E.A. Sports Today

Anniston advances

Bulldogs, defending state champion Talladega stay on collision course to play for Class 4A Area 9 tournament boys title

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

TALLADEGA — Anniston handled Lincoln pretty easily during their two regular-season meetings, but the 2-3 game in the area tournament is the most dangerous of the year.

Bulldogs coach Torry Brown said it was by far the toughest of the three meetings between the teams this year.

“It’s the toughest one because it’s elimination,” he said.
“It was win or go home,” Bulldogs center Malcolm Harvey said. “You had to put it all on the line. Every game from now on is the most important game of the season.”

Indeed. If the Bulldogs had lost this one Tuesday night all their hopes for a deep playoff run would have been gone with the wind. As it was, their 74-62 win keeps very much alive Brown’s stated goal of ‘wanting to split’ with the Tigers for the year.

Read between the lines there. Talladega swept the Bulldogs during the regular season to earn the No. 1 seed in the tournament so for Anniston to get the split they’d have to beat the Tigers in Thursday’s Class 4A Area 9 title game and then again in the Northeast Region championship game at JSU.
The Bulldogs opened an early 13-2 lead, led by 16 at halftime and started hot in the second half to push the lead to 23. But the Golden Bears fought back behind Javion Surles and Brian Garrett and got within 10 in the final two minutes.
“You have to give them a lot of credit,” Brown said. “They made some shots, especially No. 11 (Garrett), he made some really, really deep shots and zero (Surles) we just couldn’t keep him out of the lane. We went to a box-and-one and still couldn’t keep him out of the lane.”
Antonio Kite led Anniston with 30 points; he had 19 in the first half. Toyer had 16 and Malcolm Harvey, playing with a pulled muscle behind his knee, had 14 points, six rebounds, four blocked shots and a couple of loud dunks.

“I just came out ready to play; I want a ring so I’m going to chase it,” Bulldogs guard Mark Toyer said. “Every team comes hard and ready to play in the playoffs. You can’t play with any team.”

Surles led all scorers with 37 points in his final high school game. Brian Garrett, a junior, had 14 points and passed the 1,000-point plateau with one of his four third-quarter 3-pointers.

Talladega 102, Cleburne County 73

Don’t let the final score fool you. The homestanding Tigers were in a fight for their playoff lives for the better part of three quarters, then broke the scoreboard with a big fourth quarter.
Heflin had the gym on upset alert for 22 minutes. The Tigers took the lead on a Josh Miller layup two minutes into the second quarter and it stayed tight well into the third. Even when Talladega tried to pull away, Cleburne County clawed its way back to make it interesting again.
It was 42-36, but Heflin brought it back to 42-40 with 2:30 left in the half before the Tigers stretched the lead back to 10 at halftime. They led by 14 with three minutes gone in the third but Heflin rallied again to make it 65-60 with 2:19 to go on a technical foul shot. Kobe Simmons stole the ensuing possession and fed D’Corian Wilson for a layup and that touched off a 9-0 run that started to put Cleburne County away.
Talladega ran off 21 straight points in the fourth quarter to get over the 100 mark.
“We played well, we did things that we needed to do,” Cleburne County coach Joby Burns said. “I didn’t know if we could keep it up the whole game and I knew they were going to start making some shots, but we did what we needed to sort of get them out of their game a little bit and I felt like that was what we had to do to have a chance. We played about as good as we could play there for a while.”
Reese Morrison led Cleburne County with 23 points; he had 19 in the first half. Ben Casey had 18 and Dayleon Brown had 16. The three were a combined 24-of-33 from the free throw line, another factor that helped keep them in the game.
Simmons and Wilson were the big guns for Talladega with 32 and 28, respectively; they combined for 21 points in the second half. Simmons also had 11 rebounds and eight assists. Wilson had six assists and Michael McGregor had 12 boards.
The Tigers were 11-of-18 from the floor in the fourth quarter, but 11-of-13 from inside the arc.
“It was tight, but we just had to execute our stuff,” Talladega coach Chucky Miller said. “We didn’t play much defense tonight, the focus wasn’t on the defensive end. We scored, but we were fouling too much and they were making shots. To beat Anniston we’re going to have to improve our defense.”
Anniston 74, Lincoln 62
LINCOLN (15-10) –
Javion Surles 12 10-17 37, Kye Patterson 0 0-0 0, Siete Garrett 0 0-0 0, Brian Garrett 5 0-0 14, 
Jayden Woods 0 0-0 0, Tristian Payton 0 0-0 0, Tre Hines 3 0-1 6, J.D. Davis 1 1-2 3, Steven White 0 0-2 0, Kory Davis 0 0-0 0, Chorion Kelley 0 0-0 0, Cam Reynolds 1 0-0 2. Totals 22 11-22 62.
ANNISTON (19-9) – Mark Toyer 6 2-6 16, Antonio Kite 10 6-8 30, Kwame Milton 3 0-0 6, Tadyn Jones 0 0-0 0, Malcolm Harvey 6 2-3 14, Daveon Dukes 3 0-1 6, A.J. Brown 1 0-0 2. Totals 29 10-18 74.
Lincoln                   11  10 23  18  –  62
Anniston                22  15 21  16  –  74
3-point goals: Lincoln 7 (Surles 3, B. Garrett 4); Anniston 6 (Toyer 2, Kite 4). Technical fouls: Lincoln team, Kite. Fouled out: Surles. Total fouls: Lincoln 19, Anniston 21. Officials: Binion, Warren, Stringer.
Talladega 102, Cleburne County 73
Manney Rollins 0 0-0 0, Reese Morrison 7 7-11 23, Josh Miller 3 1-2 8, Ben Casey 3 9-11 18, Dayleon Brown 4 8-11 16, Rico Jordan 0 0-0 0, Grant Harcrow 4 0-1 8, Jalen Moman 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 25-36 73.
TALLADEGA – Nigel Scales 1 2-2 5, LaJamein Castleberry 0 2-2 2, Jay Spratling 3 1-2 7, Arron Green 1 0-0 2, Michaael McGregor 3 5-8 11, Rontavius Barclay 3 0-0 6, D’Corian Wilson 13 1-2 28, Roderius Montgomery 2 0-0 4, Chris Curry 0 0-0 0, Kobe Simmons 11 7-8 32, Keontae Funderburg 2 1-4 5. Totals 39 19-28 102.
Cleburne Co.       21 23  16  13  –  73
Talladega             24 30  20  28  –  102
3-point goals: Cleburne County 6 (Morrison 2, Miller, Casey 3); Talladega 5 (Scales, Wilson, Simmons 3). Technical fouls: Talladega team, Green, Barclay. Fouled out: Brown. Total fouls: Cleburne County 20, Talladega 23. Officials: Warren, Prociuk, Binion.

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