Spring Garden’s girls basketball team appears regularly in the Northeast Regional, and it’s worth taking a moment to recount the legacy the Panthers have at the tournament.
Here’s five fast facts about the Panthers and their regional dominance:
1. Slow start
The Alabama High School Athletic Association began the regional tournament format in 1994.
It took a while for Spring Garden’s girls to make it to the event. They didn’t earn their first berth until 2002, the ninth year of regional play.
2. Rent is due
Since then, the Panthers should have been paying Jacksonville State rent on space in Pete Mathews Coliseum.
Starting in 2002 and including 2018, Spring Garden has appeared at the Northeast Regional in 16 of 17 tournaments. The only miss came in 2012.
3. Winning ways
Spring Garden has 11 Northeast Regional championships in 15 previous appearances. Three times the Panthers have finished as runner-up.
Only once, in 2014, were they one-and-done at Pete Mathews Coliseum. Overall, Spring Garden is 25-4 in Northeast Regional games.
4. MVP honors
Six Spring Garden players have received the award as MVP of the Northeast Regional. Latrisha Abernathy (2002) was the first. Mikie Garner won three times (2003, 2004, 2005).
Paige Anderson also won three times (2006, 2007, 2008). Kelsey Turner was MVP in 2010. Tykeah Rogers won twice (2015, 2016). 2017 winner Tiyonna Rogers was a junior last year and has a chance to pick up a second MVP this year.
5. State titles
Since 1994, the Northeast Regional tournament has produced exactly four Class 1A girls state championship teams.
Those four state champions are Spring Garden in 2004, Spring Garden in 2005, Spring Garden in 2008 and Spring Garden in 2016.