ALPINE — Winterboro held on late to defeat TC Central 48-44 in the championship game of the Class 1A, Area 8 tournament.
The Bulldogs (22-0) were able to snap TC Central’s streak of four area titles in a row without standout Kya Brown. The sophomore guard didn’t play in the first half, and she only was able to play sparingly in the second half.
“It is really special for us,” Winterboro head coach Marty Holland said. “TC has won the area championship for the last four years. We were without our leading scorer, she has been battling some personal issues. It was tough. Our girls were nervous, I think they were more nervous tonight than they all four times that they have played TC. I just told them to play together and do what we do.”
Brianna Jackson stepped up for the Bulldogs with Brown out of the lineup as she scored 17 points to earn the tournament’s MVP title. Holland was pleased with the way Jackson stepped up on Thursday night.
“Brianna is a senior, and she will definitely be missed next year,” Holland said. “She owned the rebounds, and she dropped 17 points. That is typical of Bri. I think people underestimate how special she is to this team. Bri is a standout player, and she can play at the next level if she wants to.”
TC Central overcame a 12-point first-half deficit to take a 40-39 lead on a Mahogani Evans layup with 3:40 left in the game.
Winterboro, however, would respond as Jada Lawler calmly knocked a 3-pointer from the left wing to give the Bulldogs a 42-40 lead.
Seventh-grader Katelyn Brown increased the Bulldogs lead to 44-40 with a layup with 1:18 left in the game.
Faith Johnson scored 19 of her 27 points in the second half for TC Central. The junior guard would hit a jumper to cut the lead down to 44-42.
Miscues hurt the Fighting Tigers late in the game. TC Central allowed Winterboro’s Amiya Garrett to get an offensive rebound with 46 seconds in the game while only behind down by two. TC Central fouled Garrett, who hit both free throws to build the Bulldogs’ lead to 46-42.
Johnson would cut the lead back down to 46-44 with a jumper with 32 seconds remaining.
Johnson gave the Fighting Tigers a chance to tie the game after making a huge defensive stop. Johnson forced a jump ball, which gave TC Central the basketball with 15 seconds remaining.
The reigning 1A-3A Talladega County Player of the Year was able to get the shot that she wanted with 11 seconds left in the game. Johnson was able to get past her defender and get off a short jumper that bounced off the front of the rim.
Winterboro’s Taikyra Mcelrath was fouled after the Johnson miss. Mcelrath sealed the win as she drained a pair of free throws to give Winterboro a 48-44 win.
For TC Central this is the second game in a row that they had to battle back from double-digit deficits against the Bulldogs. TC Central trailed 12-points in the first half before getting back in the game in the second half.
“I think it starts at the beginning we put ourselves in a bad position, and we had to fight back,” Ferguson said. “We just came up short.”
Johnson, Amiya Sillmon, and Alisha Morris were selected to the all-area team.
Winterboro was represented on the all-area team by Katelyn Brown, Lawler, Amiya Garrett and Jackson.