MMI Tigers’ point guard honored

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Marion Military Institute may have fallen short of the AISA Class 1A state title for the third straight year, but one of the Tigers’ own has earned respect from his peers statewide.

MMI junior point guard Jovaris Smith has been named one of 21 finalists statewide for the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Mr. Basketball for the 2005 season.

The Mr. Basketball and Miss Basketball awards go to the ASWA’s choices as Alabama’s prep basketball players of the year.

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A total of 42 players, 21 boys and 21 girls, are finalists for the Mr. and Miss Basketball awards, which will be announced at a banquet following the Final Four state tournament later in March.

Sponsors are still ironing out the date for the banquet.

The Tigers lost the state title game to Cornerstone Christian School, 61-56 in overtime, last Friday at Huntingdon College.

Smith said the Tigers’ inability to win the championship diminishes his being named one of the state’s best hoops players.

“It takes off a lot from it,” he said. “Winning a state championship makes a perfect season. Anything else is a disappointment.

“I’m thankful for making it as far as we did,” Smith said. “But I know the feeling of being a runner-up. I don’t know the feeling of being a state champion.”

Smith earned the award with his solid play throughout the year, but especially following the loss of forward Brian Moore, who was lost in the team’s fifth game with a leg injury.

After missing several weeks, Moore had a steel rod placed in his right thigh.

He was cleared to play last Thursday against Central Christian Academy.

According to MMI coach Michelle Ivey, Smith elevated his game after Moore’s loss.

She said that while Moore was absent, Smith went from averaging 22 points per game to nearly 19 points a game.

His rebound numbers also drastically improved from four to nine per contest.

“Where we goes, we usually go,” Ivey said. “When he plays well, we normally do well.”

Smith was named the area tournament MVP for the third consecutive season. In the past three seasons, the Tigers have lost just seven games when Smith started at point guard.