AUBURN –– The Auburn High girls basketball team is headed to the Final Four for the fourth time in the last six years, but head coach Courtney Pritchett and his girls aren’t satisfied leaving it at that.
Despite those runs and five years of dominance from senior Syriah Daniels, the Auburn girl’s program still has no state championships to show for it. The school sent the team off to Birmingham’s Legacy Arena this week in hopes that they return on Saturday, March 2, with a trophy.
“We’ve been getting [to the Final Four,] and I think it’s time that we turn the corner,” Pritchett said. “I’m appreciative of getting to this point, but it’s going to be really big for our program to get to the next level.”
Auburn began its playoff run by defeating Opelika and Central at home to win the area tournament. The Tigers went on to defeat Daphne and Foley to capture the regional tournament victory. They edged out a 62-57 win over Daphne before clinching a trip to the Final Four with a 53-51 win over Foley.
Daniels took home tournament MVP, but clutch shooting from juniors Brooke Hallman and Daley Alsobrook landed them on the All-Region Team as well. In the Elite Eight win, Hallman drained several clutch 3-pointers while leading the team with 18 points in addition to 17 from Daniels.
The Tigers pride themselves on dispersing their offensive production, and they got key contributions from several underclassmen in addition to their star scorers in two of their closest victories of the season in the regionals.
“We get what we get out of Syriah — she’s going to be a solid performer every time out — but it’s huge to get really big games out of Brooke and Daley. We’re going to need contributions from all of our starters,” Pritchett said. “We also had a great game from (freshman) Avari Bowley, who finished with four or five blocks. That kind of defensive stand really helped us turn the corner.”
Pritchett knows that the win over Foley won’t be the last hard-fought one, and it can’t be the last time the team gets contributions from a variety of players if Auburn is going to play for its first state championship on Saturday.
The coach said his goal is to have all five starters score eight points or more. It will take that kind of complete team effort to combat Hoover (27-7), who knocked off top-seeded Bob Jones in the Elite Eight. Auburn will face Hoover at 9 a.m. CST on Thursday with an opportunity for Daniels to put an exclamation point on her high school career.
This is Daniels’ fifth and final run with Auburn High before she goes to play for coach Johnnie Harris at Auburn University, and going out on top would complete a winning legacy she has helped build at Auburn High.
“I know that’s been her goal — to win a state championship. She’s ready to make that happen,” Pritchett said. “It’ll be great for her as well as the other (two seniors) who have been in the program. Jonah (Woods) has been in the program and Alethia (Coppenger) is a new senior. I can feel all of their excitement about wanting to have that win and represent for the city of Auburn.”
After Auburn’s Final Four matchup with Hoover on Thursday, the winner will await the outcome of Hewitt-Trussville versus Prattville. The winners will meet in Birmingham’s Legacy Arena on Saturday, March 2, at 4 p.m. CST.