'We can go all night': Autaugaville community takes over Bill Harris Arena in AHSAA Class 1A title win
BIRMINGHAM — It started as a low hum, emanating from a group of Autaugaville players' moms a few rows up the stands. Eventually, the section across from the team benches in Bill Harris Arena sang in unison.
"We ready, we ready, we ready for y'all," they belted, drawing out the last syllable of Archie Eversole's 2002 hit of the same name.
A few pockets of Eagles fans swung together to the beat. It was the fourth quarter of the AHSAA Class 1A championship, and Autaugaville had just tied the game with a Makenzie Bristow jumper, ungluing the crowd and triggering a sing-a-long after a timeout.
On the other sideline, Belgreen fans tried to match Autaugaville's tune with their own cheers. Like the result on the court, however, the Bulldogs (26-3) fell short to the Eagles (31-0), losing 38-34 on the scoreboard.
"They followed us the entire season," Eagles coach Darren Golson said of the support. "... I'm proud of (the players). I'm proud of the community."
Golson said he didn't pay attention to the crowd during the game. He usually tries not to. The Eagles fans have been engaging, raucous and so supportive through 30 games and he didn't want to let them down as Autaugaville marched toward a perfect record.
Jaden Nixon and Antonio Hardy were among the players who engaged with the crowd through the game. They waved them on after dunks and called for them to be louder for defensive series. And their friends, family and classmates listened.
The banners encircling Autagaville's side of the court were extensions of the sendoff the Eagles had for the team at school on Thursday. The community gathered for a mini-parade that featured Autaugavaille-alum O.J. Howard's Got Da Juice 1k Foundation gifting each player a pair of wireless pro Beats by Dre.
"It's like (we won) an SEC championship, " Golson said, "... The community treated this team well."
During the trophy presentation, teams and AHSAA officials faced the camera-side of the court, toward Belgreen's emptying stands and away from Autaugaville's. Phones flashed and the moment was recorded on video.
The public address system urged fans to leave quickly so the building could be sanitized and one Eagles' fan chuckled, "We can go all night," she said.
"We did it for Autaugaville," Golson said. "Now we're No. 1"