Sheroderick Smith, Winterboro boys enjoyed historic 2015-16 season

Winterboro head coach Sheroderick Smith led the Bulldogs to 20 wins and an area championship a year ago.

Bob Crisp/The Daily Home/file

ALPINE -- “Sleep” is a term Winterboro High School head boys and girls basketball coach Sheroderick Smith isn’t too familiar with.  

The veteran coach will have two teams in today’s Class 1A Northeast Regional tournament at Jacksonville State. Smith will coach the girls against Cedar Bluff at 6 p.m. and the boys against Cedar Bluff at 7:30.

“As I stated every year since I have been here, I’ll go to sleep in March,” Smith said. “What’s the point of sleeping right now? The girls team needs me, the boys team needs me and my son needs me as well. What’s the point of going to sleep?

“Right now, my sleep is in planning and preparation for the next game for both teams. My administration gives me ample opportunity to prepare for teams. I have scouted for the last four to six weeks the projected teams that we are probably going to play.

“We are going to go out here and, hopefully, have the best matchup. Honestly, it’s nothing that I haven’t done before. This is my fourth playoff run with the boys; this is just our first time of winning the area and going to regionals. In preparing for both, the thing that is pushing me is just knowing that we have the opportunity to do something that hasn’t been done in years.”

Winterboro’s boys defeated Faith Christian 70-53 to advance to the regional tournament for the first time in 13 years. Leon Estelle recorded a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds against Faith Christian. The senior forward said it is a great feeling to accomplish one of the goals the Bulldogs have been striving for the past four years.

“It feels good to accomplish something that hasn’t been done in a long time,” Estelle said. “We had a big push last year and we almost made it. It feels good (to finally advance to the regional tournament). We have been putting in a lot of hard work, and it has paid off.”

Smith doesn’t want his team to be complacent with just making it to Jacksonville, but he knows if the Bulldogs come out flat against Cedar Bluff, Winterboro will be the team going home and preparing for baseball season.

“Based on practice, it is not looking good for the boys,” Smith said on Wednesday.  “I hope our guys pick it up and understand that Cedar Bluff is not going to lay down for anybody. They have goals just like we have goals. I expect Cedar Bluff to apply pressure to us and do what they do.

“If our guys don’t pick it up, it will be an early exit. Our guys have to understand that they have to be motivated from within. It is four games to go for every team playing in the Sweet 16, and that is a great accomplishment, but we don’t want that to be our only accomplishment.”

No. 10-ranked Cedar Bluff (18-12) advanced to the regional tournament with a 56-46 win over Skyline. Smith said he knows Cedar Bluff will be prepared to play from the opening tip.

“They have three great players,” Smith said.  “They have a 6-foot-4 kid (Michael Croft) that can defend and shoot the 3-ball. They have two guards that can get to the basket, those kids are real good. They have a good nucleus of the big three, then they have some role players that aren’t on scouting sheet.

“They have some kids that box out and rebound. They cause a lot of turnovers that don’t go on scouting sheet. Cedar Bluff is a good team; they got recognized in the poll throughout the year, and that is for a reason. They do what they do consistently.”

Winterboro senior Alexander McGhee knows the Bulldogs will have to play their best if they are going to advance to the regional final Monday.

“It is going to take everything we got,” McGhee said. “We know that it is going to be tough, but we are going to have to come out strong. Everybody needs to have the same mindset. We need to do whatever we need to do to the get the job done. ”