“That is an opinion of mine that I have had since I got here,” Smith said. “Being a product of a rural area school in Notasulga, I am familiarized with the Notasulga-Loachapoka rivalry. This rivalry is the best in the county, nobody has refuted it yet. You have blood lines that are crossed, the communities are small, we are a community school and they have a community school. They have a little more historical success in basketball than we have had. We have a lot of success here history wise. When you have two communities that are alike and a lot of relatives what you get with this rivalry is that it is going to happen until you are old and gray. I ran across some elders when I was scouting at TC and they were talking about the Winterboro-TC game. These rivalries are embedded and they carry a little bit more value than the bigger schools. You know you are going to get some good games out of that and what you are going to get here is a closely knitted game where they know each other and see each other a little bit more in churches and community areas such as grocery stores. Our kids play two or three sports so the rivalry carries over in all the sports, even volleyball has a rivalry against TC. This is why it is the best rivalry in this county. “
The Lady Bulldogs are 7-3 on the season with wins over No.10 in Class 4A Dadeville and Ben Russell. All three of their losses this season has been by teams in the top 15 in their classifications. Winterboro lost to No.6 Anniston twice this season and they lost to No. 14 in Class 6A Jeff Davis. Sophomore guard Anslea Twymon believes playing teams that have both height and speed like Anniston and Jeff Davis will help them in the postseason.
“After we played Anniston the first time the fear went away, because I knew what to expect,” Twymon said. “I knew they had the height, the speed; we just had to play defense and box out. We are a small team and we don’t have the height like the other teams, so if we do make it to the Sub-Regionals and Regionals we know to expect and what we have to do to get the job done.”
In the first ASWA basketball rankings released on Wednesday, the Lady Bulldogs were ranked 14th in Class 1A. Smith felt disrespected by the ranking, but the players feel like the rankings right now don’t matter much.
“It really doesn’t matter,” senior Tiffany Vincent said. “We know how good we are and we don’t have to be ranked to show people that we are good.”
Winterboro won all four meetings against TC Central last season. Three of the four games were decided my single digits including a 36-35 win in the Talladega County Basketball Tournament.
The Lady Fighting Tigers have gotten off to a good start this season. TC Central has a 7-1 record which includes a win over Talladega. The Lady Fighting Tigers return the core of their players from last season’s team. Smith knows that tonight’s game is going to be tough.
“We have been fortunate,” Smith said. “We had a one-point win against them in the County Tournament; we’ve had a couple of close victories at their place, so it has just fallen on our side. I always scout TC; that is not a win for us. We don’t put anything past their team. Ti (Tiarrial Duncan) is a terrific player; she had a 30 point game this year. Coach Duncan lets her do her thing. Savona (Garrett) is very athletic. They have a shooter on the team and she is known to knock down some shots. I have scouted them two or three times. Those girls at TC they have a lot of pride. We don’t look at what we have been able to do or how successful we have been in the past –that don’t have any effect on Friday. We look at playing them and it is 0-0. They want to get back to a situation where they are area champs again. Coach Duncan can motivate those kids very well. I have a lot of respect for him. When we practice here we practice like it is the last game of the year against TC, because we have to go over everything.”
Jasmine Richardson averages 21.1 points per game this season for Winterboro. This season, she has tied her career high of 35 points twice in wins which included a win over Winterboro.
Morgan Merritt said Richardson helps her teammates get better when she is on the court. That showed when Merritt drained 5-12 from behind the arc in Winterboro’s over Westminster.
“Even though she is scoring all of those points she is not doing it by herself,” Morgan Merritt said. “Other teams would think she is a ball hog, but she still passes the ball even though she got all those points. When she passes me the ball she tells me to shoot the ball all the time.”
Smith hopes that both communities come to the game tonight to show their support. Vincent hopes that the fan show up tonight and for the rest of their remaining games.
“We have our fans when we play schools like this, but other games we don’t have our fans,” Vincent said. “They only show up for the rival games.”