Talladega freshman Trinity Webb was held scoreless in the first quarter.
Like that was really going to last.
Webb scored a game-high 31 down the stretch to lead the Tigers to a 62-46 win over Sylacauga in the Class 5A, Area 8 championship on Friday night.
“No, I don’t know what was going on,” Webb said when asked about the first quarter. “But I knew in the second half, (when) we came back from halftime, I had to take over.”
That’s exactly what she did, especially in the last two minutes of the third quarter and the first three minutes of the fourth. During that stretch, Webb scored 12 unanswered points to give the Tigers a 50-37 lead.
That’s probably also the point where she wrapped up the area tournament MVP award.
“I just think it is great I get to coach her,” Talladega coach Rebecca Williams said. “When I was on the opposite end (as a Sylacauga assistant), I was thinking if you could just stop that kid, but she is so powerful and knows how to attack the ball. So I am just so thankful to have her for three more years.”
The Tigers needed that sort of spurt from Webb to retake the lead from Williams’ former team in the third after the Aggies used a 13-2 run of their own to take a one-point lead with less than three minutes left in the third quarter.
Sylacauga’s late surge was due largely thanks to junior Dee Smith and senior Catherine Hickey, who sank two and one 3-point shots, respectively, in little more than a minute of play.
Smith finished with a team-high 16 points, while Hickey scored all five of her points during that run.
“Honestly, tonight, I feel like as a team, we did not come together as a whole,” Sylacauga coach Destiny Frazier said. “One quarter we had Dakota (Johnson), then after that, they stopped her. Then after that, we had like a guard step up, and then after that, we had another guard step up. … So after a while I feel like we never clicked as a team as a whole.”
Three to know:
— Speaking of Johnson, the Sylacauga senior looked unstoppable near the hoop in the first period when she scored eight points. The Aggies took a 10-7 lead at the end of the quarter.
Johnson added three more points in the first two minutes of the second quarter, but she seemed to disappear from the offense after that.
Of course, her vanishing act wasn’t by accident. Williams instructed Webb to stay between Johnson and the ball. That, along with help from a backside defender, seemed to take Johnson out of the equation.
— The Aggies played the game without their top scorer and best defender, eighth-grader Destinee Ealy, after she suffered a season-ending injury to her hand against Childersburg on Jan. 29.
Ealy scored a team-high 19 points in the last meeting with the Tigers, which Talladega won by two points in overtime.
— Seniors Cymarion Scales, Takerria Swain and Kiercin Davis joined Webb on the all-tournament team for Talladega.
The Aggies were represented by Smith, Johnson, senior Christina Keith and Zamar’ya Cook.
Williams on the impact Scales had since the team returned from quarantine on Monday:
“Mary had an amazing game on Tuesday (when she scored 20). So every day in practice, she has been my leader. She has been the person that ‘this is what we going to do, this is what you better do.’ She’s my locker room girl, momma coach, everything.”
Frazier on the absence of Ealy:
“Defense has never changed. When you step on the court, they know what I want from them defensively. Yes, offensively, it does change things, and we want people to step up, but on the defensive end, that doesn’t change. Everyone goes in understanding they have to play pressure defense, and it is a little struggle right now to find someone to go in and click.”
Talladega hosts Pike Road on Monday at 6:30 p.m.
The Aggies hit the road to face Brewbaker Tech in the subregional round.