Sylacauga High School’s boys basketball team will face Tallassee this afternoon at 1:30 in the Class 5A Southeast Regional Tournament at Garrett Coliseum in Montgomery.
Sylacauga will be appearing in regionals for the fifth straight season.
“When you work as hard as we do and put in all the stuff in the preseason and summer, this is somewhere you expect to be,” Sylacauga head coach Kent Fullington said. “It is really rewarding that the hard work paid off. I am super excited for the community and the kids.
“Basketball is a tournament sport, so the last game doesn’t matter or have any effect on this game. You have to show up and be ready to play because every round is going to be a tougher game.
“These are the elite teams that we are playing. I don’t have any doubt in the world that our kids are going to come out ready to play.”
The Aggies defeated No. 5 Woodlawn 74-68 to advance to regionals. Shannon Grant led the way with 21 points.
The 6-foot-10 senior forward is the lone Sylacauga player with significant experience in the regional tournament.
Grant had a coming-out party last season in Montgomery. The Mercer commit averaged 19 points and 15 rebounds in two games, including a 21-point and 17-rebound performance in a heartbreaking 59-58 loss to Ramsay in the Elite 8.
“His experience alone spreads confidence and knowledge to the younger kids,” Fullington said. “It is not like we are coming in here like, ‘What do we expect?’ We are coming in here riding the momentum that we already generated. We always preach being fearless in our program, and that’s the mindset that we will have going forward.”
Even though Grant gets most of the attention, Sylacauga has had several other players step up through the year.
Fullington calls his squad “the deepest team in the state,” and it has shown. In the sub-regional game, Christian Tywmon came off the bench to score 17 points. Crews Proctor also had a strong performance as he scored 15.
“Crews has been solid for us all season,” Fullington said. “I think the unsung heroes for this season have been Shandarous Grant and Christian Twymon. They have been getting better and better every game.”
Sylacauga will need its depth against a talented Tallassee team.
The Tigers (27-4) defeated Charles Henderson 55-53 on Tuesday to advance to the regional tournament. The 2019-20 Tigers are considered one, if not the best team in school history.
“They have played some quality opponents,” Fullington said. “They have a great starting lineup. We have to come up ready to play. We have to know where the shooters are. We have to defend the ball really well. We have to box out and rebound.
“If we box out and rebound, then we can gain momentum throwing the ball inside and pushing the ball with pace.”