TC Central hung in for a little while, cutting the lead down to 8-6 following a successful two points for Julius Player as he drove along the baseline to hit a shot.
After that Talladega’s pressure defense was too much to TC Central to handle.
Trey Riggins stole the ball and handed it to Damion Hawkins for an easy layup to give Talladega a 15-6 lead.
“At halftime, I believe Trey Riggins had seven steals and eight assists and a lot of them were he stole the ball and gave somebody a layup,” Talladega head coach Chucky Miller said. “That was great in the first half. I don’t know how many he ended up with, but that is excellent play there. TC is a lot better. They’re attacking, but tonight all our players were on their game.”
TC Central had a potential matchup problem for Talladega in their new addition to the team, center Lamar Suttle. However, they were unable to use him to their advantage.
“The guards have got to handle the ball,” TC Central head coach Damien Dorsey said. “It’s very important. If we can’t get into it with our guards, the low post can’t come into effect. So, I couldn’t even play my big man [Lamar Suttle] tonight because of the way the guards we’re handling the ball. We couldn’t get it inside to them. It nullified where we had our advantage.”
Talladega led 26-12 by the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Talladega went on an 8-0 run that was capped by Justin Kelly laying in an easy basket for two points on a fast break situation. TC Central responded, as Julius Player nailed two free throw shots. However, at that point it merely cut the deficit to 20 points at 34-14. By halftime, Talladega had upped their lead to 51-25.
Talladega was efficient enough on offense to have five players with five points or more at halftime.
“I believe in the first half, we came ready to play,” Miller said. “We played 11 in the first half and all 11 of them scored, so if all 11 are scoring in the first half you know you’re going to have in the forties or 50 points. I thought we moved the ball good, we looked for teammates, we’re not depending on any one guy to be the star. It’s just the team that’s the star.”
In the fourth quarter, TC Central was given a technical foul while a Talladega player was in the middle of shooting a free throw. TC Central was down 73-38 when the technical foul was issued. Talladega’s Josh Maddin made both of the technical foul free throws and Talladega went on to win 80-40.
Julius Player was the leading scorer for TC Central with a game-high 17 points.
For Talladega, Josh Maddin led the way with 14 points, while Justin Kelly scored 12 points. Ahmad Gooden chipped in 10 points.
Dorsey said the game was a valuable experience because it highlighted the team’s weakness and playing against a team with such intensity as Talladega gives his team a chance to try to improve.
“That’s why we’re working on our stuff, working on our press, working on our press breaker,” Dorsey said. “We worked on that. We’ve still got to handle pressure. That’s the main thing. That’s our weak link. If we can handle the pressure, we’re going to be able to play with anybody. Until our guards handle the pressure, we’re going to keep getting losses like this one to Talladega.”
Miller said regardless of who Talladega faces for the Tournament Final, they will need to play their best to have a chance to win.
“County Tournament is very important, but you’ve still got other tournaments to play,” he said. “This is the one in the moment. So, you need to concentrate. Whoever we play, we’ve got to be ready because any team left can win the tournament. Whoever we play, we’re just happy to be there.”