“Ahmad Gooden killed us in the first half,” Childersburg head coach Al Barnett said. “We couldn’t rebound; he kept getting rebounds and put backs. Rebounding was a big key in the first half. Of course, it was the same old story: missed free throws hurt us. We got some good looks; we just couldn’t knock them down. But the kids played hard. They play hard every game. Talladega has got some good players and they knocked down a couple 3s. No.12 (Josh Madden) hit some 3s to open things up for them on the inside.”
Gooden had 17 points in the first half, nearly as many as the entire Childersburg team.
Childersburg opened the game with a 5-0 lead. Sy Butler knocked down a 3-pointer and then had an assist to Jatorre Cook.
Gooden got to the free throw line early and hit three of four attempts to get Talladega back into it, 5-3. Josh Madden knocked down two 3-pointers and Gooden closed out the first quarter with a post basket to give Talladega a 16-7 lead.
Gooden continued to dominate the offensive glass, hitting two put backs and giving his teammates a number of second-chance opportunities in the second quarter.
Childersburg was able to keep things close by playing a slow tempo and converting three-point plays, even when the 3-point shots wouldn’t fall.
“Us and Talladega are kind of contrasting styles,” Barnett explained. “We want to play half-court defense and they want to press. I thought we did a pretty good job of dictating pace. Once they got it out to a 10, 12 point lead, we had to do some things we didn’t want to do and they got some easy baskets against us.”
Dre McElrath hit a close-range jumper and an ensuing free throw to cut Talladega’s lead 26-16 midway through the second quarter.
Gooden answered with a put back basket and two free throws. He close out the first half by hitting one of two free throws to give Talladega a 32-18 lead.
Cook and Butler helped keep the Childersburg offensive efforts going in the third quarter with Cook hitting two inside jumpers to open the quarter and cut the Talladega lead to 32-22. Madden later hit another 3-pointer to open up the Talladega lead to 36-22. Butler hit a floater to cut the lead to 42-29, but Childersburg was never able to erase Talladega’s double digit lead.
Talladega was able to put the game away by finishing the fourth quarter on a 10-2 run. Desmond Green started the run with a rebound and put back that more or less sealed the game with Talladega pushing their lead to 56-43 with less than three minutes left in the game.
“Both teams looked typical with the long layoff we’ve had this week,” Talladega head coach Chucky Miller said. “We executed pretty good; we just couldn’t make any shots. Luckily, we made a couple more shots than Childersburg. They played us good; we could never get the lead on them too much. We tried to execute and are just trying to get better after this long holiday we had.”
Despite the loss, Barnett was pleased to see his five seniors recognized before the game.
“Our five seniors have played hard their whole career here,” he said. “They battled through a lot of tough games this year and they come to practice each day and work hard. They’re a fun group to be around.”
Gooden and Madden led all scorers with each scoring 21 points. Childersburg was led by Butler, who finished with 10 points. Cook contributed nine points.
Childersburg won their earlier game against Holtville, 58-29.
Cook led the team in scoring with nine points, while Frank Wilkerson finished the game with eight points. Butler contributed seven points.
With the combined win and loss, Childersburg is now 9-16 on the season. Talladega improved to 25-2 overall.
Talladega will have their senior night Monday against Oxford at Chuck Miller Arena with tipoff slated for 7:30 p.m.
Childersburg plays at Vincent Monday with tipoff at 7:30 p.m.