Spain Park Girls Basketball
Bailey Bowers is part of Spain Park’s young, talented backcourt.
Mike Chase does not hesitate when asked about the current state of the Spain Park High School girls basketball program.
From top to bottom, it’s in great shape, according to the coach in his eighth year at the helm. His varsity team is talented, and has but one senior. The middle school groups have great potential.
“I think we’ve got great buy-in from the players and the parents,” Chase said. “If you get it right with a young group, it can get the tide flowing in your direction. You’ve got a solid group that is bought in, that is all coming back, that’s got a lot of experience. They teach the young kids. Once you get the ball rolling in the right direction, then it’s certainly a lot easier.”
The Lady Jaguars last advanced to the Elite Eight in 2014, but a Final Four berth has eluded them in Chase’s tenure at Spain Park, something he achieved twice at Clay-Chalkville High School, where he reached the Class 6A state championship game in 2004 and 2008.
“I’m starting to see a lot of the same combinations of kids that I had when we were really good out at Clay,” Chase said.
While the future looks bright for the Lady Jags, the present team also is looking to make some noise this season. Spain Park notched quality early-season wins over the likes of Gadsden City, Hewitt-Trussville and Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa.
Their first three losses were to Sparkman (twice) and Homewood, two of the top teams in the entire state.
Chase is encouraged by the start for multiple reasons. Obviously, the team strives to win each game. But the team is also winning games without playing a perfect game, which is encouraging. No team wants to peak too early. Improving is part of the process.
“I don’t want to be winning games and go back and look at tape and look at stats and say, ‘we’re shooting the ball as good as we can shoot it,’ or ‘we’re really running our offense as good as we can run it,’” Chase said. “Because then, 10 games into the season, where are you going to go your next 20 games? You’re not going to go anywhere.”
Claire Holt is the most experienced player on the team, as the junior has played varsity games since she was in eighth grade. Ahrielle Parks, Bailey Bowers and Sarah Ashlee Barker are three young guards who provide great backcourt depth.
Barrett Herring has improved greatly and is the Lady Jags’ most consistent post player. Monique Speigner is the team’s only senior. Mallory and Morgan Duke, Hannah Reister, Christen Rushing and Maddison McDonald make up a rather deep junior class.
“I’m trying to get these guys to buy into — and I think they’ve done a good job — is if you want individual glory, do that in the spring and summer when you’re on your AAU team,” Chase said.
Chase acclaimed his team for its chemistry, willingness to take coaching and attitude as its strengths, allowing the Lady Jags to focus solely on improving the on-court product.
“That’s actually kind of the fun part about it,” he said.