Central Coosa basketball team wins Class 2A state championship title

When the word hero comes to mind, most people would easily think of Batman and Superman, but sometimes heroes are lesser known with just as much impact. Earlier this month, Quin Brooks earned the title of hero, and his superpower was a winning rebound.

During the last 30 seconds of the ASHAA Class 2A Boys Basketball Championship, Central Coosa drew up a play to go for the last shot. The Cougars weren’t looking for Brooks to get the final try, but it didn’t work out that way. The Cougars worked the clocked during the tie game, and with only about five seconds remaining, Jovon Richardson made his move to the basket.

He watched as it rimmed off, and the fate for his squad was out of his hands. But teammate Brooks was there to scoop it up.

The Cougar faithful took a collective breath as the ball looked like it was going to bounce off the rim and out, but instead, it got the perfect bounce and dropped through the netting. The team and fans erupted in celebration.

With fewer than two seconds left on the clock, Brooks played hero, and the Cougars won 54-52, securing their fifth state championship in school history and the first since 2004.

“That was huge for Quin as a sophomore to have that moment and to have the wherewithal to put it back up,” Central Coosa Coach Jeremy Freeman said. “You can panic right there if you’re trying to find somebody, but he got it in. Bang! We talked about rebounding all year being difficult for us, but I thought we did a real good job.”

The Cougar bench exploded in screams, hugs, tears and emotion, and Richardson even did a backflip in celebration.

“He’s been trying to do that flip for the last five or six games, and I would not permit it,” Freeman said. “Now I said, ‘Go for it – for this one, right here.’”

Richardson said, “This has been amazing. People counted us out all throughout our journey, but we stayed humble, and we stayed together and now we got it. It feels real good.”

It’s almost as if Freeman had a crystal ball.

It was more than a year ago he said his team would be back in Montgomery after an unexpected loss in the regional semifinals. And it was nearly eight months ago he predicted things a little more exactly.

“We came up to Birmingham this summer, and we played in a tournament. I told them, ‘This is where we’re going to end up,’” Freeman said. “We just had to compete and get better and wait until our time.”

But it was back in November when Freeman pinpointed exactly what that prediction was all about.

“The ultimate goal, no doubt about it, is to always win a state championship and to get to Birmingham,” Freeman said to The Alexander City Outlook during a preseason interview. “That’s the ultimate goal, and every time I get a team, that’s what I want. Legitimately, our chances look good but ‘legitimately’ doesn’t win anything.”

The Cougars have never lost sight of that goal, and they punched their ticket to the state championship with a 68-58 victory over Tanner in the state semifinals.

The grins on the faces of four Cougar starters during the postgame press conference said enough.

The plan to get to the state championship isn’t something Central Coosa has been thinking about just since this summer. Freeman has always known his caliber of athletes, and he knew he wouldn’t be graduating any starters from last year’s squad.

“It really started two years ago when I had taken over at the helm,” Freeman said. “It’s something I always wanted as a coach, getting on this level to see if we could compete statewide and bring back what we had been doing all along. Central Coosa is known for basketball, and we’re just trying to make sure that that continues throughout the test of time.”

Freeman beefed up the schedule once more this year with high-caliber teams – such as Sylacauga, Talladega, LaFayette and in a holiday tournament in Montgomery, where six of the seven competing Alabama teams eventually made it to the Final Four.

And although Freeman and the Cougars never lost sight of the plan, even the ever-confident coach admitted it wasn’t always a given.

“There was doubt sometimes,” Freeman said. “When we had injuries (leading scorer Noel Jones missed more than half the season with an injury), we just didn’t know when we were going to get our whole team back. But we stayed afloat, and here we are.”

This also kept alive a pretty incredible streak for the Cougars, who have never lost on the AHSAA Final Four stage.

“I just thank the Lord for giving us the endurance to last this race,” said Freeman. “I commend these young men on such a noble job of setting a goal and conquering it.”