“In the first half, it was nip and tuck,” Talladega head coach Chucky Miller said. “They did a great defensive job, our shots were contested and our boys missed some shots that they should have made if Pell City wasn’t playing such great defense. In the second half, we tried to pick up the pace a little bit and get to a full court game. We finally hit some shots and got into a rhythm and got the momentum. Things in the first half you can work on, we carried on and we got better in the second half. Hopefully, that is a sign of a good team.”
The Panthers took a 10-8 lead after one quarter of action. Jaelin Green gave Pell City a quick 4-0 lead off a layup with 6:49 left in the quarter. Talladega responded with a 5-0 run that was capped off by Marius Echols to give Talladega a 5-4 lead. Green scored eight first quarter points for the Panthers, which included an empathic two-handed dunk off on an inbound lob over Ahmad Gooden. Joseph Pittman hit a reverse layup to give the Panthers a 10-8 lead going to the second quarter.
Talladega was able to get in the open court off their press defense in the second quarter, which helped them spark a 7-1 run to cut the Pell City lead down 15-14. Richard Williams had a layup off a Pell City turnover tied the game at 17-17 with 2:40 left in the half. Markiel Buckhanon hit a layup to give the Panthers a 19-17 lead .Gooden tied the game at 19-19 going into halftime with a layup.
In the third quarter, Talladega (5-0) was able to speed up the game and turn turnovers into points off their press defense. The Tigers went on a 26-8 run in the third quarter. Gooden started the run with a putback to give Talladega 21-19. D’Angleo Scales threw an under handed toss pass to Mario Echols for a layup. Josh Madden scored seven points in the quarter, including a four point play as he was fouled while draining a 3-pointer out of the right corner. Williams hit a 3-pointer to give Talladega a 36-21 lead. Scales also scored seven points in the quarter, including a 3-pointer at the end of the period to increase Talladega’s lead to 45-27.
The Panthers (2-5) lack of depth showed in the second half. Pell City’s second-year head coach Bill Grant said that has been their problem this season.
“We just don’t have enough players,” Grant said. “They just wore us down. We played as well as we could play in the first half, but we have been playing everybody like that. I guess the most we have been down at half this year is six points. We don’t have a lot of depth; one of our little guards has been hurt. We only have one point guard and we can’t rest him, so that just wears us down. We had a game last night, not against that team-Coach Miller does a really good job. We fought as long as we could fight.”
The Tigers once again had a balanced attack on offense. Madden led the way with 16 points for Talladega. Gooden scored 13 points, while Scales chipped in with 12 points.
Green and Luke Daniel led Pell City in scoring with 11 points apiece.
Talladega hosts Childersburg on Friday. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. The Tigers will travel to Howell’s Cove to take on TC Central on Saturday.
“We have our county rivals Friday and Saturday,” Miller said. “We expect to have a big crowd here on Friday night for Childersburg. It is early in the season; you play these games to get better later on.”
Pell City takes on Clay Chalkville on Friday at 7:30 p.m.