By Lee Davis
It’s always risky to use superlatives when describing anything, but it’s also easy to make the case that 2014-15 was the greatest season in the history of Over the Mountain boys’ basketball.
Hoover won the Class 7A state championship by defeating a Mountain Brook team that was going for its third consecutive title. In Class 6A, Homewood reached the Final Four and came within a hair of playing for the state crown.
Other schools turned in outstanding seasons as well. Spain Park, for example, won 24 games despite not qualifying for the playoffs.
The Over the Mountain area’s domination of Alabama basketball was reflected by the strength of the 2014-15 All-Over the Mountain Boys’ Basketball Team, chosen by an exclusive Over the Mountain Journal poll of boys’ head basketball coaches.
State champion Hoover placed four players on the squad as did runner-up Mountain Brook. Malik Cook Stroupe, Homewood’s outstanding senior guard, was chosen by the coaches as the 2014-15 Over the Mountain Player of the Year.
Stroupe averaged 17.5 points per game along with five assists and six rebounds in leading the Patriots to a 28-8 record and Final Four appearance. He also shot 75 percent from the free throw line and 37 percent from the three-point arc.
But Homewood coach Tim Shepler said Stroupe’s value can’t be measured by statistics alone.
“Malik was the centerpiece of our team,” Shepler said. “All the guys looked up to him. He really grew as a leader. Malik’s tangible contributions were obvious, but it was his intangible ones that made the difference in our season.”
Such success on the court also meant a good year for coaches. Hoover’s Charles Burkett, Mountain Brook’s Bucky McMillan and Homewood’s Shepler were named tri-Coaches of the Year by their peers in the profession.
“It’s always nice to receive an honor, but it’s really more about what our kids accomplished,” said Burkett, who directed the Bucs to a 27-9 mark and their first-ever state championship in boys’ basketball. “This team won with its heart and its courage as much as talent. It was a pleasure to coach.”
And while Mountain Brook fell just shy of earning its third straight title, McMillan said he was pleased with his team’s season.
“In terms of what we achieved based on where we were on the first day of practice, reaching the finals is probably a better accomplishment even compared to the things our last two teams did to win it all,” said McMillan, who guided his team to a 27-8 worksheet.
Other members of the All-OTM team are Justin Brown, Briarwood; Christian Wilson-Poole, John Carroll Catholic; Austin Patterson, Homewood; Sam Bowman, Maurice Brown, Austin Cherry and Dylan Smith, Hoover; Terrell Guy, Will Hartley, Jack Kline and Hunter Lucas, Mountain Brook; Payton Youngblood, Oak Mountain; Christian Greene and Elijah Jones, Shades Mountain Christian; Jamal Johnson and Austin Wiley, Spain Park; and Will Macoy and Sam Wiggins, Vestavia Hills.