E.A. Sports Today

Talladega tested

Talladega, Anniston win Class 4A Area 9 tournament semifinal games, meet for area championship Thursday

To see a gallery of photos from the game visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today
Chucky Miller knew the road back to the Final Four wouldn’t be an easy one, but his Talladega basketball team almost didn’t make it out of the driveway.
Lincoln gave second-seeded Talladega all it could handle for three quarters Tuesday night before the Tigers stepped up their game in the fourth quarter and pulled off a 58-50 victory in the opening round of the Class 4A Area 9 tournament at Anniston High School.
After losing a big lead early and falling behind by eight midway through the third quarter, Talladega rallied to draw even after three quarters and opened the fourth with a 10-2 run to get the win.

The Tigers (21-7) now face top-seeded host Anniston Thursday for the area title. The Bulldogs (21-7) trucked Cleburne County in the other semifinal, 77-42.
“Lincoln is a county rival,” Miller said. “We beat them three times (before Tuesday), but they have three shooters who can shoot with anybody in the state … so you knew they were going to hit some shots, but we weren’t scoring on the other end and we just had to regroup and play Talladega basketball there.
“There are going be some higher seeds go down around the state tonight because this is a pressure-packed game. You’ve played 27 games, but this is a game where there’s no tomorrow. You’ve got to take care of business. You can’t look ahead. We just had to execute.”
Once the Tigers got back in the game, Kobe Simmons carried them forward. His basket a minute into the quarter put the Tigers ahead for good, but the key exchange came 30 seconds later.
D’Corian Wilson ripped the ball from Lincoln’s Tre Garrett as he tried to drive the lane and sent Simmons loose for a layup. Simmons was fouled on the bucket, missed the and-one – the Tigers were terrible at the line in the fourth – but Aaron Green rebounded and got it back to Simmons for another basket and a 49-44 Talladega lead with 6:27 to play.
From there the Tigers put together another 8-2 run to extend the lead. They were 7-of-9 from the field in the fourth quarter.
“It was a matter of getting a lead and keeping it,” Simmons said. “This was our fourth time playing them. Every time we played them we beat them by like 20 so it shocked me a little (when the Tigers fell behind), but we fought through it and played team ball. It was a great win.”
Just as big for the Tigers was J.Q. Wilson’s play late in the third quarter. With the Tigers trailing 39-31, Wilson scored four of Talladega’s last five field goals of the quarter and six of its last eight points to get them even.
“Coach just said he needed someone to step up,” Wilson said. “I was just doing what my coach needed me to do, stepping up, being the leader that I am. It was the thought of not wanting to go home, knowing if we lost that game it would have been the end of my basketball career. I want to keep playing.”
The game started out as if the Tigers weren’t going to have any problem. They opened a 17-7 lead early into the second quarter, but then Lincoln settled in, started protecting the ball better, came to the ball in its offense and took better shots.
It helped the Bears reel off 17 straight points as part of an ultimate 25-4 run behind Tre Garrett and the outside shooting of Brian Garrett and Jack Wood to take and extend the lead before Wilson brought the Tigers back. The Bears hit seven 3-pointers in the run.
“Our kids just really laid it on the line,” Lincoln coach Jeff Lumpkin said. “We had nothing to lose tonight against a very, very talented Talladega team. We were able to build the lead there, but Talladega is extremely good with their hands defensively and we didn’t secure the ball the way we should have and it cost us.
“When they went man, full court and turned the pressure up it got to us. I knew it was going to be a dogfight to the end. We were going to keep the pedal down and keep attacking, they just stepped up defensively and stopped us.”

