E.A. Sports Today

Laying it on the line

Clutch free throw shooting in fourth quarter carries Bulldogs to regional finals, meet Talladega again for trip to Final Four
By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today
JACKSONVILLE – As Anniston coach Torry Brown was climbing out of Talladega’s gym after the Bulldogs beat the Tigers in the area tournament a couple weeks ago he looked back down the steps and semi-jokingly remarked the goal now was to split with the Tigers for the season.
One had to think about what he meant, but it didn’t take long to figure getting a split would mean beating the Tigers to win the region championship.
They have their chance.

Anniston kept their coach’s goal alive when they beat Good Hope Monday 66-58 in the Class 4A Northeast Regional semifinals, hitting 13-of-18 free throws in the fourth quarter to hold off the Raiders.
It would be up to Talladega to uphold its end, and the defending state champions did that, taking down Oneonta 60-47. The teams will play for the region title and a trip to the Final Four Wednesday at 5:45 p.m.

“It’s tough to get to this point every year and that was a sort of tongue-in-cheek with Talladega with them being sort of our rival in the area and having so many great games against them over the past couple years,” Brown said after his game and before Talladega played. “Whoever we play we know both teams are really good and we’re going to have to play really, really well to beat them. We’re just happy to have a chance to go to another regional final … We’ve played a really, really tough schedule that’s prepared us. Now we just have to go out Wednesday and try to finish and seal the deal.”

“Whichever team we have to face I know it’s not going to be easy,” Kwame Milton said. “We have to come out and play hard all 32 minutes and play our best.”

Talladega beat Anniston twice during the regular season and in last year’s regional finals on the way to winning its first ever basketball state title, but despite the past success Talladega coach Chuck Miller is wary.

“Even when they’re bad they’re good,” he said.

The Bulldogs (26-3) never trailed Monday, but the Raiders (26-5) kept it interesting. Anniston led by 14 with 3:22 to play, but the Raiders made it a two-possession game in the final minute of the game until the Bulldogs closed it out from the line, an area that has been a comes-and-goes proposition for them this year. It was in this same building last month they missed six straight free throws in the second quarter against Oxford that turned the tide in the county championship game.

Brown said the Bulldogs have worked specifically on their free throws since that county tournament loss. They were just 4-of-6 in the subregion game against Jacksonville, but were 28-of-46 in the area tournament.
Kwame Milton hit four straight in the final 24 seconds Monday to take Anniston’s lead from 62-56 to 66-56. The Bulldogs were 21-of-29 from the line for the game, 16-of-24 in the second half. Antonio Kite was 8-of-9, Kwame Milton was 6-of-8 and Harvey was 3-of-6.

“Wow,” Brown said. “We probably hadn’t shot free throws like that maybe a few times this year, but it was good to see, especially for Malcolm. We expect it from all of the guys, but especially to see Malcolm go up there and make some really big free throws down the stretch that was huge for us.”

“I felt like if I missed it would be my fault for everything that they had an opportunity to come back,” Harvey said. “So, I feel like I had to contribute for the team.”

Kite was Anniston’s leading scorer with 15 points. Harvey took advantage of his height advantage inside to score 13 points and grab 12 rebounds. Milton had 13 points and eight boards, and did a good job handling the ball and getting it inbounds after Mark Toyer fouled out late in the game. Demar Stewart had 10 points. 
“I feel like in the first half they were beating us to the rebounds, and I felt like it was my fault,” Harvey said.  “That’s my job. That’s what I’m supposed to do, go out there and rebound the ball, so I went there and rebounded the ball.”

