ALPINE -- No. 7-ranked Winterboro advanced to its sixth straight high school basketball area championship game with a 63-29 win over Victory Christian in a semifinal at the Class 1A, Area 8 tournament Tuesday night.
“We came out with a lot of energy tonight, which is something that we have been in dire need of for the last four or five games,” Winterboro head coach Sheroderick Smith said. “My challenge to my team is, ‘Will you challenge the next team that on paper will give you a challenge.’ If we’re not doing that, we shouldn’t get excited about this game.
“We focused on the 3-point shot tonight because we want to add that back in to our arsenal like we did in the first part of the year. Our post players have been working well; we want to be a balanced team.
“We have to be able to run set plays. Because of the region that we are in, we are dealing with half-court teams with not a lot of transition offense. You have to be a balanced team, you have to be able to run transition offense, run half-court sets and play fundamentally sound basketball.”
Winterboro will play host to archrival Talladega County Central in the area final Friday at 5:30 p.m. Winterboro swept the season series, which included an overtime victory Jan.18.
“We are very blessed to be in the area title game for six consecutive years,” Smith said. “The last game we played at Howell’s Cove, we had luck on our side and the basketball Gods on our side.
“It is very similar to when we played over there two years ago when one our girls fouled one of their girls, and she made all three shots -- they won on a last second shot in overtime. It is going to be a great game on Friday night.
“I want our girls to stay focused on playing a complete basketball game. I want my seniors to play as hard as they ever did, because there is a chance that they could play TC again. This may not be the last game, but it is my seniors’ last home game against Talladega County Central.”
The Lady Bulldogs jumped out to a 15-2 lead. Aniya Burroughs scored six points in the opening minutes, and her putback gave Winterboro a 6-2 edge.
Anslea Twymon benefited from Victory Christian turnovers in the opening period. The senior guard scored eight of her 10 first-quarter points off of fast-break layups. Twymon’s layup off of a Nadia Estelle steal gave Winterboro a 15-2 lead.
Estelle got going late in the quarter. The senior forward scored nine points in the period, which included a 3-pointer to give the Lady Bulldogs a 25-2 margin.
Taniya Garrett closed out the quarter with a 3-pointer to give Winterboro a 30-2 advantage.
In the second quarter, Morgan Merritt made Victory Christian pay for not guarding her by draining back-to-back 3s to increase Winterboro’ s lead to 40-6.
The Lady Bulldogs took a 44-6 advantage into halftime.
Victory Christian’s Allison Harris was able to get going offensively in the third quarter. Harris scored all 12 of her points in the period. Winterboro took a 59-23 lead into the final eight minutes.
Twymon led Winterboro with 19 points. Estelle scored 13 for the Lady Bulldogs. Garrett contributed nine, while Burroughs and Merritt chipped in eight apiece.
“A game like this helps us in so many ways,” Smith said. “Morgan Merritt found her stroke after a few shots; she actually got her confidence back. She has been great passing the ball as well.
“We had balanced scoring from Nadia (Estelle), Anslea (Twymon). We didn’t get as much from Aniya (Burroughs), but that doesn’t mean that she is not capable of scoring. Sometimes we set up things like that to balance scoring out in those crucial games.”