BIRMINGHAM — Playing in a state championship game for the first time in program history, the Collinsville girls basketball team held nothing back.
The result: A dethroning of the reigning AHSAA Class 2A state champs.
Hadley Hamilton and Olivia Akins scored 16 points apiece, as four Panthers reached double-digit scoring in a 58-45 victory against defending champion Cold Springs at Legacy Arena on Friday morning.
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” Collinsville’s Brittany Rivera said. “It’s absolutely amazing. It feels so good.”
Rivera finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds and was named to the Class 2A all-state tournament team as the MVP. Hamilton, Akins and Tyla Tatum were also selected to the all-tournament team.
The Panthers (29-3) earned their first state championship in program history. Cold Springs (31-5) has won four state crowns, including the 2019 title.
“I don’t want to say a lot,” Panthers coach Jon Tidmore said during the postgame news conference. “I don’t want to cry in front of everybody.”
Rivera found a slashing Tatum (13 points) for a layup to end the third quarter, extending the Panthers’ advantage to 42-32.
Hamilton swished a 3-pointer with 3:55 remaining in regulation to make it 45-36, before the Eagles’ Elizabeth Hill made a jump shot to cut it to 47-40 with 3 minutes left.
Rivera responded by driving to the basket and getting fouled in the process of making her layup to send the Collinsville faithful into a frenzy. Her basket put the Panthers ahead 50-40 with 2:04 left and allowed them to run some additional time off the clock with their ensuing possessions.
The only time the Panthers had to hold themselves back was prior to the trophy presentation.
“It was hard to wait to rush that trophy when we won,” Tatum said.
Cold Springs had a difficult time from the free-throw line, shooting 8 of 24. Additionally, Collinsville out-rebounded the Eagles 32-19.
“I want to give all the credit to (Collinsville’s) defense for causing us to rush our shots and not making anything easy for us,” Eagles coach Tammy West said.
Toni West finished with 17 points and Hill added 13 points for Cold Springs. Elizabeth Neely had eight – six coming on two 3-pointers.