“We always say it, but there is nothing really like Sylacauga and Talladega,” Sylacauga head coach Josh Golden said. “I know there are a lot of good rivalries in the area, but this is as good as it gets in my opinion. It is two really good teams that I think are both playing pretty well as of late. It is important for a lot of reasons. First of all, it is important because it is a rivalry game. Anytime that you play Talladega you want to win. It is a preview of the first round of the area tournament. We will play them again in a month, so we need to play well to gain confidence. They beat us the first time and obviously we would like to even the series. We haven’t played at home in a few weeks, so hopefully it will be a big crowd and an exciting game.”
Talladega (14-6,3-2) pulled out a 59-55 victory on Dec.7. Talladega head coach Chucky Miller knows that it is difficult to leave Sylacauga with a victory.
“It is going to be a war down there,” Miller said. “I am pretty sure that it is going to be a sellout or close to a sell out crowd. The team that makes the most plays is going to win. There are going to be ups and downs on both sides of the ball, so you have to play through it. Sylacauga has an excellent team. They are just like us, they have a lot of new faces, but 20 games into the season the new faces have some experience. We expect a lot different game than the first one. That was our seventh or eighth game, so both of us have played 12 games since then. I know Sylacauga is better because I have seen them. Hopefully, we will be better too.”
The first month and half of the season been a learning experienced for the inexperienced Aggies. Coming into the season, Sylacauga only had two players with varsity experience returning. Golden believed that his team would begin to peak around this part of the season.
“I thought once January came we would really hit our stride, because we had so many new faces,” Golden said. “We have so many guys that didn’t have varsity experience and I think we kind of started the season getting to the level where we want to play at during the Childersburg tournament. We beat two ranked 4A schools including Childersburg at their place. I think that gave us some confidence. The other night we played Shelby County, the No.6 team in the state. We led all night and had our chances to win. We played really well. I think we are more focused than we were. Most importantly, guys are getting us to playing varsity basketball and playing in front of big crowds. I think this was their first time playing in this level, now we are getting more comfortable.”
Miller believes the team that executes the most down the stretch will earn a victory.
“When you come to Sylacauga you have to come play hard, because the intensity is so high and both teams will make mistakes just from the effort that you put forth,” Miller said. “Everybody is giving 100 percent on both sides. I guarantee it won’t be a game in the state of Alabama that will be given as much effort as the game on Friday night on both sides. We get after each other and we try to play basketball. Who ever has the best skills will win the game that night and that is how basketball should be played.”
For Sylacauga, winning the battle of the glass and handling Talladega’s press is going to be vital if they are going to earn a victory.
“I think we need to do a better job of handling the pressure than we did the first time we played them,” Golden said. “Rebounding is huge for us. We went back and watched that film. I think they hurt us on the offensive glass. We have to hold them to no shot or one shot every possession. If it’s zero we forced a turnover. If it is make or miss we have to get the rebound. Last time they hurt us on the offensive glass.”
Tip off set for 7:30 p.m.