E.A. Sports Today

Epic win

Talladega edges Anniston in another classic meeting between area rivals for regional title, reaches Final Four for fourth straight year
By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today
JACKSONVILLE – Talladega avoided the season split Anniston coach Torry Brown so very much wanted for his team and because they did the Tigers are headed back to Birmingham to defend their Class 4A state championship.
The Tigers broke away from a close game with a two-minute, 13-second burst of defensive-fueled offense in the third quarter and then held on to turn back their area rivals 63-58 Wednesday and earn a fourth straight trip to the Final Four.
After more than 700 career wins without winning a state championship, Tigers coach Chucky Miller is now two wins away from winning two in a row. The Tigers (24-6) will play Montgomery Catholic in the 4A semifinals Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. in the BJCC.
“It didn’t matter how it looked, you just needed to pull it out,” Miller said. “These last two years, these eight games (with Anniston), have been epic games. Tonight, we hung in there. We finally got it together there in the third quarter. Give our hats to our players. They regrouped. Started slow, but finished strong.”
Talladega is 5-3 the last two years with Anniston with five of the games being decided by five points or less. It’s become such a rivalry the players on both sides talked about it in their pickup games at the rec center all summer. 
The Tigers swept the regular-season series this year, but Anniston won the area tournament title game. When that third game was over, Brown let slip somewhat jokingly the Bulldogs’ goal going forward was to split with the Tigers for the year. To make that happen they would have to beat their area rivals in the region championship game.

The Tigers put together a big third quarter to make sure that wouldn’t happen.

A free throw by Antonio Kite made it 35-34 with 2:13 to play in the third, then the Tigers went on the run that was the difference in the game. They scored the last 12 points of the quarter and carried a 13-point lead into the fourth.
Tournament MVP Kobe Simmons scored the first five points of the run. From there, Nigel Scales stole the ball from Kite and scored a layup at the other end. Arron Green then swiped the ball from Kite from behind and then hustled back to be in position after D’Corian Wilson missed an initial shot to tap back the rebound for another bucket. Green then closed the run and the quarter with a 3-pointer.
“I just knew my team needed some buckets and stuff, so I just went ahead played defense,” Green explained. “I stole it and gave it up to try to get back on the offensive glass. I just knew he (Kite) goes in wild so all I had to do is find the ball and just get it clean so there won’t be a foul. On the 3, I was just in the right place at the right time.”
Simmons had 25 points and six rebounds. Wilson had eight points, eight boards and six assists. Green had 13 points.
“The run at the end of the third quarter was probably the turning point and proved to be just a little too much for us to overcome,” Brown said. “You have to give them a lot of credit. They came out and played the way champions play.”
“At spurts this year we can turn it up just an extra notch, I believe probably a little bit better possibly than last year, but we don’t do it as much as last year, for some reason,” Miller said. “But we’re working on it. We’ve still got games to play.”

To their credit, the Bulldogs (22-8) didn’t collapse under the weight of the run. Kwame Milton and Kite did all they could to try and bring the Bulldogs back. They scored all but two of Anniston’s 24 points in the fourth quarter. Kite finished with 25 in the game. Milton had 17 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks and three steals.
Milton got the first six points of the quarter and eight of the Bulldogs’ first 11. He also had two steals in the final minute to keep the Bulldogs alive. The first led to Kite’s cradle layup that made it 61-58. He stripped Wilson on the next possession, but Kite missed a 3-pointer and Scales was fouled on the rebound with 33.9 seconds left.
“Even though we were down I just knew we couldn’t give up, we had to keep pushing hard. I was a senior on the team so I had to be a leader. I thought if I picked my energy up everybody else would follow my energy and keep going, but they made a couple more plays than we did and, in the end, they came out on top.”
Scales made the two free throws after he was fouled on the rebound to make it 63-58. Milton and Mark Toyer missed shots underneath on the other end and once the Tigers got their hands on it they ran out of the clock.
“We fought back and fought back but it seemed like every time we got maybe two possessions away they would hit another big shot,” Brown said. “We just never could get it down to one or two. I thought if we could get it down we could turn the tide a little bit, but it never happened.”
Championship game
Talladega 63, Anniston 58
TALLADEGA (24-6) –
Nigel Scales 2-4 4-4 9, Arron Green 4-11 3-5 13, Rontavious Barclay 4-5 0-0 8, D’Corian Wilson 2-11 3-5 8, Kobe Simmons 8-14 6-7 25, Jay Spratling 0-1 0-0 0, Michael McGregor 0-0 0-0 0, RaDerius Montgomery 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-46 16-21 63.
ANNISTON (22-8) – Mark Toyer 1-7 0-2 2, Antonio Kite 6-17 10-15 25, Kwame Milton 5-12 6-6 17, Malcolm Harvey 2-7 0-0 4, Daveon Dukes 2-6 3-3 8, Demar Stewart 0-5 0-0 0, A.J. Brown 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 17-56 19-26 58.
Talladega         13  12  22  16  –  63
Anniston          14  14  6    24  –  58
3-point goals: Talladega 7-13 (Scales 1-3, Green 2-3, Wilson 1-2, Simmons 3-5); Anniston 5-26 (Toyer 0-4, Kite 3-8, Milton 1-7, Dukes 1-3, Stewart 0-4). Rebounds: Talladega 32 (Wilson 8, Green 7); Anniston 38 (Milton 10, Kite 8, Harvey 8). Fouled out: Dukes. Total fouls: Talladega 14, Anniston 17. Officials: Binion, Scyphers, Dockery.
All-tournament team: Kobe Simmons, Talladega (MVP); D’Corian Wilson, Talladega; Antonio Kite, Anniston; Kwame Milton, Anniston; Deondre Elliott, Oneonta; Cole Maddox, Good Hope.

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