Talladega 60, Oneonta 47

JACKSONVILLE – Defending 4A state champion Talladega used big runs in the middle two quarters to take control of the game and earn its fourth straight regional final appearance.
The Tigers (24-6) scored the last 11 points of the second quarter that extended to 14-0 early in the third quarter to rally from a 25-18 deficit and then put together another 9-0 flurry later in the third quarter to open up a 14-point lead.
“We changed defenses a little bit,” Talladega coach Chuck Miller said. “Hopefully what we did to them the first quarter got them a little tired, too. We made them work a lot even though they were hitting aa lot of shots. Hopefully our work ethic on defense was key on that … Their effort was unbelievable tonight.”
“They came off a timeout with their backs against the wall and they came out swinging, which is exactly what you’d expect out of a state championship group,” said Oneonta coach Brandon Crews, a former White Plains assistant. “When adversity hit they took their game to the next level. In the second half we just couldn’t string together enough consistent good plays to retake that lead. They came out swinging and looked like what a state championship group is supposed to look like.”
The Redskins (24-7) had five-straight non-winning seasons before Crews arrived. In his three years, the programa has won 71 games, two area championships and made two regional appearances.
Arron Green scored the first seven points of the first run to draw Talladega into a 25-25 tie with 2:05 left in the half. He finished with 10 in the game.
“I knew we needed some points fast and quick, so I just followed all the shots and just too my time to find the ball,” Green said.
The second run gave them a 43-29 lead with 2:50 left in the third. Oneonta answered with eight straight points from Deondre Elliott to get as close as six but never got closer. The Redskins got with six again with 3:40 to play, but the Tigers held them scoreless the rest of the game.
“They made a run, we knew they were going to make one or two or three runs at us, you’ve just got to withstand the runs and make a run of your own,” Miller said.
Talladega’s D’Corian Wilson led all scorers with 20 points. He also had five assists. Nigel Scales scored 14 points, going 8-for-12 from the line, and Green had 10 points with nine rebounds. Kobe Simmons fought through foul trouble to score eight points and grabbed 12 rebounds.

Anniston 66, Good Hope 58
GOOD HOPE (26-5) –
Eli Phares 0-4 0-2 0, Cole Maddox 8-21 10-12 28, Michael Lowe 2-12 2-4 6, Tanner Malin 1-5 0-0 3, Dre Maddox 4-14 0-0 11, Lawton Farr 1-1 0-0 2, Dawson Turner 3-6 0-0 8. Totals 19-63 12-18 58.
ANNISTON (26-3) – Mark Toyer 3-5 0-1 6, Antonio Kite 3-19 8-9 15, Kwame Milton 3-8 6-8 13, Malcolm Harvey 2-7 3-6 13, Daveon Dukes 2-2 0-0 5, Alex Teague 0-0 0-0 0, Demar Stewart 3-8 2-2 10, Tahj Jones 1-1 2-3 4. Totals 20-50 21-29 66.
Good Hope   5   14   14  25  –  58
Anniston      12  17  15  22  –  66
3-point goals: Good Hope 8-30 (Phares 0-2, C. Maddox 2-7, Lowe 0-1, Malin 1-4, D. Maddox 3-11, Farr 0-0, Turner 2-5; Anniston 5-20 (Toyer 0-1, Kite 1-8, Milton 1-4, Dukes 1-1, Stewart 1-6). Rebounds: Good Hope 41 (C. Maddox 10, Lowe 9); Anniston 43 (Harvey 12, Milton 8). Fouled out: D. Maddox, Toyer, Harvey. Total fouls: Good Hope 21, Anniston 23. Officials: Barnett, Little, Schultz.
Talladega 60, Oneonta 47
ONEONTA (24-7) –
 Eli Buse 1-3 1-2 3, Daniel McCary 4-11 0-0 10, Jacob Green 1-5 0-0 3, Eric Moore 3-11 0-0 7, Deondre Elliott 7-16 2-4 18, Dallas Jennings 0-0 0-0 0, Harrison Miller 1-5 0-0 3, Davin Young 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 18-53 3-6 47.
TALLADEGA (24-6) – Nigel Scales 2-6 8-12 14, Arron Green 4-4 1-3 10, Rontavious Barclay 4-7 0-0 8, D’Corian Wilson 8-16 3-6 20, Kobe Simmons 3-13 2-2 8, Jay Spratling 0-0 0-0 0, Michael McGregory 0-2 0-0 0, RaDerius Montgomery 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-48 14-23 60.
Oneonta     16  9   12  10  –  47
Talladega   16  13 15  16  –  60
3-point goals: Oneonta 8-34 (McCary 2-9, Green 1-5, Moore 1-3, Elliott 2-10, Miller 1-5, Young 1-2); Talladega 4-13 (Scales 2-6, Green 1-1, Wilson 1-3, Simmons 0-3). Rebounds: Oneonta 25 (Moore 10), Talladega 46 (Simmons 12, Green 9). Total fouls: Oneonta 17, Talladega 11. Officials: Ortiz, Burks, Barnett.

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