Woods’ 3-pointer early in the fourth came within a whisper in his defender’s ear: “Let’s go.” Later, Woods adjusted in the air – actually, the sky – to score on a layup, floating past another Plainview defender. And with 2:11 to go, Woods gave Midfield a double-digit lead when he nailed another 3-pointer, this time near the Patriots bench.
“We didn’t want to fall short,” Woods said, referencing last season's loss to Madison Academy in the Class 3A title game whne was an eighth-grader on the varsity team. “So we had to do much more than we did last year.”
To get here, Woods had to not only believe in himself; and his coach believe in him; but Midfield players – juniors and seniors – had to take a back seat while the freshman point guard shot, shot… shot some more.
“Being a team player, it wasn’t that hard,” said Midfield senior guard/forward Shy’im Cunningham, who scored 11 points. “If he’s hot, get him the ball.
"I didn’t care who led the team. I just wanted to get a ‘W’ and win a state championship.”
Mission accomplished. With the win, Midfield reaffirmed what Barber has known for years: his program, located west of Birmingham, is one of Alabama’s prep basketball jewels, thanks to state championship seasons during three of the last five years.
From this time last year to now, Woods has grown five inches. He’s no longer a set shooter. No, he can do just about anything he wants on the court. And that showed Friday.
And to think: He's got three more years.
-- By the numbers: 16, Midfield’s points off turnovers (Plainview scored three)… 32, Midfield’s points in the paint (Plainview scored 12)… 16, rebounds by Plainview’s Luke Graham, who also had four offensive rebounds… 5, 3-pointers by Plainview’s Caden Millican.
-- Coachspeak: “When we win the regional finals, we go look for the first (suit for the state semifinals). And then (if we win), we get the second one.” Barber on the coaching staff’s stylish suits, purchased at ARZEL in Hoover’s Riverchase Galleria.
-- He said it …: “It feels good because this is my first time playing here (at the AHSAA state tournament) and I played horrible in the first half.” -- Midfield’s Anthony Brown, who finished with six points and 19 rebounds