BIRMINGHAM -- Big-time players step up in big games, and that’s what D’Corian Wilson did for Talladega in the playoffs.
Wilson was selected the Final Four MVP after scoring 19 points in the Class 4A championship game to lead the Tigers to their first state title in any sport in the playoff era. Talladega downed West Limestone in the final 60-48.
“It means a lot to be state champs because we know we were the first to do it,” Wilson said. “Our names are going down in the history books forever.
“Even when we pass on, our names will never leave Talladega. Everyone will know that we were the first ones to win a state championship. We were the first ones to bring Talladega a blue map.”
Wilson took over the for the Tigers in the game-deciding third quarter. Talladega outscored West Limestone 19-8 in the period to take control.
The junior guard scored nine points during the period.
“We just had to pick up the pace,” Wilson said. “In the first half, we were down, we knew we weren’t playing our type of ball. We had to pick up the energy. I knew I was going to have to hold my weight. My team depends on me a lot, so I had to step up and contribute for my team. I know when I contribute, I am a big part to our success.”
The game didn’t start off well for Wilson. He was forced to the sideline after taking a hit by his teammate going after the opening tap. After being checked, Wilson quickly returned to the game.
Talladega head coach Chucky Miller was pleased with the way Wilson returned to the game and the way he played during the Tigers’ run to the championship.
“He really stepped up,” Miller said. “I didn’t see the lick that he took to start the game. I heard that JQ (Wilson) hit him so hard that it ran him into the table. I didn’t see the play.
“D’Corian has grown up a lot; he has taken on a lot of responsibility. We needed him to handle the ball and be a big guard. We have been playing a lot of years with smaller good guards, but he gives you a big guard. He makes everybody around him better.”
Wilson took his game to another level in the postseason.
The 6-foot-1 floor general averaged 18.5 points in four games in the Northeast Regional Tournament and the Final Four.
During the regular season, Wilson averaged 11 points per game. Wilson credits the events following a loss to Anniston in the 4A, Area 9 Tournament championship game to his change in mindset.
“After we lost the area tournament, we had a couple of breakdowns with our team,” Wilson said. “A lot changed with our team. We had new players and we had a player to get kicked off the team. It was a lot of crazy stuff going on, so I had to step up as a player like I knew I was capable of doing. I didn’t have any choice.”
Going through adversity after the area tournament also brought a positive change to the Tigers as a whole.
“It brought us together big-time because we knew that we were all that we had,” he said. “We just had to come together as a team, because we knew that we couldn’t do it by ourselves. We knew that if we played together as a team it would be way easier for everybody and we would get it done. That’s what we did.”
Wilson said winning a championship at Talladega is something that he has always wanted to accomplish.
“I have been dreaming about this my whole life,” Wilson said. “I remember being little, me, JQ and Kobe (Simmons) would come to all the varsity games and regional finals. We were like, ‘When we get on varsity, we are going to win the state championship,’ and that’s what we did.”
Wilson said it was important to him and his teammates to win a championship for their head coach, Chucky Miller.
“It means a lot because Coach Miller has been coaching us for a long time,” Wilson said. “His father coached for a long time. Winning a state championship with Coach Miller means a lot to him. I know he is probably dedicating it to his father mostly. We are happy to win it for him because we know that’s what he has been searching for.”