HOWELL’S COVE -- Winterboro High School’s boys basketball team overcame a slow start offensively to defeat rival and Class 1A, Area 9 tournament host Talladega County Central 63-53 in the event’s championship game Saturday night.
Bulldogs junior Cameron Pointer scored 19 of his 21 points in the second half, including back-to-back 3s late in the third stanza to give his team some separation with a 44-35 lead going into the fourth. Pointer earned tournament MVP for his performance.
“For some reason, we couldn’t get any type of offensive flow for this game,” Winterboro head coach Sheroderick Smith said. “We had a lot of standing around, and that’s not normal for us. We are confident in some of the areas of our game, and those shots were big because they weren’t falling for us in the first half. That really set the tone and the momentum.
“Honestly, both Cameron Pointer and Kameron Edwards, they both hit some clutch shots.”
Winterboro’s victory gave the team a measure of revenge after losing to TC Central at Howell’s Cove 64-60 during the regular season.
“TC Central is a difficult place to play in, and we did not take care of business in (regular-season) area (play),” Smith said. “My freshmen, sophomores and juniors need to learn from that moment we didn’t capitalize on. We didn’t even show up to play …
“To win it over here was huge ... It’s hard to play on the road. We were the third seed as well, so the 3-seed coming out on top is huge, and it’s a great win, especially against a rival school.”
The Fighting Tigers experienced their own struggles during the first half of a closely-contested battle.
“We didn’t do anything to help ourselves,” TC Central head coach Acardia Garrett said. “We played OK on offense at times. Defensively, we had a couple of breakdowns that cost us some buckets. We missed too many easy baskets and too many free throws, especially in that first half.”
TC Central entered the locker room trailing just 25-22 despite going 2 of 8 from the free-throw line over the first two quarters.
“If we make half of our free throws, we would be leading in the first half,” Garrett said. “There’s some things we’ve got to work on ... Foul trouble got us a little bit.”
TC Central forward Makhail Simmons led the Fighting Tigers with 16 points and added eight rebounds despite getting in foul trouble before halftime. His third foul of the game -- a technical foul -- came with 1:02 to play before the intermission when he dunked the ball and held on to the rim for a few seconds.
Three to know
- A trio of Bulldogs -- Edwards, Shaun Vincent and Brandon Dandridge -- joined Pointer on the all-tournament team.
- Simmons, Devin Dates and Jayden Jones represented the Fighting Tigers on the all-tournament team.
- Ragland’s Josh Phillips and Nathaniel Kelley earned spots on the all-tournament team.
- Smith on getting Simmons in foul trouble: “Makhail Simmons is a player. Our game plan was centered around him defensively. He was very unscoutable because he’s so mobile. He gets offensive buckets. He gets a good lift on his jump shots. Getting him in foul trouble was a key for us, and our plan was to attack him offensively.”
- Smith on the fan support: “I want to thank the fans for the positive support in the stands tonight. They really helped fuel us in the second half, which was great for our guys.”
- Winterboro (18-8) will host Jacksonville Christian in sub-regional action Tuesday at 7 p.m.
- TC Central (9-15) will travel to Spring Garden for sub-regional play Tuesday at 7 p.m.