SYLACAUGA -- Whenever thoroughbreds race, sometimes the horse that musters a burst of stamina near the end crosses the line first.
In a battle between ranked basketball squads, Class 4A, No. 8 Talladega pushed past rival 5A, No. 4 Sylacauga with a 9-0 run to clinch a 69-62 victory at Douglass-Martin Court on Friday night.
“We got the lead, and all of a sudden, we weren’t aggressive,” Tigers head coach Chucky Miller said. “When they took the lead back, we had to get aggressive again.
“Usually, the aggressive team is going to win the ballgame. It was a great game -- back-and-forth with a lot of lead changes and highlight plays from both sides. We’re happy with the win.
“I thought my bench did good. (JaQuon) Chatman and (Nigel) Scales came in and played a great game while I was trying to get my guards some rest right there at the end of the third and the start of the fourth quarter.”
Tigers junior forward Kobe Simmons capped the run with a slam dunk at the buzzer. He turned in a 27-point, 13-rebound effort while playing the full 32 minutes.
“(Simmons) was the only one with size, and he was rebounding so well, we needed him to play big minutes if he can,” Miller said. “Also, probably why he was out there the whole game was we were in foul trouble, and I was in-and-out with some other people. He didn’t get his rotation out (of the lineup).”
Aggies senior guard Malik Powell and senior forward Caden Lunsford hit back-to-back 3s to climb ahead 62-60 with 3:06 to play. Powell finished with a team-high 17 points.
Sylacauga head coach Will Copeland called timeout prior to Talladega’s late surge.
“We didn’t make plays at the end of the game, and they did,” he said. “That’s just it. We missed shots. They made shots. We didn’t get a stop … It just came down to a couple of possessions, and we didn’t make plays on those possessions.”
Talladega led 50-48 entering the final quarter, and the teams battled neck-and-neck through the period.
Four to know
- Talladega junior guard D’Corian Wilson scored the go-ahead basket during the sprint to the finish for his final bucket of the game. He finished with 14 points.
- Aggies junior center Shannon Grant contributed 15 points and blocked a multitude of shots in the paint, but he picked up a technical foul after stuffing an attempt by Simmons to get to the basket.
- Tigers sophomore guard Aaron Green came off the bench to chip in eight points and added four steals, while senior guard JaQuon Chatman added seven points in his reserve role.
- Sylacauga’s best quarter came was the second, when the Aggies outscored Talladega 21-9 to go into the locker room up 35-27.
- Miller on Simmons playing the full game: “He’s getting better. He’s handling the ball, rebounding, getting assists and scoring when needed.”
- Copeland on learning from the loss: “It’s a good game. I told them the other day these next three games, especially that are this close together, you just find out what you’re made out of. And you’ve got to know this. You have to know what kind of team you’ve got, if they’re a strong team and how strong they are together. You find out in games like this, and we’ll definitely find out tomorrow because we’ve got to turn around and go play Sacred Heart at Sacred Heart. It’s another tough game, and we’ll see what this team is all about.”
- Copeland on the technical foul by Grant: “They made two free throws, I believe, and I don’t remember if they scored when they got the ball back. It’s not the reason we lost the game. It was just a bad play. When you’re playing a game like this, it can go either way, and you’ve got to just know that.”
- Talladega (15-5) will look to extend its winning streak to 11 against Benjamin Russell on Monday at Chuck Miller Arena at 1 p.m.
- Sylacauga (14-5) will travel to face Sacred Heart tonight at 7.