E.A. Sports Today

Tigers win a thriller

Talladega, Etowah go toe-to-toe for 32 minutes before Tigers seal Northeast Regional 5A final, face county rival Sylacauga in Final Four



Feb. 26
R.A. Hubbard vs. Georgiana, 10:30 a.m.
Sacred Heart vs. Cornerstone, 1:30 p.m.
Finals, March 1, 5:45 p.m.

Feb. 26
St. Luke’s Episcopal vs. Tanner, 4:30 p.m.
Lanett vs. Aliceville, 7:30 p.m.
Finals, March 2, 10:45 a.m.

Feb. 27
Hillcrest-Evergreen vs. Lauderdale County, 10:30 a.m.
Plainview vs. American Christian, 1:30 p.m.
Finals, March 3, 2:15 p.m.

Feb. 27
Andalusia vs. Cordova, 4:30 p.m.
Madison Academy vs. Greensboro, 7:30 p.m.
Finals, March 2, 5:45 p.m.

Feb. 28
Eufaula vs. Wenonah, 4:30 p.m.
Talladega vs. Sylacauga, 7:30 p.m.
Finals, March 3, 10:45 a.m.

Feb. 28
Carver (Montgomery) vs. Hazel Green, 10:30 a.m.
Paul Bryant vs. Parker, 1:30 p.m.
Finals, March 3, 2:15 p.m.

March 1
McGill-Toolen vs. Sparkman, 10:30 a.m.
Central-Phenix City vs. Mountain Brook, 1:30 p.m.
Finals, March 3, 5:45 p.m.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – Not having your senior season end in the middle of the state tournament is a powerful motivator.

It’s what drove Fred Dickerson, Ashton Duncan and all their Talladega teammates down the stretch Wednesday in the best game of the week at the Northeast Regional tournament.

The Tigers and Etowah went toe-to-for for 32 minutes before Talladega squeezed out a 75-70 win to earn its second straight trip to the Class 5A Final Four.

“I wasn’t going home,” Duncan said. “Couldn’t go home my senior trip on (Coach) Chucky Miller’s basketball team. Had to go back to the Final Four for the last round. Win or go home. We chose to win.”

Willed is more like it. The game was tied six times and the lead changed hands nine in the second half alone. One team would hit a basket that seemed to swing the momentum, the other would answer; it was like that throughout the half.

“They threw a lot of knockout punches at us,” Miller said. “It was going to take that 100 percent effort plus a little bit more in a game like this. You’ve just got to hang in these games and hopefully give you a chance at the end.

“Some of the early games this year getting my team together we’ve lost some close games like this that maybe we couldn’t pull out. Now, we’re figuring out we’ve got to play to the final buzzer.”

With all the knockout punches being delivered, in in the end the Tigers delivered the big blow. It came with Dickerson and Duncan hitting nine straight free throws in the final 3:31 and six in the final minute when they all knew every one could mean the difference in winning and losing.

But that’s what putting up 50 extra free throws at the end of practice each day will do for you.

Chaztin Tanner’s driving layup with 37.4 seconds left put Talladega ahead for good, but it was far from over.

Dickerson hit two free throws with 17.9 left to extend the lead to 73-70. Etowah’s Emil Smith missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer short and right with eight seconds left. Duncan, the regional MVP, was fouled on the rebound and hit two free throws to lock it up.

Duncan had 26 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Dickerson had 18 points, six rebounds and six steals. They had 15 combined points at halftime.

“I didn’t want to go home,” Dickerson said. “We can’t go home this is our last year of basketball for our high school career, so we have to try to give it our all.”

Etowah’s Taylor Berry led all scorers with 28 points. He hit seven 3-pointers, but Dickerson held him to only two in the second half.

In an interesting bit of by-play, the two were standing at midcourt with about six minutes to go waiting for Kobe Simmons to take a free throw in a tight game when Dickerson leaned over and complimented the Etowah guard on his shooting touch.

The Tigers will now play county rival Sylacauga, the Central Region champion, in their Final Four opener Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Talladega has beaten the Aggies three times this season, including the Talladega County Tournament finals.

“That’d be real cool,” Duncan said. “Two Talladega County teams in the Final Four in the next place. That’ll be a sight to see.”

Talladega 75, Etowah 70
TALLADEGA (21-10) –
Fred Dickerson 6-17 6-8 18, Chaztin Tanner 2-12 0-0 4, Ashton Duncan 7-18 9-12 26, J.Q. Wilson 6-9 4-5 16, Kobe Simmons 2-9 0-1 5, Tyrese Scales 2-4 2-5 6, D’Corian Wilson 0-1 0-0 0, Jay Patterson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 25-71 21-31 75.

ETOWAH (25-6) – Emil Smith 3-15 1-4 8, Justin Harris 2-7 2-4 6, Alec Timmons 3-13 1-2 8, Jamin Graham 7-8 2-2 16, Taylor Berry 10-19 1-1 28, Jailyn Jackson 0-0 0-0 0, Deaundrea Williams 2-2 0-0 4, Derickey Wright 0-0 0-0 0, Davian Smith 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-64 7-13 70.

Talladega 24 16 14 21 — 75
Etowah 28 15 13 14 — 70

3-point goals: Talladega 4-15 (Dickerson 0-3, Tanner 0-3, Duncan 3-7, Simmons 1-2); Etowah 9-29 (E. Smith 1-6, Timmons 1-8, Berry 7-15). Rebounds: Talladega 44 (J.Q. Wilson 9, Duncan 7, Dickerson 6); Etowah 48 (Timmons 10, Graham 10, Berry 9). Fouled out: Harris, Wright. Total fouls: Talladega 6, Etowah 19. Officials: Amado Ortiz, Cedric Hawkins, Bill Young.

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