Dawgs off to good start

Top-seeded Anniston opened what its hopes is a long post-season run with a 77-42 area tournament victory over Cleburne County.
The Bulldogs started strong fast and finished strong. The middle was a little bumpy, but they never lost the lead.
“It was a good first game for us,” Anniston coach Torry Brown said.
Antonio Kite got the Bulldogs going with 14 points in the first quarter – nine in a row for them at one stretch – but he also picked up three fouls through the early part of the second quarter and spent the rest of the half on the bench. The Tigers made hay while the freshman was out of the game and got within six until William Fairley put a stop to the threat with a 3-pointer and the Bulldogs carried a 10-point lead into halftime.
The most interesting thing about the Tigers’ rally was it came largely with the clock stopped. The Tigers scored 11 of their 15 points in the quarter from the free throw line.
Not only did Fairley’s 3 end Heflin’s rally, it ignited the Bulldogs to a big second half. He scored 10 points in the third quarter including the last eight of a 10-0 run that opened the half.
“It was more like they were too close,” Fairley said. “We started off kind of iffy, we thought we were going to win easy, but coach told us we needed to go in there like we want them, like it’s a game we need to win, a game we have to prove something.
“When I shot (the 3) it I felt like I was going to start to get going. I didn’t realize how big it was because I was just focused on trying to win. That 3 got me going.”
Kite finished with 21 points in the game. Fairley had 13 and Ladreka Hall, another of the Bulldogs’ “energy guys” had 14. Theron Montgomery had six points, six rebounds and blocked five shots in the second half.
“Those are two energy guys and when their energy is creating points we’re really, really, really good,” Brown said of Fairley and Hall.

Talladega 58, Lincoln 50
LINCOLN (10-14) –
Brian Garrett 3 0-0 8, Cam Reynolds 0 1-2 1, Tre Garrett 7 4-5 21, Jakahri Howard 0 1-2 1, Zay Ragland 3 0-0 6, Jack Wood 3 0-0 9, Kye Patterson 2 0-0 4. Totals 18 6-9 50.
TALLADEGA (21-7) – Nigel Scales 1 0-0 3, Chaztin Tanner 4 0-0 10, Jaquon Chatman 1 0-0 2, Aaron Green 2 2-3 6, Rontavious Barclay 2 0-0 4, D’Corian Wilson 5 0-0 10, Raderrius Montgomery 0 0-0 0, J.Q. Wilson 5 2-6 12, Kobe Simmons 5 1-7 11. Totals 25 5-16 58.
Lincoln             7          18        18        7          –          50
Talladega         14        13        15        15        –          58
3-point goals: Lincoln 8 (B. Garrett 2, T. Garrett 3, Wood 3); Talladega 3 (Scales, Tanner 2). Total fouls: Lincoln 13, Talladega 12. Officials: Simpson, Edwards, Casey.
Anniston 77, Cleburne County 42
A.J. Brown 2 7-10 11, Noah Lindsey 1 0-0 2, Chase Smith 3 6-9 12, Tyren Robison 0 0-0 0, Christian Sears 0 1-2 1, Hudson Miller 1 0-0 2, Laterrance Mosley 0 2-2 2, Morrey Rollins 0 0-0 0, Ben Casey 1 7-7 9, Jolen Momon 1 1-1 3, Josh Miller 0 0-0 0. Totals 9 24-31 42.
ANNISTON (21-7) – Antonio Kite 9 1-2 21, Ladreka Hall 5 4-5 14, Tahj Jones 0 0-0 0, Kwame Milton 2 1-4 6, Jordan Caldwell 0 0-0 0, Malcolm Harvey 3 1-4 7, William Fairley 5 1-2 13, Tyree Carmichael 0 0-0 0, Hunter Rouse 1 0-0 3, Fredrick Sander 2 0-0 4, Theron Montgomery 2 2-4 6, Jordan Ferrell 1 0-0 3. Totals 30 10-21 77.
Cleburne County       9          15        7          11        –          42
Anniston                     21        13        21        22        –          77
3-point goals: Anniston 7 (Kite 2, Milton, Fairley 2, Rouse, Ferrell). Total fouls: Cleburne County 17. Anniston 25. Officials: Simpson, Edwards, Thomas.

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