Chucky Miller will lead his Talladega High School boys basketball team back to the Final Four on Wednesday night against Sylacauga at 7:30 in Legacy Arena in the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex.
It’s the Tigers’ fourth appearance under Miller after going in 2008, 2009 and 2017. Miller said being one of the last four teams in Class 5A is an accomplishment.
“We have had some good teams the last 10-15 years,” he said. “We have had some excellent teams and we had some that should have got there. I am proud of all of our teams, especially the ones (that made it to the Final 4).”
Last season, Talladega fell to Faith Academy, 53-40 in the Final Four.
Talladega (21-9) started the season by winning 11 of its first 14 games, but the team struggled in the second half of the season going 8-6. Miller said his team started playing its best basketball toward the end of the regular season and into the postseason. Talladega defeated Etowah 75-70 to win its second consecutive 5A Northeast Regional tournament championship.
“We lost a lot last year, but we had a couple of people coming back with some experience,” Miller said. “It was always a possibility, but our schedule was so tough this year. Seems like everybody brought back their whole team that was playing. It was a struggle there early in the year. We lost some close games. I believe we have played our best basketball in last three or four weeks.”
Miller believes experience will help his players prepare for what they’ll face in Wednesday’s Final Four matchup.
“You probably could take something, but every team is a little different,” he said. “They have to adjust to the big arena and they have to adjust to the all-eyes-on-you aspect. It is getting down to where it is just four teams left and everyone has to comprehend that one of those four teams is going to be a state champion.”
Miller doesn’t only have experience coaching in the state tournament; he also played in the Class 4A state tourney in his senior season at Talladega. The Tigers finished in third place.
“It is a huge accomplishment when you are playing at the end of February and at the beginning of March,” he said. “I know when I played in the state tournament in 1973; we played in the finals on March 10. It is always around the last of February and at the beginning of March. When you are playing at this time of the year you are doing something good.”
Miller said being in the Final Four as a player is something he enjoyed and will always remember. He said he wants this team to have the same experience, but at the same time, he wants them to know they are going there with intentions of advancing.
“I want the kids to enjoy the state tournament,” he said, “but understand that we have a job to do and play the best that we can.”