By Blake Ells
As the Vestavia Hills basketball team works toward its championship goals, it spreads the ball around.
The Rebels average just less than 60 points a game, but no player averages double figures. Rian Shields is the leading scorer at 9.7 points per game, while Luke Champion is adding 9.3 points per game, Luke Couch is adding 8.7 points per game, and Paul Michael Hargrove is averaging 8.3 points per game.
“We’ve got a bunch of guys all right there together in the 7, 8, 9 point range and on any given night, one of those guys may go get 17 or 18,” said coach Patrick Davis. “So we don’t rely on one guy. We do it by committee. In a lot of ways, it makes it good because we’re not heavily dependent on just one guy. I would think that makes it a little tough to prepare for because you can’t just say, ‘Well, we’ve got to go stop these two guys.’”
That ball distribution, Davis said, is the nature of his team.
“We share it really well and we try to get shots from different places,” he said. “We’ve got a really unselfish group. They don’t care who scores; they just want to win. And they’ll do whatever it takes to be good.”
Ranked eighth in the state, Vestavia Hills moved to 18-6 after an area loss to Hoover on Jan. 16 and an area win over Tuscaloosa County on Jan. 19.
The team is preparing for two final area games this week, which will determine seeding for the area tournament: Thompson on Jan. 23 and a rematch with the Bucs on Jan. 26. Once seeding is determined, Vestavia Hills, Thompson, Tuscaloosa County and Hoover will compete to send two teams to the regional tournament.
Davis said the players are eager to meet Hoover again.
“We felt like we turned the ball over in some spots and gave them some easy buckets that, if we eliminate, it kind of narrows that gap a little bit,” Davis said. “Taking away some of those easy (points) is important.”
Just three other teams from Alabama have topped the Rebels this season: Helena in an early season contest, Parker and second-ranked Mountain Brook in a 46-42 game.
“We felt like we defended well, but we didn’t execute well enough offensively to win the (Mountain Brook) game,” Davis said.
Area tournament play begins Feb. 8. Between regular season area play and the area tournament, the Rebels will host Spain Park and travel to Clay-Chalkville. ❖