Talladega County Central High School’s girls basketball team will look to get over a hump today when it takes on Valley Head at 3 p.m. in the Class 1A Northeast Regional Tournament at Pete Mathews Coliseum at Jacksonville State University.
The Lady Fighting Tigers have made it to regionals the past five years but have been eliminated each time in the Sweet 16.
Last season, the Lady Fighting Tigers fell to Skyline 59-47. TC Central coach Robert Duncan said he feels his team is better prepared mentally and physically this season.
“We are trying to stay even keel,” Duncan said. “We can’t just dismiss the past. We can’t change what happened in the past, but we try to keep our mind focused on what we have ahead of us.”
Valley Head (13-10) defeated Lindsay Lane 56-49 to advance to regionals. Valley Head has played some of its best basketball to close out the season. The Lady Tigers have won five out of their last seven games.
“They are a solid basketball team. They are fundamentally sound and they shoot the basketball really well,” Duncan said. “From seeing them, they really love to shoot the basketball from 3-point range.
“They put pressure on the ball periodically. We have to be able to handle the pressure. We have to be able to limit their shots at the basket.
“Anytime you have a team that shoots the ball as well as they do, you can’t allow them to get a number of shots every time down the floor. We can’t allow them to get a lot of offensive rebounds. The main thing we have to do is get out and contest their shots. We also have to keep them off of the foul line. They shoot the ball well at the foul line.”
TC Central (22-9) edged Coosa Christian 52-50 on Monday to advance to the regional tournament.
The Lady Fighting Tigers got off to a slow start and trailed 11-4 in the first period.
Duncan believes rallying to win a big game was good for his team, but he doesn’t want the Lady Fighting Tigers to get in the habit of starting slow.
“We want to be able to get off to a fast start and control the tempo of the game,” he said. “Our sub-region game posed a lot of challenges, but it was a good win for us because we had to grind it out. I just love wins like that … I think it helps develop us and grow us up.
“If we can get off to a fast start, I think it will be beneficial to us, and even if we don’t, we have experience of getting off to slow starts and still being able to overcome it.”
Duncan said the schedule TC Central played during the summer and throughout the season has prepared the Lady Fighting Tigers for this moment.
“We played a very tough summer schedule. We played teams that are similar in style as Valley Head,” he said. “Our rigorous regular-season schedule is going to help us as well. We have played a variety of styles throughout the year. We played some real athletic teams, fundamental teams and some really good shooting the ball.
“We feel like we have done our due diligence. We just have to go out and perform on the floor.”