Montgomery, AL – A group of distinguished coaches, collectively amassing an impressive total of 1,494 high school varsity basketball victories, have been chosen to lead the Alabama All-Star Boys’ and Girls’ All-Star Teams in the upcoming 34th Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic, scheduled for next March.
Patrick Harding, the coach who lead Buckhorn’s journey to the 2023 Class 6A state championship with a remarkable 28-7 record, has been appointed as the head coach for the Alabama Boys’ All-Star team. Assisting him will be Marshon Harper, the mentor behind Valley High School’s perfect 33-0 season and Class 5A boys’ state title victory in 2023.
On the girls’ side, Tonya Hunter from Hewitt-Trussville has been given the honor of leading the Alabama Girls’ All-Star squad, with Natasha Smallwood from Susan Moore serving as the assistant coach. Hunter, who directed Hewitt-Trussville to a commendable 26-7 record and an appearance in the Class 7A Northeast Regional tournament, brings her wealth of experience to the All-Star team. Smallwood, who steered Susan Moore to the Class 3A state finals in 2022 and the state semifinals in 2023, boasts a remarkable coaching record, concluding her ninth season with a stellar 29-4 record last March.
Brandon Dean, the Director of the Alabama High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association (AHSADCA), unveiled these selections on a Thursday announcement.
Dean remarked, “We are grateful to have these coaches leading these All-Star teams. Each of them is well-respected by their peers and has done an outstanding job with their own programs. We are confident they will provide the same leadership and energy with this year’s group of student-athletes.”
Alabama holds a significant advantage in both series, with the Alabama girls claiming their sixth consecutive victory last year with a final score of 88-74 at the Mitchell Center on the University of South Alabama campus in Mobile, bringing their series lead to 19-14. The Alabama boys also secured a decisive 91-72 win, extending their series lead to 18-15. The tradition of these games dates back to 1991.
Patrick Harding, an alumnus of DAR High School in Marshall County and Athens State University, is embarking on his 30th year as a head coach this coming season, boasting a remarkable career coaching record of 566-307. Under his guidance, the Bucks concluded the previous season on a high note, securing 12 consecutive victories to claim the 6A state title. Additionally, Holt became the first freshman in AHSAA history to be honored as Mr. Basketball by the Alabama Sportswriters Association.
Marshon Harper, with 309 wins over 22 seasons as a head coach, graduated from Valley High School and is a University of West Alabama alumnus. He orchestrated Valley’s historic first-ever state basketball title last season, with his team achieving an undefeated 33-0 record, becoming just the 11th boys’ program in AHSAA state history to accomplish such a feat and the first in Class 5A.
Tonya Hunter, who played a pivotal role on two state championship teams at Class 5A Eufaula High School in 1996 and 1997, has an impressive coaching résumé. She previously led Shades Valley to the 2014 Class 6A state championship and Hewitt-Trussville to the 2019 and 2021 Class 7A state finals, amassing a career record of 366-144.
Natasha Smallwood of Susan Moore, entering her 10th season this year with a remarkable 202-51 record, guided the Lady Bulldogs to the 3A finals in 2022 and the semifinals in 2023. Her coaching prowess was also recognized as she coached for the North in the 2023 North-South All-Star Classic last July.
The AHSAA and AHSADCA, in collaboration with the Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC), jointly oversee the annual all-star games. The games alternate between each state, and for the 34th annual Alabama-Mississippi Classic, Alabama will be the visiting team. The much-anticipated games are scheduled for Saturday, March 9, 2024, with the girls’ game tipping off at noon and the boys’ game following at 2 p.m.