Pinson Valley wins first area championship since 2002
By Gary Lloyd
The last time Pinson Valley won an area basketball tournament, current senior guard Marcus Merriweather was in grade school.
On Monday night at Center Point, Merriweather was leading Pinson Valley to the title.
Pinson Valley gutted out a 57-56 thriller of a win over rival Center Point, earning the Class 5A, Area 11 championship.
“It feels like we just won a championship, which we just did,” said Merriweather, who scored 19 points and was named the tournament’s MVP.
Tied at 56 with :43 to play, Devin Gary’s defense forced a five-second call against Center Point. Merriweather was then fouled with :16 left to play. He split a pair of free throws to put Pinson Valley up by one.
Center Point then fumbled the inbounds pass out of bounds and promptly stole the ball from Pinson Valley on its inbounds with :3.9 remaining. After a Center Point timeout and a near steal by Pinson Valley that left the ball out of bounds under the Center Point basket, the home team had :1.1 left to win the game. Darreyl Purnell’s long fadeaway was an air ball, preserving the Pinson Valley win, its first in four tries against Center Point this season.
“I told these guys, ‘If you keep believing, you keep working, you keep fighting, it’ll work out in our favor in the end,’” said Pinson Valley head coach Clint Argo. “Tonight, they never gave up. They never gave up.”
Neither team led by more than three points in a low-scoring second half. The game saw 13 lead changes. Center Point led by as many as eight points in the first half. Pinson Valley never quit fighting, Gary said. The team’s defensive standout said this team’s chemistry is solid. They study for tests together, go to the movies and play video games.
“It shows on the floor,” said Gary, who scored 12 points.
Johnathan Marable scored 10 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked two shots for Pinson Valley.
Jeffery Hodge led Center Point with 22 points.
All five Pinson Valley starters — Merriweather, Gary, Marable, Zach Jackson and Kerry Griffith — were named to the all-tournament team.
“It feels great,” Gary said. “I mean, we just won the area championship.”
Pinson Valley will host Ramsay in the Northeast Sub-Regional round of the state playoffs Friday.
Contact Gary Lloyd at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.