The bull's-eye was big this season. The target on the backs of Christ Presbyterian Academy players will be even larger next basketball season.
Just after the Lions completed a repeat of their Class AA state championship at MTSU Saturday night, coach Drew Maddux already fielded questions about a possible three-peat.
The Lions had no seniors yet were dominant from start to finish this season, capped by Saturday’s 63-42 victory over Jackson South Side in the Class AA state championship game. They won all three state tournament games last week by at least 15 points.
“We’re going to enjoy this one for at least a little while,” Maddux, whose team went 37-2 record for the second straight year, said. “We never really talked about repeating, our team just came in with a workmanlike approach to each game. That’s the way our outlook will be next year as well.
“I really like how our team continued to grow and improve as we went along and came to love each other as teammates as they took on each challenge.”
CPA has won 63 straight games against in-state opponents. Its last loss was in December 2011.
As he has done the previous two years, Maddux already has scheduled some top tournaments for next season. The idea is to seek out top competition to prepare his team for the postseason.
The Lions will play at the Oak Hill Invitational, along with the Simeon Tournament in Chicago in December. Host Simeon won the Illinois 4A state championship over the weekend.
Like last season, CPA also enjoyed a very rare trifecta, claiming the state championship, the tournament MVP and Mr. Basketball awards, the latter two to junior star Jalen Lindsey. Last year, Craig Bradshaw (now at Belmont) swept the two individual honors.
“It’s kind of cool to win MVP and Mr. Basketball, but that’s a result of the team concept, which coach Maddux preaches,” Lindsey, a junior and four-year starter, said. “It’s great to win the championship again. We all executed together as a team. It’s been fun.”
In the three state tournament games, Lindsey, who is fielding an avalanche of major college offers, had 57 points and 30 rebounds. His big game came in the semifinals against Livingston, when he had 25 points and 16 rebounds.
Limited by early foul trouble, Lindsey had just nine points and seven rebounds in the championship game. However, Maddux challenged his team Saturday to contain South Side Mr. Basketball finalist A.J. Merriweather.
“He scored just two points [his playing time was limited by foul trouble] and just four rebounds,” Maddux said. “And we had 17 steals and 24 turnovers forced, amazing job.”
CPA became the first team in TSSAA history to win the girls and boys state championships in consecutive years. CPA’s girls repeated their AA title a week earlier and finished 30-7.
Only four times in Tennessee history had a school won both championships in the same season. CPA was the fourth last year.
“This speaks volumes to coach [Becky] LeGate and her program,” Maddux said. “We are very close and we work a lot of the same camps together. It is so special to see our two teams go 12-0 combined at MTSU, with four championships between us, over the two seasons.”
As is the norm with many champions, it is the unsung heroes who make a difference.
Saturday it was 6-foot-3 junior guard Coleman Spann, who came off the bench in the third quarter and rifled in two straight 3-pointers as South Side was making a rally.
“Once I hit the first one, my confidence went up,” he said. “Then that helped as I was able to make the second one.
“Everyone played well, we answered each challenge.”
Similarly, 6-foot-5 wing Jake Allsmiller overcame a mini-slump earlier in the tournament and scored a game-high 20 points in the title game. He made six of 12 3-pointers and hit two free throws.
“I told him [Saturday] morning he would make six-eight 3s, and he proved me right,” Maddux said.
Allsmiller added four rebounds and three steals. Forward Braxton Blackwell added 12 points. Guard Braxton Bonds had four assists.
Lindsey, Allsmiller, Blackwell and Thomas Richard all made all-tournament team.
“Once I finally started making them again, my confidence just sky-rocketed,” Allsmiller said. “Winning two straight [state championships] is amazing, especially with the big target on our backs all season. Just winning one was unbelievable.”
• Brentwood’s season ended with a 54-32 loss to Southwind in Friday’s Class AAA semifinals.
“I knew going in that we were going have to play a perfect game to beat them,” coach Dennis King said. “They are so long and athletic and so hard to defend.”
Southwind ultimately won the AAA title.
The Bruins (30-5) still set a school record for wins and their first state tournament appearance. In the quarterfinals they won 51-48 over the state’s top-ranked team in Blackman.
“We have four starters back, so we have a chance to be better,” King said. “This year’s team was special, and it will be hard to improve on what they did.”
• Within a year, CPA senior Meredith Roman was a key player on teams that won three state championships: basketball and soccer last year and basketball again a week ago.
• Attendance for the boys state tournament was 42,135 for the four days, which included 8,395 for the three finals Saturday.
• Spring sports jump onto the calendar with baseball, softball, soccer, tennis and track and field now front and center. One of the big upcoming track meets is the prestigious Doug Hall Relays at MBA April 13. The annual Spring Fling is again in Murfreesboro May 20-25.