E.A. Sports Today

Bulldogs blocked

Barclay blocks potential game-winning 3 in final 10 seconds, Talladega edges Anniston to win third straight regional title

Talladega’s D’Corian Wilson (20) knocks the ball away from Anniston’s Antonio Kite with 2:27 left in the game. (Photo by Greg Warren)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — Rontavious Barclay was so happy he could barely find the words. That’s the only way he could describe it.

Barclay and his Talladega teammates are headed to the AHSAA Final Four in Birmingham for the third year in a row after edging Anniston 55-53 in the Class 4A Northeast Regional final Thursday. 

Anniston’s Antonio Kite (R) leans in for the game’s final shot against Talladega. The shot missed the mark and the Bulldogs couldn’t get another before the horn sounded. (Photo by Greg Warren)

The Tigers (24-8) will play Hillcrest-Evergreen (26-2) in their Class 4A semifinal, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the BJCC.

“I was just ready to win; I didn’t want to lose,” Barclay said. “I had to find the energy and intensity to bring the team back so we could win and go to the Final Four.

“It’s a wonderful feeling. I’m very happy right now. I barely can talk.”

All of the Tigers were happy after Barclay, a junior forward known on the floor at “Phat Phat,” made what amounted to the Tigers’ play of the year when he blocked Ladreka Hall’s potential game-winning 3-pointer with six seconds left. 

The Bulldogs were going for the win after Barclay hit one of two free throws with 22.4 seconds left to put Talladega up 55-53; the Tigers were trying to avoid getting beat by a 3 at all costs. Hall got the ball on the left side and when he turned to shoot Barclay was there was swat it away.

“At that moment I saw one-on-one, me and him, and the game was on the line,” Barclay said. “I was going to get the ball, block his shot or foul. The first thing that came to my mind was block his shot.

“I jumped and hit it and at that moment I didn’t see anything else until I heard the buzzer. It was the biggest play of the year to me.”

Talladega coach Chucky Miller thought Barclay did a “great” job contesting the shot without fouling.
The loose ball made its way back into the hands of Anniston guard Antonio Kite, but the Bulldogs didn’t have any timeouts to stop the clock. The freshman drove the lane and put up a shot in traffic with 2.2 seconds left, but it caught the rim short. The rebound was just a little out of Malcolm Harvey’s reach and none of the other Bulldogs could corral it for a shot before the horn sounded.
“I was just trying to get the ball and make a play for my team, but came up short,” Kite said.
“With how they play it’s hard to get into a set play with limited time,” Anniston coach Torry Brown said. “They’re not a traditional man team, they give you different looks. We were just trying to get the best shot possible and hopefully we could get fouled and get to the line, but the ref didn’t make the call and the horn went off.”

Talladega jumped out to a 7-0 lead, but Anniston rallied to take its first lead early in the second quarter on a 3-pointer and three-point play by Kwame Milton on consecutive possessions. It stayed tight the rest of the game.
The Tigers led 49-41 with 3:43 to play, but Miller knew not the relax. The Bulldogs turned the Tigers over five straight times and got it back to 49-48 with 2:20 to go.
One of the gutsiest plays came a few moments later when Talladega’s Nigel Scales slid on his belly to nudge a loose ball near mid-court over to Barclay, who got it to tournament MVP Kobe Simmons for a layup that put the Tigers up 51-48.
“Basketball players make plays,” Miller said. “Don’t come gripe at the end of the game; if you got a chance to make a play, you make it. We live to make plays; you don’t talk about it, you just go make them.”
MVP Simmons led Talladega with 21 points and eight rebounds. He was joined on the all-tournament team by teammate D’Corian Wilson, who had 17 points and seven rebounds in the final.
Anniston’s Kite led all scorers with 23 points; he also had six rebounds, three assists and three steals. He was joined on the all-tournament team by Milton, who had 11 points.

Talladega 55, Anniston 53
TALLADEGA (24-8) – JaQuon Chatman 0-2 3-4 3, Arron Greene 3-6 0-0 6, Raderrious Montgomery 0-0 0-0 0, J.Q. Wilson 1-6 0-0 2, Kobe Simmons 9-14 2-4 21, Nigel Scales 1-5 0-0 3, Rontavious Barclay 0-3 3-4 3, D’Corian Wilson 8-16 0-0 17. Totals 22-52 8-12 55.
ANNISTON (24-8) – Antonio Kite 8-10 5-7 23, Ladreka Hall 2-6 1-2 5, Kwame Milton 4-12 1-2 11, Hunter Rouse 0-0 0-0 0, Theron Montgomery 3-6 0-0 6, Malcolm Harvey 2-3 0-2 4, William Fairley 2-3 0-0 4. Totals 21-40 7-13 53.
Talladega        14        5          18        18        –          55
Anniston         9          14        12        18        –          53
3-point goals: Talladega 3-13 (Chatman 0-1, Greene 0-2, Simmons 1-3, Scales 1-2, D. Wilson 1-5); Anniston 4-12 (Kite 2-3, Hall 0-1, Milton 2-8). Rebounds: Talladega 26 (Simmons 8, D. Wilson 7); Anniston 24 (Kite 6, Montgomery 6). Fouled out: J.Q. Wilson. Total fouls: Talladega 14, Anniston 11.

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