“Booker T. Washington has got a fine team,” Miller said. “They’ve got two twins (Cortez and Cornelius Gibbs) inside about 6’5” and about 240 (pounds). They do a lot of damage on the inside. We’re going to have to stop their inside game. They play three guards also and two of them are very good shooters. So, we’re going to have to be up on our defensive game. We’re going to have to have a great defensive effort.”
Talladega’s main post player, Ahmad Gooden, has had multiple double-doubles to close out the season and has matched up well against opposing post players, but Miller knows the Tigers will have to give him help in trying to defend two physically imposing post players.
“Ahmad can match—maybe not height-wise but size-wise—with one of the two,” Miller said. “We’re going to have to use our quickness to guard the other one. I don’t know exactly how we’re going to be able to do that, but this is the way we’ve got to play. We don’t have that much size and weight, so we’ve got to play our style and they’re big guys have to guard us, too. Maybe it will even out.”
Talladega (28-2) has not lost a game in more than a month while reeling off 12 straight wins and winning the class 5A Area 8 championship.
“We’re on a streak right here and it starts with our defense and our intensity in what we’re doing,” Miller said. “We’ve been executing the offense pretty good; we’ve been getting some second shots and put backs and following shots and that’s been helping out also.”
The team’s junior captain, D’Angelo Scales, has managed to put up impressive numbers while directing the offense and being a big contributor on defense.
“D’Angelo Scales, our point guard, has been playing excellent the last two weeks,” Miller said. “This is our first guard that we’ve had since ’08—Justin Evans—to have 100 assists and steals in one year. That’s very hard to do, especially the steals aspect. He’s such an all-around guard and he’s been running our offense. It just shows you that he’s playing real good defense also.”
B.T. Washington finished runner-up in class 5A area 5 after falling to Valley in the championship game, 63-59.
Among shared opponents, both Talladega and B.T. Washington (15-11) split two games against Ben Russell, with each team winning at home and losing while on the road. Miller said having the home crowd behind the team will be a key advantage.
“We need the crowd out Friday night,” he said. “This is a round of the playoffs. If we can win, we’d move on to the regionals, so we need good crowd support. Hopefully, people have been inside all week resting up, so they’ll be anxious to get out on Friday night.”