the team.”
Mountain Brook’s basketball maturity belies the youth of its players.
“I’m pretty sure we are the youngest Class 7A team in the state,” McMillan said. “When breaking down minutes played over the course of the season, only one of our top eight players is a senior, along with three juniors, three sophomores and a freshman. To have this much success and be this young gets overlooked, but it’s impressive when you consider the average age on this team is around 16, com- pared with many teams that are loaded with 18-year-olds.”
With a roster so young, Mountain Brook’s future is bright. The present is looking good as well.
After putting together back-to-back state championships in 2013 and 2014, the Spartans reached the Class 7A finals in 2015 but were eliminated by Gadsden City in the Northwest Regionals last season. Coincidentally, Mountain Brook was to face the Titans in the first round of the regionals this season – a fact not lost on Elmore.
“It was a bad feeling to lose (to Gadsden City) last year,” he said. “We don’t want that feeling again. Mountain Brook is supposed to be in the Final Four and that’s where we want to be.”
If the Spartans make the championship round again, the defensive and shooting skills of Sean Elmore may well help them get there.