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Looking back: Basketball 2021-22 – Successes on court land student-athletes in spotlight

While scholar-athletes are in the early stages of preparing for their upcoming seasons, now is a good time to take a look back at the highlights of the past year – this week, reflecting on the winter sport of basketball. Here are just a few highlights of the past season:


Belgreen’s boys won the Franklin County Tournament in an overtime thriller against Red Bay. The Bulldogs won Class 1A, Area 14, before losing a shocker to R.A. Hubbard 38-37 in the subregion.

Red Bay’s boys won the Class 2A, Area 10, title and beat Addison 58-47 in subregion play before falling to Sheffield 43-40 in the northwest regional semifinal.

Russellville’s boys won Class 5A, Area 15, before losing to Mae Jemison 75-54 in the subregion.

FCT Boys Basketball Player of the Year: Will Bonner, BHS

Bonner was named the Class 1A Player of the Year. He was a dominant force on the hardwood for the Bulldogs for three years. No player was as dominant in the paint as Bonner, and he was a point guard. He had an uncanny ability to draw multiple defenders and still find a way to score.

Also considered: Collin Bonner, Belgreen; Eli Gipson, Russellville; and Andrew Ray, Red Bay.

FCT Boys Basketball Coach of the Year: John Torisky, RBHS

Torisky led a reloaded Red Bay squad to the Class 2A, Area 10, championship and back to the Northwest Regionals in Hanceville before losing to Sheffield in a close contest 43-40. The Tigers took an experienced and talented Belgreen team to overtime in the Franklin County Tournament championship.


In girls basketball, the year was highlighted by Tharptown’s varsity girls winning the Franklin County Tournament for the first time in school history. The Wildcats beat Phil Campbell in a thriller, ending the Bobcats’ multi-year dominance of the tournament.

Belgreen won the Class 1A, Area 14, tournament before losing to Covenant Christian 47-40 in the subregion.

Phil Campbell won the Class 2A, Area 15, tournament before losing to Elkmont 39-37 in the subregion.

Red Bay’s Anna Kate Kennedy earned a cheer scholarship to the University of North Alabama. Red Bay’s Chloe Knoblock earned a cheer scholarship to Northeast Mississippi Community College.

FCT Girls Basketball Player of the Year: Gracie Montgomery, THS

No player likely meant more to their team than Montgomery. She was the go-to scorer for the Wildcats for several seasons and garnered the majority of opposing defenses attention.

Also considered: Sarah Mansell, Tharptown; Madison Branch, Phil Campbell; and Sarah Scott, Vina.

FCT Girls Basketball Coach of the Year: Tanna Benford, THS

Benford ended her alma mater’s run of county dominance in girls basketball by beating Phil Campbell in the regular season and for the Franklin County Tournament championship. Tharptown went 6-2 against county teams.