“Our point possession went up tonight and our defense played better tonight,” Winterboro head coach Sheroderick Smith said. “At the end of the day, we believed in each other. We’re for each other. I thought the kids came out prepared, even in the mistakes. I’m not going to get on top of kids because of mistakes. It’s going to happen. They were open to criticism as far as learning. We’re going to moving forward and look forward to Westminster on Monday.”
With the win, Talladega advances to play Munford in the boys semifinals Friday at 6 p.m. at host site Sylacauga.
In the first quarter, Winterboro led by as much as 14-8 following a 3-point shot by Phillip Cook. Talladega began to give the Bulldogs problems with their pressure defense, sparking the Tigers to a 7-2 run. After Josh Wilson converted a 3-point play, Talladega had cut the Winterboro lead to 16-15. Kyle Washington scored on an easy layup set up by Phillip Cook to give Winterboro a 19-16 lead at the end of first quarter.
“This is the first time we’ve played a 4:30 game and it looked like we didn’t even show up for it,” Talladega head coach Chucky Miller said. “You just try to survive and advance in tournament play. We’ve got to get a lot better by the weekend. If not, it’s going to be an early exit.”
Talladega gained the upper hand in the second quarter, opening up with a 12-1 run. D’Angelo Scales capped the run with a transition layup to give Talladega a 28-20 lead.
Winterboro responded with a 10-3 run. Washington started the run with a 3-pointer, while capped the run with an inside basket off-the-glass to cut the Talladega lead to 31-29.
Talladega ended the first half on a 6-0 run. Wilson scored twice during the run, on a lay-in down low and on a baseline jumper that helped Talladega to a 37-29 halftime lead.
“I thought Josh Wilson and Kendarius Smith came off the bench, along with Deangelo Pointer, and played real well for us,” Miller said. “They got us going. They seemed to have more energy than some of the starters.”
Talladega outscored Winterboro 18-14 in the third quarter to stretch their lead to 55-43.
They opened the fourth quarter on an 8-3 run to pull away for the win. Wilson and Ahmad Gooden both had second-chance baskets to cap the run and give Talladega a 63-46 lead.
Jutorrius Cook led Winterboro with 23 points and 17 rebounds. Washington was also in double figures with 19 points. Washington also contributed four steals. Phillip Cook chipped in seven points.
Gooden led Talladega with 16 points, while Josh Madden finished the game with 14 points. Scales was also in double-digits with 10 points. Wilson contributed nine points.
Despite the loss, Smith was pleased with the way his team stuck with each other throughout the game.
“Jutorrius had an outstanding game on the boards, close to 20 rebounds,” Smith said. “Kyle had a good shooting night. Phillip only turned the ball over once in the first half. Those are the differences for our team in the first half. We started talking about: how can we get to the regionals this year? How can we still compete for the area? This game was a measuring stick for us. I thought we withstood some of their pressure tonight. I saw a lot of good things. Our team stuck together tonight; that’s all I ask for my team. Don’t turn on each other. You’ve got to have people that are with you when you’re up and when you’re down. That’s what I preach to my boys, because we win with the same kids and we lose with the same kids. At the end of the day, we’re all for each other. We’re not going to be up and down; we’re not going to be fair-weathered friends, we’re not going to be fair-weathered teammates. When they graduate and become productive residents of their community, they’ll be some very, very distinguished fans one day.”