By Rubin E. Grant
Kee’vin Staples had been pushing the Mountain Brook boys lacrosse team all season to be ready when the playoffs arrived.
So, when Mountain Brook met archrival Vestavia Hills in the finals of the Alabama Lacrosse Championships on May 7 at Hoover’s Buccaneer Stadium, the Spartans were ready.
And when it came down to the final minute with the score tied 12-12, the Spartans were ready.
And when senior attacker Luke Calloway scored with 12 seconds remaining to give Mountain Brook a 13-12 victory, the Spartans were ready to celebrate their fourth consecutive state championship and sixth overall.
The Spartans also defeated the Rebels 18-5 during the regular season.
“We prepared all season for this,” Staples said. “We prepared to win, game after game and practice after practice.”
Senior midfielder Tommy Butrus led the Spartans with four goals in the championship game.
Calloway, Butrus and junior Vaughn Frost were named first-team all-state afterward. Vestavia Hills (12-3) also had three players named first-team all-state – attacker Max Hull and defenders Will Bond and Gabe Czeschin.
Staples, in his first season as the Spartans’ head coach, became the first black coach to win a state lacrosse title.
“It’s great to become the first one,” said Staples, a Birmingham native who played collegiately at Tennessee Wesleyan College. “I was an assistant last year and they turned it over to me this year.”
Mountain Brook finished the season 15-0, outscoring its opponents 198-63.
The Mountain Brook girls also won the state title, defeating Vestavia Hills 15-11 in the finals.
The Spartans lost 10-9 to the Rebels on April 19 during the regular season when both teams were undefeated, so winning the championship game was extra sweet.
“When we played the first time, I don’t think we played our best lacrosse, so we went into the championship game with a little chip on our shoulders,” Mountain Brook coach Hunter Faulconer said. “Our girls were hungry and focused and felt like they had something to prove.
“We revamped some of our offensive schemes and created some mismatches and our defensive coach Sharon Acoff put in a couple of wrinkles that we used for all our playoff games, and that made a difference.”
Mountain Brook took a 10-4 halftime lead and then held off Vestavia Hills’ comeback attempt in the second half.
Freshman midfielder Olivia Heaps led the Spartans with five goals. Freshman attacker Ruthie Armstrong had three goals and freshman attacker Libby Geisler had three goals and three assists. Freshman Ashby Russell was solid defensively with a block, an interception and several break-ups. Senior defender Serena Ashkenazi also played well.
Heaps, Armstrong and Ashkenazi were named first-team all-state along with freshman midfielder Meghan Donahue. Russell was named second-team all-state.
Vestavia Hills (15-1) had three players named first-team all-state, attacker Mary Nelson Litty, midfielder Alex Rountree and goalie Veronica Turner. Rebels defender Catherine Whitcomb was second team.
Mountain Brook finished with a 14-1 record while winning its second consecutive state title.