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Utah Jazz players reflect on treasured tournament moments

Published: Thursday, May 3 2012 11:23 p.m. MDT

Becoming a contributor for the Jazz after being waived by Denver in February isn't his only comeback story. Carroll's John Carroll Catholic High School team from Birmingham, Ala., rallied to win the state championship his junior season.

"We were down by 10 with like a minute and 45 (seconds) to go, and we came back and won," Carroll recalled. "They (Bob Jones HS) just started turning the ball over. I don't know what they was doing."

Two minutes later, however, Carroll & Co. were celebrating a thrilling 36-0 2003 season and a 6A Missouri championship.

The only thing that didn't go Carroll's way — Alabama-bound teammate Ronald Steele was named MVP.

"I was supposed to get MVP," said Carroll, who earned it and another state title his senior year. "I was mad about it. I can say that now."

Carroll said that while smiling, by the way.

RAJA BELL

"Game 7. Milwaukee. 2001."

In April of that year, Bell signed with Philadelphia. Despite being a late-season newcomer to the NBA, he showed his stuff in the Eastern Conference finals finale.

"It was the first time I really ever made a big difference in a playoff game," Bell said.

Coach Larry Brown liked what he did off the bench in Game 6 after Philly fell down by 20, so he decided to give Bell a bigger reserve role

"I was the first sub off the bench in Game 7 and came in had a dunk and a three and a layup and a couple of steals from Ray Allen, and kind of just sparked it, man," Bell said. "Eastern Conference finals, my rookie year. Good (stuff)."

The Sixers won but fell to the Lakers in the NBA finals.

AL JEFFERSON

As a junior, Jefferson's Prentiss High School team went into the 2003 Mississippi state tournament as a No. 3 seed — "as the underdog," he pointed out.

Three victories later — and a scoring average of about 45 points for Jefferson — his resilient squad had secured the 3A crown and the school's first hoops trophy.

Jefferson spoke with heart-warming emotion as he reflected back on a conversation he had in the school gym that night. He and his coach sat quietly together reminiscing over adversity they'd overcome.

"We had a rough season all year, that whole season we were getting whooped, getting beat and then all of a sudden we just turned it on in the end," Jefferson said. "We were just looking at each other and took a deep breath, like, 'If we would've said this in the beginning of the year would you (have) believed it?' "

Jefferson continued: "We just couldn't believe that everything just turned around for us and we ended up winning the state championship, the only one my school ever won. It was an amazing moment."

A moment, Jefferson said, when he learned to never give up.

Something his new team might take to heart nine years later.

Email: jody@desnews.com Twitter: DJJazzyJody Blog: Jazzland.blogs.deseretnews.com

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