By Lee Davis
Journal Sports Writer
All sorts of sports are represented in the jam-packed trophy cases at Mountain Brook High School.
Many of them are related to track and field or the so-called country club sports of golf and tennis. Two football trophies from the 1970s also stand out among the hardware.
But the old trophies are going to have to be rearranged, because a new one is on the way. And this one is coming from a sport that only the most fanatical Spartan fan would have predicted in December–boys’ basketball.
That’s right, the Mountain Brook Spartans are the new kings of Class 6A basketball in Alabama.
If you insist, call it a miracle, just like the 1969 New York Mets winning the World Series or the 1980 U.S. hockey team winning the Olympic gold medal.
But it wasn’t really a miracle. It was much greater than that.
This championship was about a team that never stopped believing in itself and always found a way to win. If the shots weren’t falling, the Spartans played defense. If the rebounds weren’t coming, the Spartans played more defense.
And when all was said and done, Mountain Brook finished with 30 victories and a state championship.
The Spartans nailed down the blue trophy with an easy 74-53 rout of Sparkman Saturday night at the BJCC. The Senators had whipped Mountain Brook 61-51 in December but never seriously challenged the Spartans in the game that mattered most.
After moving to a 19-16 lead after the opening period, Mountain Brook established permanent domination in the second quarter. The Spartans outscored Sparkman 20-4 and didn’t allow a single field goal. Armed with a 19-point halftime lead, the Spartans were home free.
“Defense has been the ongoing theme of our season,” said Mountain Brook coach Bucky McMillan, a Spartan basketball star a decade ago. “I think we’re the best defensive team in Alabama. I think we are underrated. Some folks didn’t even think we could win the (Northeast) regional.”
McMillan said his team didn’t do anything different for its second game with Sparkman.
“We had one of our best nights shooting,” he said. “We hit free throws and the three-point shot when we needed it.”
Mountain Brook shot 47 percent from the field and out-rebounded the Senators 42-33. The most telling number may have been that the Spartans rattled Sparkman into shooting a mere 30 percent from the field.
Malek Grant was named tournament MVP and keyed Mountain Brook with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Jeremy Berman contributed 16 points and five rebounds.
Lamonte Turner led Sparkman with 16 points.
But the tale of Mountain Brook in 2013 can’t be told without mentioning its collective sixth man, otherwise known as the legion of fans–8,000 strong showed up for the final–that cheered every basket.
Most of them wore some form of the neon yellow that became the Spartans’ unofficial team color. They came in all ages and sizes, from parents and grandparents to elementary school age-kids. Their passion was Mountain Brook basketball.
“I guess you can only draw a crowd like this if you’re a basketball coach,” said McMillan, grinning.
The young coach had plenty of reasons to grin. Another sport was adding a new contribution to Spartan athletic glory.