Sylacauga High School’s boys basketball team cruised to an 87-40 victory over B.B. Comer in a Talladega County Tournament quarterfinal Wednesday at Chuck Miller Arena.
Aggies head coach Will Copeland elected to begin the game with his starters on the bench for the opening quarter a night after battling Class 5A, Area 8 foe Briarwood Christian in a 59-57 win that required all hands on deck.
“We had a tough game last night,” Copeland said. “We were tired. We got in bed late and got in late. I didn’t know how we would do, but we did a good job after the first quarter. We came out and started mixing guys together and giving everybody a chance to get in there and get minutes. It was good after a tough game last night.”
Sylacauga’s bench held its own against a Tigers team that delivered a strong performance early and trailed the Aggies 20-17 after the opening quarter.
“The first quarter was great,” Tigers coach Eddie Daniel said. “It was amazing. We passed the ball, we took good shots and we were in the right position on defense. I’m really proud of them. Then we let up a little bit, and Sylacauga turned it up a couple notches. Their size, speed and depth just took over.”
Several starters emerged from the bench and led the Aggies on a 17-4 run that Daniel attempted to slow down twice by burning timeouts. The second timeout came with 2:42 remaining in the half after a one-handed dunk by Sylacauga’s Malik Crawford, who finished with eight points.
“The guys who normally start played a lot of minutes last night,” Copeland said. “We wanted to get those guys some minutes that didn’t get many last night and get them some playing time because those kids can still play. It’s tough to get all 13 kids in a game every night, and this was just a game that was good for us so we could get some guys some minutes and (let them) show us what they could do.
“We just played a lot of combinations … It was a chance to get them some minutes and get them up and down the floor. It could be a long week for us. We might have three more games this week, so it was good to get those guys in.”
Sylacauga led 48-23 at halftime.
Perhaps the biggest star among the Aggies’ bench players on the night was Luke Tankersley, who hit four of his six 3s in the second half. Tankersley led Sylacauga with 20 points, a single-game high for the senior.
“Luke’s a very good shooter,” Copeland said. “ I need to get Luke in there more because he can shoot it, but the good thing about Luke is he’s kept a good attitude. He’s a team-first kid. He’s a great kid to be around. He’s on that bench cheering, and if he gets his number called, he goes in and he plays. He’s a great kid, and we’re just so fortunate to have him in our basketball program.”
The Aggies held the Tigers to six points in the third period and remained ahead 67-29 going into the final eight minutes.
Shannon Grant, the Aggies’ 6-foot-7 sophomore, chipped in 12 points, while Tommy Gaddis added 11. Caden Lunsford rounded out the Aggies in double figures with 10.
Sylacauga will play Childersburg in a tournament semifinal Friday at Sylacauga. The winner will face Talladega in the tournament championship Saturday. Both the semifinal and championship game are set for 7:30 p.m.
“Childersburg’s always a big rivalry game ...,” Copeland said. “It’s always tough playing Childersburg. It was close the first game, and it’s close almost every time we play.”