HOWELL’S COVE -- Talladega County Central High School’s girls basketball team defeated Autaugaville 70-50 in a Class 1A Central sub-regional game at Clarence Marble Gymnasium on Monday night.
A strong defensive effort by the Lady Fighting Tigers lifted the team to a 20-2 lead after one quarter, and by halftime, TC Central held a 44-15 advantage.
“My hat’s off to the girls for (doing) such a wonderful job and high energy,” TC Central head coach Robert Duncan said. “We were so intense that first part of the game, I think we made a lot of mistakes just because we were over excited about this opportunity to get back to this level. I’m just so excited for the kids right now. We’re so grateful.
“This will be our fourth year in a row making it to the Sweet 16, and I don’t care what the outcome (may be), it says a lot about our program to be able to make it this far. There are many teams in the state of Alabama that wish they could still be playing basketball right now, and for us to have such a great team, and this same team going back to that same level, we’re looking forward to it.”
The Lady Eagles outscored TC Central 13-9 in the third quarter, but Autaugaville trailed the Lady Fighting Tigers 53-28 going into the final period.
Autaugaville put together a 22-point effort to close out the game, but by that point, the damage had already been done.
“Our defensive intensity was real high at the beginning of the game, but we backed off a little bit,” Duncan said. “I think we got a little bit sloppy late, but overall, I’m well-pleased with our girls.”
Eighth-grade guard Elisa Golson scored 13 of her game-high 22 points for the Lady Eagles during the stretch. Junior forward Jasmine Ross chipped in 17 points.
A pair of freshmen, forward Alisha Morris and shooting guard Anysiah Taylor, paced TC Central with 12 points apiece, while eighth-grade point guard Faith Johnson added 11.
“That’s part of that young core that we have,” Duncan said. “Johnson, she brings it every night. Even when she has off nights shooting, she still gets transition baskets. Morris and Taylor just bring the energy every night. They’re growing into fabulous basketball players. I like the way they are maturing in the game.”
Center Marlonda Pemberton, one of two senior Lady Fighting Tigers, finished with 10 points.
“We’re excited,” she said. “I think we’re more prepared (for the Sweet 16) this year, and I just hope we get there, make a bigger impact and go further.”
TC Central will move on to the Sweet 16 at the Dunn-Oliver Acadome in Montgomery on Thursday to face Loachapoka, which defeated Sumiton Christian 53-24 on Monday night. The time for Thursday’s game has not yet been announced.
“It’s a great day to be a TC Tiger,” Duncan said. “I told the girls we all still have a bad taste in our mouths from a year ago. We felt like we didn’t leave a good impression on the state of Alabama last year at the Acadome (where the Lady Fighting Tigers fell to Westminster Oak Mountain 49-16).
“But we’re a good enough basketball team, and God granted us good health (so) that we’ll have a chance to leave a lasting impression. We feel like we’re a lot better team than we showed last year, and our girls have worked hard this year to get back and put themselves in position to compete at that same level this year.”