BIRMINGHAM — Alabama signee Diante Wood is familiar with the big stage. He doesn’t shy away from it.
He has led Sacred Heart to the Alabama 1A state title game in four straight years with the Cardinals. He finished the semifinal on Monday with 25 points on 11-of-24 shooting with 19 rebounds, three assists, one block and one steal.
“Diante is a really good player,” said coach Ralpheal Graves. “Just his focus for the game, he is very familiar with playing here. I’m just proud of the way he came out here and played. He really dominated the game. On the boards, he dominated. We’re going to need that again Thursday.”
Sacred Heart beat Cornerstone 76-60 in the semifinal. The Cardinals will play for their fourth straight Alabama 1A championship on Thursday against Georgiana.
Wood did it all for the Cardinals, collecting eight offensive rebounds. He affected shots at the rim all game, helping hold the Eagles to 38 percent shooting.
“I knew I had to come in and play big for my team so we could advance to the championship,” he said. “It’s overwhelming. It says a lot about our program and team. We’ve put in a lot of work to come back every year and we’ve done it.”
Wood is ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the class of 2018 from Alabama, according to the 247Sports Composite. He signed with Alabama on Nov. 8 after choosing the Crimson Tide over offers from Auburn, Iowa State and South Florida.
The 6-foot-4 guard can dominate at times. His teammates know when to find him.
“Feed it to him and get him open,” junior guard Khalil Watkins said. “Pick-and-roll it to get him the ball and let him go to work.”
He had 15 points and 15 rebounds in the state championship game in 2015. He finished with 30 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks as a sophomore. He had 27 points, six rebounds, five steals, four assists and four blocks as a junior.
“I just know when we get here it comes down to two games left,” Wood said. “I know I have to go out there and get my team the win and as long as we all just play as one and play as a unit. We love to play on a big stage, so every time we get here, we give it our all.”
Sacred Heart will face the Georgiana Panthers on Thursday at 5:45 p.m.
“I just know I have to give it my all, leave everything on the court,” Wood said. “I cannot hold back for my team.”