Talladega County Central High School’s girls basketball team will get its fourth try in four seasons to make it to the Elite Eight in Class 1A basketball.
To get there, the Lady Fighting Tigers must first get past Loachapoka in a 1A Central Regional tournament showdown at the Dunn-Oliver Acadome in Montgomery today. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.
“The stage is big, but I think by being able to make it to regionals -- this is our fourth consecutive year making it to regionals -- our younger girls have gotten a taste of it,” TC Central head coach Robert Duncan said. “I think they’re hungry and eager, but differences with the length of the court, the size of the gymnasium and all of that plays a part. We’ve been doing little things trying to work and prepare ourselves better this year than we have in years’ past just to give us a better chance to win.”
Duncan said Loachapoka will be a formidable opponent.
“They’re very athletic,” he said. “They’re a team that’s similar to ours. They depend on transition baskets … to help them get into an offensive flow. They’re here year-in and year-out, and we look forward to the challenge of taking them on. I feel like our girls our up to the challenge.”
While the Lady Fighting Tigers aren’t a senior-heavy bunch, Duncan said his team has the balance to make up for numbers.
“We have two great young ladies for senior leaders (Marlonda Pemberton and Deja Gover),” Duncan said Wednesday. “We have three juniors (Davionna Stockdale, Jamiyah Garrett and Janyia Wallace) that are great basketball players … We dress two sophomores (Devona Gover and Ja’Miya Whitson), two freshman (Alisha Morris and Anysiah Taylor) and three eighth-graders (Faith Johnson, Tamiya Curry and Amiya Sillmon), but have an overall balance. We don’t depend on one or two people. It’s an overall team effort, and I think that’s something that’s going to be an asset for us down the road, even in tomorrow’s game against Loachapoka.”
The elder Gover said playing the Lady Indians is a great opportunity.
“I think we’re blessed as a team to be given another opportunity to go back down to (Alabama State University) and redeem ourselves,” she said. “We worked our butts off over the summer and we worked our butts off over the season to get to where we are. We didn’t practice and do all this hard work to come in second place, so I think it’s going to be great.”
The Lady Fighting Tigers may have a chance to completely earn redemption against Westminster-Oak Mountain if both teams can advance to the Elite Eight. The Lady Knights knocked off TC Central 49-16 in last season’s Sweet 16.
“We’re definitely not looking ahead, especially when you have an opponent such as Loachapoka in front of you,” Duncan said. “But we definitely know, in this region, we’ll have to go through Westminster. They’re a good basketball team. We were fortunate enough to play them during the summer, and I know it was just a summer play date, but we were able to come out on the winning end … I think that does help our confidence going down the road, but first things first. Let us get past this hurdle in the first round of regionals against the Loachapoka Indians.”