BIRMINGHAM — Collinsville High School will be closed Friday to allow students and faculty to watch the girls basketball team continue its pursuit of history in Birmingham.
With an entire community backing them, the Panthers look to claim the first state championship in program history against defending Class 2A champion Cold Springs at 9 a.m. Friday at Legacy Arena.
“I think it’s great to be a part of history,” Panthers coach Jon Tidmore said. “It wasn’t long ago that we won our first county championship in school history, and that was a big thing for our program.”
Collinsville (28-3) defeated G.W. Long 52-39 in Monday’s semifinal round, behind a balanced scoring effort and stingy defense.
Brittany Rivera’s 12 points and seven rebounds led three Panthers in double-digit scoring, with Hadley Hamilton adding 10 points and nine rebounds and Tyla Tatum chipping in 10 points and seven rebounds.
The Panthers started the semifinal game with five 3-pointers as their first five baskets. They continued building momentum with double-teams in the low post and active hands around the perimeter. It resulted in turnovers that led to some transition baskets on some occasions; at other times, the Rebels’ defense cut off fast-break chances.
But it didn’t matter too much, because the Panthers just worked the ball around the floor until they found a high-percentage shot.
“I think we played pretty efficiently today,” Tidmore said after the win. “I thought we were patient in handling the ball, I thought our attitude was good the whole day — we didn’t get too low or too high — so I’m just proud of the effort today.”
Collinsville’s defense allowed for further offensive success by holding Long to two points in the third period.
The impressive performance advanced the Panthers to the championship round, with the team’s chemistry seemingly as strong as ever.
“Since the beginning of the season, we have been a family,” Rivera said
To capture the 2A title, the Panthers have to contend with the defending state champions.
Cold Springs senior Elizabeth Hill shot 6 of 7 from 3-point range in the first half and scored a game-high 37 points to power the Eagles past Central-Hayneville 61-46 in the semifinal round Monday.
Hill finished 13 of 20 from the field, including 7 of 9 on 3-point attempts and was a perfect 4 of 4 from the foul line.
“My teammates did a really good job getting me the ball when I was open,” Hill said.
The Eagles (31-4) are chasing their fifth state title in program history. They had title wins in 1999, 2008, 2009 and 2019.
“We’re just lucky that we’ve been through this last year.” said Cold Springs’ Toni West, who scored 15 points with six steals and five rebounds.
Cold Springs carries an eight-game win streak into Friday’s title bout, after finishing as 2A, Area 12 champions with a dominant 81-18 rout of West End on Feb. 6.
The Eagles followed with state playoff wins against Sumiton Christian, Tanner and Hatton, respectively.
The task ahead is large for the Panthers, but their collective effort has yielded the opportunity of a high school career.
“In today’s time, it’s hard to get a lot of individuals who play all of these different sports to buy into one thing and just never see any negative,” Tidmore said. “We’ve never seen any negative; that’s what’s special about this group.”