Talladega pulled away in the fourth quarter and won the game, 85-56 to advance to the tournament finals.
The Tigers struggled offensively in the first half and Winterboro took advantage. Despite starting the game down 6-0, the Bulldogs fought back and trailed by just six at the end of the opening stanza.
The Bulldogs continued to dig in the second quarter and pulled to within one-point of the top seeded Tigers when Kenneth Estell hit two free throws with 3:36 to go until halftime. Talladega’s Tyler Mosley got a steal and an easy basket and then followed that with a three-pointer to extend the Tigers’ lead. The Bulldogs trailed 30-25 at intermission.
“There wasn’t much rhythm to the first half,” Talladega coach Chucky Miller said. “We made a lot of fouls and so when there’s not much rhythm it’s hard to get any consistency. We tried to correct it for the second half and I thought we did a lot better job in the second half. Winterboro got us playing out of sync the first half so they did a great job.”
Talladega came out stronger in the second half, but the Tigers were unable to put the game away in the third as Winterboro hit a couple of three-pointers to keep it a 10-point game at the end of the period.
The Tigers did manage to pull away in the fourth quarter and seal the win with strong shooting and solid defense.
Free throws hurt the Bulldogs in the game and Winterboro coach Anthony Jacks said his squad has struggled from the line this season. Winterboro shot just 34 percent from the charity stripe on Friday.
“That’s kind of been one of our things all year, free throws,” Jacks said. “We’ve worked on it, worked on it, worked on it. We’ve gotten better at it, but tonight it kind of looked like we looked early in the year. Here lately we’ve been shooting them pretty good.
“Free throws and rebounds were what killed us. They probably doubled us on the boards. It seemed like every loose ball it was just bouncing to their hands. But our guys were hustling and we played well.
“If you walked in at the end of the game and saw the score you wouldn’t have thought it was a close game, but I thought we gave them everything we had and all they wanted for the first, for the whole game. It just kind of got out of hand at the end of the game. But I was proud of the guys; they played hard.”
Brad Morris led Winterboro in scoring with 17 points. Marcus Jones added 11 while Colby Maddox chipped in with nine. Bacardy McClendon and Estell both had six for the Bulldogs.
Mosley led all scorers with 20 points. Jamarkius Truss added 10 for the Tigers. Sidney Scales had eight while Justin Fuller and Dominique Garrett both put up seven points for the Tigers.
Talladega advances to the finals where the Tigers will face host team and second seeded Childersburg. Childersburg defeated Sylacauga in the late game on Friday.
“We’re thankful to be back here (in the finals),” Miller said. “The kids have worked hard all year long to get back to the county finals.”
Tip-off for the finals game is set for 7:30 p.m. from Childersburg.