“It’s probably one of the oldest tournaments in the state,” Talladega (12-1) head coach Chucky Miller said. “It dates back to the ‘70s.”
While Lincoln has been a participant in past years, this year’s lineup of competing schools is exactly the same as last year’s, although obviously, each team will be different.
“Some years Lincoln is in it, but most years it’s been this group of Munford, Winterboro and TC,” Miller said. “They’ve got real good fan bases, and they like to come out to see the competition. It’s usually a good tournament. You don’t get to practice with everything on Christmas and things; you get to play and work on your game and [the games] aren’t an area tournament or county tournament involved. It’s just a regular tournament.”
If this year’s opening game of Munford versus TC Central is anything like last year’s contest, it is sure to be a nail-biter. Last year, TC Central won 57-54 in a game that came down to the wire. In that game, Munford’s returning senior Monteo Garrett led all scorers with 16 points, while TC Central’s Crystyle Stockdale led the Fighting Tigers with 12 points.
“Munford, TC and Winterboro have really upped their games the past couple years,” Miller said. “We expect strong competition from them. It gives a playoff atmosphere to prepare for the area and sub-state, and regionals. This tournament really prepares for that at the end of the year. It’ll be a good crowd because everybody wants to be here.”
In the finale between Talladega and TC Central, All-Tourney selection Ahmad Gooden score 10 points—in the third quarter alone. In the third quarter, Talladega pulled away for an eventual 96-54 win. It essentially served as a de facto championship game as both teams entered the game 2-0 in tournament play. Miller expects this year’s tournament to be similar.
“We’re taking some time off for the first of the week,” he said. “It’s Christmas; you’ve got to give them some time off. We’ll get back after the holidays. It’ll be just like last year. All the teams played real hard. For some reason, teams like Munford and TC really get into playing these tournaments, especially their fan bases.”
Speaking specifically of game one opponent Winterboro, Miller believes they are more than capable of having a strong tournament showing.
“I have not seen Winterboro this year,” Miller said.
“I’ve just seen that they’ve been pretty competitive and everything. We did see them last summer; we did not play them at the play date, but we did see them last summer. Some years Winteboro has a great team in this tournament.”
Miller said the tournament is a great opportunity for every team involved, win or lose, to get better as critical area games approach in only a few weeks.
“We expect a good turnout with the Christmas spirit in these games,” he said.
“Every team is just trying to get better this time of year. You usually play area games about a week and a half from now, about the second week of January. You want to get back on track. If you’re playing good, you want to sustain it. If you’re playing bad, you want to work on some things to get you better for January and February.”
Munford plays TC Central at 6 p.m. and Talladega hosts Winterboro at 7:30 p.m. with both games played at Chuck Miller Arena.
Contact Erich Hilkert at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @ehilkert