E.A. Sports Today

Talladega to BJCC

Tigers use an active 23-5 run in the second quarter to pull away from Guntersville, win regional for first Final Four trip since 2009

Here’s the list in Chuck Miller’s office.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — There’s a big sheet of paper hanging in Talladega coach Chuck Miller’s assistant principal’s office that contains a list of all 32 Class 5A basketball teams that were still alive in the state tournament after subregion play.

The teams that lost would get a big red ‘X’ drawn through them so the players could see who was still in the game.

One by one the list got smaller. Every time the Tigers saw another team crossed off, it meant another step closer to the ultimate prize. When they look at the list today they will see only four teams that don’t have X’s through their names.

Theirs will be one of them.

The Tigers earned their third trip to the Final Four under Miller – and first since 2009 – with a 96-67 rout of Guntersville in the Northeast Regional title game at Jacksonville State

They will play Faith Academy in their state semifinal game 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the BJCC. County rival Sylacauga and Mae Jemison complete the bracket.

“We’re going to Birmingham,” senior post Jae-Lyn Russ bellowed into the nearest post-game microphone.

The Tigers established their presence early in this one. They jumped to a 48-31 halftime lead by shooting 55 percent from the field, outrebounding Wildcats 23-9 and scoring 19 second-chance points off 10 offensive rebounds.

The bulk of those numbers came in a brilliant 23-5 run in the second quarter in which six different players scored and Chaztin Tanner, Tyrese Scales and Ashton Duncan hitting back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers.

It started as an 11-0 run to extend a 25-24 lead. Guntersville temporarily stopped the run with five straight points, then the Tigers went on another 12-0 flurry.

“I thought we came out to play tonight,” Miller said. “We put a lot of pressure on them. We just wanted to get after them as much as possible. We just wanted to show we’re one of the (top) programs in the state.

“That was probably as good as we’ve played over a spurt. We’re a rhythm team and when we can get on a run there, one person makes a pretty good play and the next couple step it up. I don’t believe it was any one single person; it was a lot of people.”

Guard Fred Dickerson was named regional MVP after scoring 26 points, grabbing seven rebounds and dishing eight assists in the title game. He had 35 points, 11 rebounds and 15 assists in the Tigers’ two regional victories. He was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates Russ and Duncan.

Russ, who had a huge game in the semifinals, had 14 points and seven rebounds against Guntersville and finished off the game with a breakaway slam dunk right before the final horn. Duncan had 17 points and eight assists.

Robert Houston saw what Russ did against Scottsboro in the semifinals (19 points, 13 rebounds) and wanted some of that for himself. Even with a touch of the flu, he had 13 points, 11 rebounds and blocked four shots.

“I wanted some of that,” Houston said. “When I see Russ playing hard, it makes me want to play hard to help my team win. We haven’t been to the Final Four in a minute and that’s something at the beginning of the season we told ourselves we wanted to do, so now we’re making it come true.”

Two teams will get a big X on Miller’s sheet Wednesday. The Tigers plan to do everything in their power to make sure they are not one of them.

Talladega point guard Fred Dickerson was named MVP of the Class 5A Northeast Regional for making plays from all angles. (Photo by Greg Warren)

Talladega 96, Guntersville 67
Chrishon Hampton 5-9 0-0 11, Cavin Collin 3-11 0-0 8, C.J. Williamson 8-12 5-10 22, Tucker Bonds 1-1 0-0 3, Longan Bonds 2-8 3-4 8, Davis Hawk 1-3 0-0 2, Izaak Parker 3-6 2-2 10, Jackson Ausley 0-3 0-0 0, Carter Giles 0-0 0-0 0, Josh Perry 1-3 1-1 3, D’Madre Watkins 0-0 0-0 0, Jake VanZandt 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-57 11-17 67.

TALLADEGA (26-8) – Fred Dickerson 10-19 6-9 26, Jarvis McKenzie 3-6 1-2 9, Ashton Duncan 5-11 4-4 17, Robert Houston 6-8 1-2 13, Jae-Lyn Russ 6-8 2-2 14, Cha Moore-Beavers 0-0 0-0 0, Chaztin Tanner 3-5 0-0 7, Tyrese Scales 1-3 0-0 3, Jakeivious Patterson 0-0 2-4 2, Chrishawn Williams 0-3 1-1 1, TraShaundez Bolton 1-3 0-0 2, Jamonte Twymon 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 36-69 17-24 96.

Guntersville 15 16 15 21 — 67
Talladega 18 30 23 25 — 96

3-point goals: Guntersville 8-25 (Hampton 1-3, Collie 2-5, Williamson 1-2, T. Bonds 1-1, L. Bonds 1-5, Hawk 0-1, Parker 2-3, Ausley 0-2, Perry 0-2, VanZandt 0-1); Talladega 7-16 (McKenzie 2-3, Duncan 3-8, Tanner 1-3, Scales 1-1, Twymon 0-1). Rebounds: Guntersville 26 (Williamson 7); Talladega 49 (Houston 11, Duncan 8, Dickerson 7). Assists: Guntersville 13 (T. Bonds 4); Talladega 13 (Dickerson 8). Fouled out: Hampton, Williamson. Total fouls: Guntersville 18, Talladega 18. Officials: Jason Tidwell, Allen Gilbert, Wesley Brackett.

Talladega’s Robert Houston was a real problem for Guntersville. He had 13 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots. (Photo by Greg Warren)

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