With the win the Fighting Tigers advance to the semifinals against the winner of the Sylacauga/B.B.Comer game on Friday.
“We are happy to get it,” TC Central head coach Damien Dorsey said. “Childersburg is a big time 4A team and they are going to do well. One thing we need to do is make sure we play well. We tried to give the game away at the end. I talked to our guards about being focused and taking care of the ball.”
After going back and forth basket for basket in the first half, TC Central was finally able to distance themselves in the third quarter. Crystyle Stockdale’s three point play tied the game at 26-26. Tervarus Garrett put TC Central ahead 28-26. Childersburg responded with a 4-0 spurt to take a 30-28 lead on a Bobby Brown layup. The second seed team in the tournament responded with a 17-2 run. Dewayne Wallace’s layup put TC Central ahead 34-32. Back-to-back baskets off their full court press by Monteo Jones increased their lead to 38-32 with 2:51 left in the third quarter. Tervarus Garret scored five of his 18 points in nine seconds. After draining a pair of free throws, the Fighting Tigers got a turnover off of their press. After swinging the ball around the perimeter, Garrett was found wide open for a 3-pointer at the top of the key to give the Fighting Tigers their biggest lead of the night 43-32 with 2:02 left in the quarter. Wallace connected on a putback to put TC on top 45-34 with a minute left.
Childersburg’s Sy Butler scored four straight points to cut the lead down to 46-38 going to the final period.
“The third quarter was big,” Dorsey said. “We tried to save the press until the second half; we finally got some good steals and got momentum going. Then we got pressed; we couldn’t handle it. That has been our Achilles heel all year and it is going to remain until our guards can take care of the basketball.”
In the fourth quarter, back-to-back three point plays by Casey Smith and Butler cut the Fighting Tigers lead down to 51-44 with 6:51 left in the game.
Stockdale pushed TC Central’s lead back to double digits with a layup in transition to make it 51-41 with seven minutes left. His layup off of a jump stop increased their lead to 55-44, but Childersburg battled back.
A three point play by Dre McElrath cut the lead down to 55-51 with 2:06 left. TC Central struggled late in handling Childersburg’s pressure. Jarius Patterson scored a layup off a turnover to cut the lead down to 55-53 with 1:28 left in the game. Tervarus Garrett nailed a pair of free throws to push TC Central lead to 57-53.
Butler responded with a three point play to make it a one point game, 57-56 with 1:11 left in the game. Stockdale responded on the other end of the court as he took a bump and was able to connect on a layup. Stockdale drained the ensuing free throw to make it 60-56 with a minute left.
Butler pulled the Tigers within a point late in the game off a layup to make it 60-59. Stockdale turned the ball over in the back court which led to McElrath getting fouled. He missed both opportunities to tie or take the lead.
On the other end, Tervarus Garrett split a pair from the stripe to make it 61-59 with 17 seconds left. Trevor Bates turned the ball over for Childersburg. After a timeout Stockdale was fouled. The junior hit the first one and watched the second one rim out. Butler rushed down the court and threw up a 3-pointer that hit the back board them came off the front rim as time expired.
“We have done that all year,” Childersburg head coach Al Barnett said. “We will dig a hole, come back, and then fall short. That is just how it has been this year. If you don’t make free throws and shots around the basket, it is hard to win. The kids played hard and they play hard every game, but sometimes we don’t play real smart. TC has a good team, we had a long dry spell in the third quarter and their press gave us trouble and we turned the ball over a good bit. We just have to go back to the grindstone to get better.”
Crystyle Stockdale led TC with 27 points.
“He could have had more,” Dorsey said. “He missed some free throws. He missed the free throw to win the game. That is what I talked to him about having that killer instinct. 27 is only good when you win and we won, but he could have had 35. He missed a lot of free throws and that has been our Achilles heel, so we are going to keep working on that.”
Butler and Jatorre Cook led Childersburg with 14 points apiece.