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Wenonah Riding High Heading To New Orleans

Alabama is rich in tradition for its prep football prowess. There is excellent basketball played in the state as well.

Perhaps no school is playing better than Wenonah High of Birmingham, Alabama.

The Dragons won the 5A state championship in 2011 and have eight players back this season. Wenonah played in the state's Final Four in 2010.

As a result, Wenonah is riding high coming into the 2nd Annual Allstate Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic Basketball Tournament January 19-21 at the Alario Center in Westwego.

At 17-5 overall, the Dragons have been very formidable. There is a plethora of talent on hand for coach Cedric Lane, primarily in his junior class.

6'6 junior forward Derunnya Wilson averages 18 points and 12 rebounds per game to lead the way.

6'3 junior guard Isaiah Maston and 6'0 senior guard Chase Sadler each average 16 points per game while 6'5 senior forward Matrell Smith averages 11 points per game.

6'10 junior center Artis Cleveland averages five blocks per game while 5'11 senior point guard Keith Middleton averages 11 assists per game.

Another key player may be missing from the Wenonah arsenal in New Orleans. 6'3 senior guard Nigel Whatley has an ankle injury and may or may not play. He averages 10.5 points per game. Whatley scored 30 points in a game earlier this season.

Maston, Wilson and Cleveland all have college offers already as juniors. Maston is being recruited by Murray State, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana Tech. Wilson is being recruited by Alabama and UAB, among others while Cleveland has attention, Georgia, DePaul and Michigan State.

Lane feels his team is actually better than its 17-5 record.

"We dropped a few games that we shouldn't have lost," Lane said. "We did pretty good in the Converse Tournament in Atlanta, beating a couple of top 25 teams. We have battled injuries over the past month. We have had five guys miss games due to ankle injuries. That's crazy. They all happened in about one week's time. When we are healthy, we feel good about our team."

The Dragons are battle tested, having played in the Converse event as well as the Birmingham City Championship. "We always play a tough schedule as it definitely helps us to improve throughout the season," Lane said.

Lane is looking forward to bringing his team to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl tournament.

"It's big for us to come down there and showcase what we have and get our guys exposure," said Lane. "There will be good competition. Riverside beat the No. 2 team in the country. They are really good. I know the reputation of the other schools coming in and I see the records of the Louisiana teams and this will be a great challenge for us."

The other seven teams in the event must be aware of the fire that the Dragons will bring to New Orleans.


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