Talladega High School’s boys basketball team put together a 9-0 run in the final 75 seconds to squeak past rival Sylacauga 69-66 at Chuck Miller Arena on Friday night.
Tigers forward Kobe Simmons scored on a 3-point play with a shot off the backboard and a free throw to kick off the run with 1:11 remaining in the fourth quarter. Simmons picked up another quick basket after guard Fred Dickerson stole the ball from the Aggies and fed him the assist.
Dickerson hit a basket to take a 67-66 lead with 22 seconds to go, and on Sylacauga’s next possession, Tigers guard Chaztin Tanner got a steal of his own and drove to the basket for the game’s final points. Sylacauga called a timeout with 11 seconds to play.
“It was a back-and-forth game,” Tigers head coach Chucky Miller said. “One team would be ahead by four, and then the other team would be ahead by four. We finally had a run. They had a run with about two minutes left, then we made our run and got back ahead … We held on. They missed a couple shots at the end, but it was a good game.”
The comeback came despite three Talladega players fouling out -- guard Ashton Duncan with 4:12 to play, forward JQ Wilson with 1:55 left and forward Tra’Shaundez Bolden with 1:21 to go.
Talladega battled back to take a 60-56 lead, but the Aggies put together a 10-0 run to jump ahead prior to the wild finish. Eight of those points came off free throws, including a technical foul on Wilson that resulted in his exit.
“We’ve been doing that a lot this season -- we get up and we go down,” Aggies head coach Will Copeland said. “Even when we go down, I told them when we were down and had to call timeout, I told them, ‘You’re going to come back.’ That’s just what we do. We get a lead, and we just struggle holding the lead … We had three straight possessions with three turnovers. We just didn’t handle the pressure and couldn’t get a stop.”
Talladega held a slim 14-13 edge after one quarter, but Sylacauga regained control before the break to go up 32-31.
The game on both sides of the floor was heavy on fouls (Talladega had 11, Sylacauga had 9), but light on successful free throws in the first half. The Tigers went 8-of-16 from the charity stripe, while the Aggies were 5-of-15.
“We did not shoot free throws well, and probably Sylacauga did not either,” Miller said. “I know that’s an area where both teams are going to have to work on that. It’s always great to beat Sylacauga in a close game on your home court. We needed that because we’ve lost three 1-point games this year, and I don’t know if we could have took one more.”
The Aggies exited the third quarter ahead of the Tigers 46-43.
Duncan led the Tigers with 19 points and added five steals, while Simmons chipped in 16 points and six rebounds. Dickerson scored 12 points, made seven steals (four in the fourth quarter) and three assists. Tanner contributed 13 points and a pair of steals.
“Everyone hit some big shots,” Miller said. “Duncan had hit some big shots, even though I know he fouled out with four or five minutes. We just pulled it out. We’ve got that never-give-up attitude, and that’s what it takes.”
Center Malik Crawford paced the Aggies with 24 points. Guard Darian Garrett finished second on the team with 10 points.