BY TIM GAYLE
SPORTS WRITER, SPECIAL TO EAN
PRATTVILLE — Basketball or volleyball?
Fortunately, Hannah Jones, a junior at Prattville Christian Academy, never had to make that choice.
When Alabama All-Stars Sports Week was launched in 1997, high school athletes from across the state were invited to participate in the capital. All-star games were held at Paterson Field (baseball), Lagoon Park (softball), AUM (boys and girls basketball) and Cramton Bowl (soccer) initially, adding the Emory Folmar Soccer Complex a year later when football been added. He moved to Huntsville in 2005 when downtown renovations eliminated the Montgomery Civic Center – site of the high school’s annual coaches convention – and returned in 2011 to host the first sporting event in the newly renovated Cramton Bowl.
The first athlete to compete in multiple all-star events was Avery House of Springville High, who was selected to play on the Northeast boys’ basketball team in 2000 and then selected to compete in the only sport that involved seniors. – football – the following year. Since the players arrived at the start of the week and trained for at least a day with their teams, any player selected for more than one sport had to choose one and drop the other.
Everything changed with the coronavirus pandemic. All-Star Games were canceled in 2020 and when they resumed in 2021, local universities refused to house the athletes, forcing high school officials to bring in the athletes on the day of the event. This allows Jones to become the first athlete to compete in multiple sports in the same year, playing basketball on Tuesdays and volleyball on Thursdays.
“I’m honestly grateful, Jesus is blessing me and everyone by my side – my teammates, my family,” she said. “I’m just happy to have this opportunity and to be able to show my skills in both sports.”
Jones is an outstanding performer in both sports, a dominant outside hitter in volleyball and a physical presence in the paint in basketball.
“I think she’s one of the top five volleyball players in the state and one of the top five basketball players in the state,” the basketball coach said. Prattville Christian, Jason Roberson. “You can be dominant in both sports. I love that Hannah uses her God-given gifts and abilities to play both. Some people focused on what they thought they played in college or what they thought they liked the most. As we are a small school, Hannah really helps us by being our best volleyball and basketball player.
Jones already got his first taste of all-star volleyball action when the South team held a practice session earlier this month.
“It was exciting to play with Lennon (McAnnally) of (Catholic), my former teammate, and see everyone else I know from the camps,” she said.
The volleyball game will wrap up All-Stars Sports Week on Thursday. Despite the strong performance of volleyball in South Alabama, especially in the Capital and Mobile, the North has a 14-9 advantage in the All-Star Series. PCA coach Kaylon Cantrell believes the South, and especially its best athlete, can hold their own in the competition.
“I think she can dominate wherever we put her on the court,” Cantrell said. “If I needed her to be a setter, she could do it and she would be the best setter in the team. I’m glad she’s (a) outside (hitter) for us, just from what I’ve seen in camp. But she will probably move, swing to the middle and to the right.
“She gets to work. I nominated her (for the All-Star Game) but to me, in my mind, it was obvious that she would be selected to the team because of her skill level.
In basketball, she is part of a quartet of local stars in the game, joining Emma Kate Smith of Trinity, KK Hall of St. James and post teammate CoCo Thomas.
“I think it’s special to have my teammate by my side,” Jones said.
Roberson admits he was pleasantly surprised when the 15-man roster was released and it included both Jones and Thomas.
“I think there are times when as a coach you name players and keep your fingers crossed you know it could be a long time,” Roberson said. “But I had no doubt in my mind that Hannah was going to be on the basketball team. She’s one of the best players in the state. She’s a really big reason why we won the last two state championships. Without her, it doesn’t happen.
“She averaged 17 points and 11 rebounds per game on a very good team that won the state championship. You are not going to exclude that from the North-South game. CoCo also had an incredible year. She also averaged a double-double. It’s hard for anyone to have two players, but in my heart and in my head, I knew CoCo deserved it.
The Southern Stars have often been competitive but rarely victorious, losing 21 of 24 previous encounters.
“I feel like the North has a lot of talent, but I feel like people don’t really recognize the players from the South,” Jones said. “So I’m going to go out there and push as hard as I can and try to prove a point. I want to win in both (events). That’s the only thing I’m excited for.
Roberson thinks Tuesday night’s girls’ basketball game will be competitive and is excited to see how Jones and Thomas, dominant in the 3A rankings for the past two seasons, will face a team from the North that includes seven 6A-7A players. .
“I’m not predicting the South is going to win, but I think it will be competitive because a lot of the girls on the South team may be from small schools, but they played really good competition,” Roberson said. . “We (PCA) played great competition and were successful, Trinity played great competition and had great success – Emma Kate can play with anyone in the state – and St. James (with KK Hall) and coach (Katie) Barton play incredible competition. So I think these girls are a little more suited to play with some of these athletes from the bigger schools in the North.
For Jones, it’s more than a game. She’s dominated two sports for the past two years, sparking some college interest in volleyball and basketball. The All-Star Game gives him the opportunity to assess his abilities against a great roster.
“I still haven’t decided which one I want to play or if I even want to play both,” she said. “I know there are a lot of talented people in the North team, so that’s going to push me for sure.”
ALABAMA ALL-STAR SPORTS WEEK
Monday July 18
Golf for boys and girls, Arrowhead Country Club, 10 a.m.
Baseball, Riverwalk Stadium, 4 p.m.
tuesday july 19
Girls Cross-Country Skiing, Gateway Park, 7:30 a.m.
Boys’ Cross-Country Skiing, Gateway Park, 8 a.m.
Boys and girls tennis, Lagoon Park, 5 p.m.
Girls basketball, Multiplex, 5 p.m.
Boys basketball, Multiplex, 6:45 p.m.
Wednesday July 20
Softball, Lagoon Park, 4 p.m.
Women’s soccer, Emory Folmar Soccer Complex, 5 p.m.
Boys Soccer, Emory Folmar Soccer Complex, 7 p.m.
Thursday July 21
Volleyball, Multiplex, 4 p.m.