On a night when the Sylacauga boys didn’t play their best basketball, the defending state champs still did enough at clutch time to keep their season alive.
Senior center Shannon Grant scored a team-high 14 points, and the Aggies overcame a fourth-quarter deficit to edge Woodlawn 54-49 in a Class 5A sub-regional game at Douglass-Martin Court.
With the win, Sylacauga (23-7) advanced to face Charles Henderson in a Southeast Regional semifinal Saturday morning at 10:30 at Garrett Coliseum in Montgomery. Charles Henderson beat Tallassee 44-38 in another sub-regional.
Sylacauga trailed 42-39 entering the final stanza.
“They persevered,” Aggies head coach Will Copeland said of his squad. “Things didn’t go our way. Woodlawn is a very good defensive team. They did a very good job of guarding us. We didn’t do a good job.
“We kind of played too much one-on-one and took some bad shots. But, our kids made shots down the stretch … and made plays at the end of the game. That’s what I’m proud of them for. (Assistant) Coach (Joel) Jones, shout out to him, and (Assistant) Coach (Chris) Smith, they did a great job prepping the guys for this game.”
Copeland said the key to the fourth-quarter rally was finding ways to score inside and out and finding some success defensively.
“We made some 3s, and Shannon Grant was scoring inside for us, which was really big,” Copeland said. “We got some stops on the other end.”
Sylacauga trailed 20-16 after a quarter but enjoyed a 30-28 lead at halftime.
The Aggies played with starting forward Desmon Jones, who was out with a sprained ankle.
Sylacauga is headed back to regional despite losing eight seniors off last winter’s state championship squad.
Copeland said the Aggies had a few players who were on the floor when Sylacauga won the 5A title last year on the floor Tuesday night, and their experience probably helped.
But even more important, he said, was the schedule his team has played and the effort his squad has put in all the way back to last summer.
“We play good teams during the regular season,” he said. “We went 2-14 last summer. Summer doesn’t count, but we played a really tough schedule. It prepares you over the course of the season. This a culmination of all that work they have put in.”
Copeland said returning to regionals was “satisfying, but you’re not satisfied. We accomplished, but we’re not finished. Now is not the time for reflection. It’s time to go back to work tomorrow.”
TALLADEGA 63, JACKSONVILLE 60
At Jacksonville, the Tigers defeated the Golden Eagles in the Class 4A Northeast Sub-regional on Tuesday night. The Tigers advance to the 4A, Northeast Regional tournament at Pete Mathews Coliseum on the campus of Jacksonville State University. Talladega will play DAR in the Sweet 16 on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.
Talladega led by as many as eight points in the fourth, but the Golden Eagles were able to cut the lead to 61-60 with under a minute left in the game.
Kobe Simmons’s tip-in gave Talladega a 63-60 lead.
D’Corian Wilson led the way 19 points and nine rebounds. Aaron Green added a big 15 points, six steals, four assists,and three blocked shots.
JQ Wilson and Simmons both finished in double figures with 10 points. JQ Wilson added four steals and Simmons pulled down six rebounds.
BRIARWOOD CHRISTIAN 59, SYLACAUGA 23
At Sylacauga, the Lady Aggies team fell to Lady Lions on Monday night in the Class 5A Southeast Sub-regional.
A slow start proved to be costly for the young Lady Aggies. Sylacauga opened the game by missing its first 10 field goal attempts. They also committed 19 turnovers in the first half.
Aurielle Turner led the way for Sylacauga with 17 points.
The Lady Aggies finished the season with a 6-21 record. Sylacauga defeated Munford 42-40 in the Class 5A, Area 7 tournament championship.
The future has the potential to be a bright for the Lady Aggies. Derrick Crawford said he has his entire team returning from this season, which includes LaQuinya Gomez, who missed most of the season with a torn ACL.