High school basketball players were among the more fortunate, as they were able to complete their season before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closing of schools and suspension of school sports
However, the coronavirus did affect the selection of the All-County Boys Basketball Team, with the area coaches not able to get together to select a team until recently.
Although the basketball season ended for Limestone County teams in late February, it’s never too late to honor those who performed the best on the hardwood.
Each school had a player on the All-County team, with a separate player being selected as the county Most Valuable Player.
East Limestone’s Xavier Griffith was named the county’s MVP. Griffith, who was a senior in the 2019-2020 season, averaged 21 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two blocks per game. He has signed to play collegiately at Columbia State Community College.
“His athletic ability is unbelievable,” East Limestone coach Fred Steger said. “He was able to drop his weight before the season, which made him more effective on the perimeter and even better inside. I look for him to excel at the college level as well as achieving several goals for himself.”
East Limestone’s selection for All-County team was recently graduated Austin Harvell. Harvell, who has signed to play collegiately with Tennessee Tech, averaged 18 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two blocks per game. He played his final two years of high school at East Limestone after beginning his high school career at Clements.
“Austin has done a great job the last two years,” Steger said. “He was the main focus for other teams to control, which meant he saw lots of double and sometimes triple teams. I feel he will grow to be an excellent and leading player at the collegiate level.”
Elkmont rising senior Layton Smith was the Red Devils’ selection. Smith averaged 13.5 points, five rebounds and three assists per game, while also making 68 3-pointers and shooting 86% from the free-throw line.
“Layton had a very solid year for us this season, including a strong second half of the season,” Elkmont coach Eric Smith said. “He took on a leadership role as the season went along and chose to lead by example.”
Recently graduated Colton Hardiman was Ardmore’s selection. Hardiman averaged 12.2 points and 1.5 steals per game, but some of his biggest contributions came through his work ethic.
“Colton is the hardest-working player I have ever coached,” Ardmore coach Kyle Owens said. “He was someone we always looked to when we needed a bucket. He led the team in scoring and minutes played and was also the best defender on our team.”
Recently retired Tanner coach Chris Whitt had a great senior class in 2019-2020, but one player stood out above the others — JJ Jones. Jones averaged 17.7 points, 14.2 rebounds and 3.5 steals per game in leading the Rattlers to another Northwest Regional Tournament appearance.
“JJ took his game to the next level and became a real force for us this year, especially around the goal,” Whitt said. “He was a tremendous rim protector, blocking several shots per game. On offense, he became a real scorer for us this season and he would often be out front running the fast break. He had so much more energy on the floor this year.”
Clements rising senior JT Farrar was the Colts’ selection. Farrar averaged 10 points, four rebounds and two steals per game in coach Michael Holt’s first season in charge.
“JT grew so much from the first of the season to the end,” Holt said. “Even though he was plagued with a health condition and missed six games, JT persevered through, and his determination allowed him and his teammates some much-needed success when he returned.”
West Limestone’s selection was rising senior River Helms. Helms helped lead the Wildcats to within an overtime loss of its second consecutive state tournament, and averaged 16 points, nine rebounds, 2.4 steals and 2.6 blocks per game.
“River was the leader in almost every statistical category for West Limestone this season, who he led to the Northwest Regional finals,” Wildcats coach Justin Taylor said. “River was also one of the best defenders on the team, averaging 2.4 steals and 2.6 blocked shots per game.”