BIRMINGHAM -- You can’t measure Keaton Wilson’s impact in Sylacauga’s 79-78 overtime win over Eufaula in Saturday’s Class 5A state championship game by looking in the scoring column.
Wilson only scored five points, but he did all the small things that it took to help the Aggies win their first state championship since 1988.
Wilson controlled the boards for Sylacauga as he hauled in a game-high 13. His lone field goal came off a steal he took in for a layup to give Sylacauga a 52-51 lead. He also had three blocks, one of which made his brother, former Sylacauga standout Kelsey Pope, come to his feet. The senior guard also dished out two assists and finished with two steals.
“I knew my role on the team is not (as) a big scorer, so I just had to play my part, play defense and get stops for my team,” Wilson said.
Bench stepped up
Sylacauga received big-time minutes and production from several players off the bench. Desmon Jones scored six of his 16 points in overtime to help the Aggies win. He also had nine boards.
Aametrius Sanders also made his presence felt in his four minutes of action.
In the second quarter, three of Sylacauga’s starters -- Malik Crawford, Erron Bryant and Darian Garrett -- had two fouls.
Within three seconds of entering the game, Sanders hit a jumper to pull the Aggies even at 29-all. On the next trip down the court, he picked up an assist as he found Garrett for a 3-pointer. Sanders also contributed a layup to give Sylacauga a 34-31 lead going into halftime.
“I had to get in the game and pick it up,” Sanders said. “I got in there for a couple minutes. I had to go in there and rebound and play defense… It feels amazing to be a champion.”
Minor setback, major come up
Sylacauga assistant coach Cecil Hollinquest joined the Aggies coaching staff this season. Last season, Hollinquest was the head coach at Tallassee. Hollinquest served as the Tigers head coach for two seasons before being released. Hollinquest has served time as an assistant coach at Ben Russell as well as B.B.Comer and Winterboro. The veteran coach said he is grateful to be a part of championship-winning coaching staff.
“First of all, I give God all the honor and praise,” Hollinquest said. “Through all that I have been through, there were a couple of times that I was close to making to the Final Four. We went to the regionals, but never had a state championship. Last year, I was coaching at Tallassee High School and I was released. Sylacauga picked me up, and it has been wonderful ever since. Thank God for (Superintendent) Dr. (Todd) Freeman and Coach (Will) Copeland for bringing me aboard.”