Head coach Derrick Crawford hopes that attendance will be better when Sylacauga host Ben Russell in the Class 5A Sub-Regional tournament on Thursday night at 7 p.m.
“First of all I want to congratulate my girls for their third straight area championship,” Crawford said. “I am very disappointed this afternoon for us to play this basketball game for the area championship and we only have 45 people in the stands. You have a McDonald’s All-American, the type of caliber that the people in this town will never in their life time see again and we are not getting the support that I think these kids should get. We have been a top 4 team all year. We need the community to get behind us right now, it is very important that they get behind us and support the cause of what these young ladies are trying to accomplish. We are playing decent right now and have the opportunity to do something special. We play next Thursday at 7 p.m. and the winner advance to Alabama State. We need everybody to get on board to give us a true home court advantage. Right now we don’t have a home court advantage, the last two nights we played. The opposing team has more fans in the stands than we do. That is very disappointing when you look up there you some cheerleaders and the players, parents and have that fan base. This is a basketball school with state championships in the girls basketball, it is just disappointing. “
Talladega played tough defense in the first quarter as they help Sylacauga to eight points, but that didn’t last long as Shakayla Thomas began to get into a groove in the second quarter. Thomas scored 12 of her game-high 41 points in the second quarter. She also had a pretty assist as she threw a pass the length of the court to Kayla Dark for a layup to increase their lead to 22-8.
“Coach Keith had her kids ready to play today especially in the first half,” Crawford said. “It was a defensive battle in the first half. I think the difference in the ball game is that we were able to make a few more shots, especially Shakayla, that was the difference in the first half. In the second half we pressed our will on them defensively. About the six minute mark we were able to separate ourselves defensively. We are 1-0, these kids want another game. We will stay 1-0 for the next couple of days, we will get practice in and start preparing here for Valley or Ben Russell. We got better defensively at times, at the end it got kind of ugly, but I am still pleased with my kids effort.”
Thomas continued to score at will in the third quarter. The reigning Class 5A Player of the Year scored 16 points in the third quarter, which put the game out of reach. Thomas opened the quarter with a jumper to make it 24-12. Off a Talladega turnover she scored on a left hand layup to make to 28-12. Thomas went to work in the post as she was able rise over her defenders and for a turnaround jumper to make it 36-12. Thomas layup at the end of the quarter gave Sylacauga a 40-16 lead going to the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter Tierra Dark penetrated through the lane and found Bri’Asia Richardson on a layup to make 50-29.
Talladega tried to battle back behind the strong play of Maya Buckhannon and Shemeshia Truss. Buckhannon scored 10 points in the fourth quarter. The eighth grader drove to the basket for a layup to make it 56-36. Truss also 10 points in the quarter including a pair of 3-pointers including one to cut the lead down to 56-42.