By Shannon J. Allen
The Sand Mountain Reporter
BIRMINGHAM — The Snead State men's basketball team ended a 28-year state title drought in convincing fashion Friday night, beating Coastal Alabama-North 90-73 in the ACCC/Region XXII Tournament finals at Lawson State.
The Parsons' 10th consecutive win punched their ticket to the NJCAA Men's Division I Championship in Hutchinson, Kansas.
Snead State received the No. 23 seed and meets No. 10 seed Southern Idaho in the first round March 19 at 4:30 p.m. The winner advances to play No. 7 Odessa (Texas) on March 20 at 8:30 p.m.
ACCC/Region XXII Tournament most valuable player Trai James sank six 3-pointers and led the Parsons (25-7) with 22 points Friday night.
"It's pretty special," James said. "Nobody thought we'd get this far I believe. It feels good."
Brandon Wright netted 14 points, Payton Youngblood 13 and Chandler Davis 11 as the North Division No. 1 seed Parsons rebounded from a slow start to control the momentum the remainder of the game.
"I'm just happy," said Youngblood, who delivered a pair of monster dunks in the second half. "We've got good guys. We argue and fight in practice sometimes but we all come together when it matters. It's just a good moment."
Wright, Youngblood and Jacob Hyde joined James as Snead's representatives on the all-tournament team.
"It feels amazing," Hyde said. "Nobody on our team has done anything like this, so it feels real good to have a bunch of guys who were not as recruited as the teams we're playing come out and be a family and come to work and grind it out and win it all."
Antonio Howard hit a trey, giving South Division No. 1 seed Coastal Alabama-North a 21-13 lead with 10:20 left in the first half.
The Parsons struggled to keep Howard in check, as he scored inside and outside for the Eagles, finishing with a game-high 32 points.
James buried a 3 at the 10-minute mark, igniting a 10-0 run that put Snead State ahead to stay.
Christian Wilson-Poole's trey made it 23-21 with 7:22 on the clock.
Chance Fisher turned his steal into a powerful one-handed dunk over a Coastal Alabama-North defender, extending the Parsons' advantage to 32-24 with 4:27 to go.
Snead State's bench erupted in celebration to Fisher's breakaway jam, which led to a technical foul.
James' driving layup increased it to 36-25 at the 3:14 mark. Howard drained a pair of 3s, cutting it to 36-33 with two minutes left.
Leading 43-35 at intermission, the Parsons came out blazing to start the second half, outscoring the Eagles 15-4 in the first 4:05.
Hyde, James and Youngblood each contributed a 3 during the surge, which propelled the Parsons to a 58-39 margin.
Snead State maintained a double-digit cushion until Carlyle Holder converted a three-point play, trimming it to 68-59 with 7:47 remaining in the game.
The Eagles shaved it to 70-62 with 4:56 left before the Parsons slammed the door to secure their program's first state crown since 1990.
Coastal Alabama-North's Tyshawn Davis hit a trey, cutting it 81-70 with 2:23 left. The Parsons answered with a 9-0 run that pushed it to 90-70 with less than a minute to go.
Hyde and Wilson-Poole scored eight each, Fisher six and Josh Freeman and Preston both four for the Parsons, who converted 11-of-12 free throws and shot 54.8 percent from the field.
Davis grabbed a game-best 13 rebounds and blocked three shots. Youngblood cleared eight boards while Hyde contributed six rebounds and six assists. Wright dished out four assists.
"It's real special," Davis said. "Last year we came up short in the semifinals, and this year we put it all together and got it done.
"Throughout the team we had the most confidence. We knew we could put it together and win."
Damani Flanagain netted 13 points and Holder 11 for the Eagles, who hit 38.5 percent of their field goals and 14-of-19 free throws.