“Basketball is kind of unique to all sports where the regular season does mean something in hosting the area tournament,” head coach Chucky Miller said. “You want to win that, but also basketball is a tournament game and you’ve got to finish it off in the tournament side of it, too. We’re happy to be hosting. It’s always better to play at home than to travel.”
The opening game features area opponents Chilton County and Shelby County at 6 p.m. Talladega will face a familiar opponent in the second game of the night: Sylacauga, with tipoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m. In the first round of the area tournament, the format is: win or have the season draw to a close. Talladega defeated Sylacauga in both regular season meetings.
At Sylacauga, the Aggies used their hot shooting touch to their advantage and remained in the game until the final minute, eventually falling 66-61.
“It’s two good teams playing. Sylacauga shoots the ball so good,” Miller said. “All four guards that they rotate in can shoot the ball real well. You’re always worried about a team that can hit 3s because you might be playing good, but if the other team is hitting a lot of shots it just seems it goes to the team that is hitting all the shots.”
More recently, when the two teams played at Talladega, the Tigers dominated from the beginning and won handily, 59-48. The team was much more aggressive defensively, holding Sylacauga’s hot shooting in check.
“We’ve got to get up on them,” Miller said. “You can’t just let them get good looks. We found out at Sylacauga in the first game they hit five 3 pointers on us in the first quarter the first time we played. I don’t know if we were expecting that or not, but they shot the ball good. I noticed lately they’ve been attacking the basket. So, you’ve got to be able to cover their shots and also their drives.”
Ahmad Gooden has stepped up as one of the team’s leading scorers over the last three games. Against Benjamin Russell, he led the team in scoring and rebounding, finishing with 26 points and 17 rebounds. Gooden tallied yet another double-double in the team’s most recent game on Senior Night against Oxford, finishing the game with 10 points and 14 rebounds.
“Ahmad is a two-year starter,” Miller said. “He’s been very consistent both years for us. Lately, he’s been getting both rebounds and points each game. He’s so physical inside that sometimes you’ve got to put two people on him to stop him. That may open up other people. If he’s having a good game, it’s very hard to stop him because he is very quick and such a big person.”
Talladega hosts Sylacauga tonight at 7:30 p.m.