Sylacauga defeats Winterboro, 73-45 to win County
by LAVONTE YOUNG
The Sylacauga Lady Aggies won the Talladega County Tournament.
CHILDERSBURG- Shakayla Thomas scored a career high 49 points to lead the Sylacauga Lady Aggies past Winterboro, 73-45 in the 2013 Talladega County Basketball Tournament finals on Saturday.

This is the Lady Aggies first county championship since the 2006 season.

“I am proud to be County champs again,” Sylacauga head coach Derrick Crawford said. “We came out with great intensity. We started the game out slow and we got a timeout. The kids came back after that quarter and I thought they did a great job. In the third quarter we let Jasmine get off and we are still upset about that. For the most part, we held them to 45. We are going to roll our sleeves up on Monday and get ready for Anniston on Tuesday. My hat goes off to Coach Smith and his team. His girls played really hard. Our focus now is the postseason play.”

Both teams came out to a slow start in the first quarter.

Nadia Estelle got things going for Winterboro with a layup to give them a 2-0. Tanesha Merritt gave Winterboro a 4-2 advantage with a bank shot.

Dede Mitchell scored four quick points for the Lady Aggies to cut the lead 6-5.

Thomas scored 10 points in the first quarter for Sylacauga. Off a Winterboro turnover, Thomas took the basketball and did a euro step to the left past Winterboro’s Jasmine Richardson for a layup to make it 7-6. That basket sparked a13-2 run to end the quarter. Freshman Kiara Pope hit a layup to make it 12-6. Thomas scored six straight points, which included a floater to make it 18-6. Kayla Dark hit a layup to give Sylacauga a 20-8 lead going into the second quarter.

Thomas continued to heat up in the second quarter. The reigning Class 5A Player of the Year scored 12 points in the quarter. Her 3-pointer at the buzzer gave the Lady Aggies a 37-16 lead.

“I just had a feeling,” Thomas said. “I felt like we should be champions. I worked hard in practice and it showed in the game.”

After struggling in the first half, Richardson was able to get things going for the Lady Bulldogs. She scored 12 of her 18 points in the second half, which included six in the third. Her floater with 4:34 left in the quarter cut the Sylacauga lead to 43-26.

Thomas scored 14 points in the third quarter for Sylacauga. The Lady Aggies stifling defense was able to force turnovers, which allowed Thomas to use her speed to run past defenders for layups. Thomas hit a turnaround jumper to end the quarter to give Sylacauga a 57-30 lead going to the final quarter.

Richardson scored seven straight points for Winterboro to open the fourth quarter to make it 59-37.

Thomas scored 12 points in the fourth quarter including a jumper with less than four minutes left to give her 47 points, which breaks the Talladega County Basketball single game point record of 46 points that was set earlier this week by Lincoln’s Ty Sillmon on Monday.

With the win, the Lady Aggies winning streak increased to 12 games. During the winning streak Sylacauga has not allowed a team to score over 45 points.

We take pride in our defense, Pope said. “We just get down the floor. We try to stop every ball; we work on our angles and not being flat. We work on it every practice. We work on it hard everyday and that’s our No.1 thing, defense.

Sylacauga senior, Maliyah Patton, was elated about winning the county championship in her senior season.

"Being the Talladega County champs is one of the goals that we wanted to accomplish,” Patton said. “We just went out and played hard to try to get it. We knew Winterboro was not going to lay down and let us beat them.”

Thomas earned Offensive MVP honor for Sylacauga. She gives all the credit to her teammates.

“I wouldn’t have MVP if it wasn’t for my team,” Thomas said. “Everything I do is evolved around them. They help me out with this award and I dedicate this to them.”

The Lady Aggies had three players to earn a spot on the 2013 Talladega County All-Tournament team: Kiara Pope, Dede Mitchell and Kayla Dark. Mitchell also earned the Justin Martin award. This award was named after a former Sylacauga head coach Justin Martin. The award goes a female player that overcame adversity this year.

Winterboro had three players to earn a spot on the team: Anslea Twymon and Tanesha Merritt. Jasmine Richardson earned Defensive MVP.

Ty Sillmon represented Lincoln. Tiarrial Duncan and Savona Garrett represented TCC. Mac Kelly and Cierra Swain represented Childersburg.

© 2013