TALLADEGA — The Talladega girls basketball team advanced to the semifinal round of the Talladega County Basketball Tournament Tuesday night with a 45-34 win over Winterboro.
The sixth-seeded Lady Tigers used early pressure to build a lead in the first half and rarely let up in the second against the third-seeded Lady Bulldogs.
The win broke a four-game slide for Talladega and pits the Lady Tigers against TC Central in the tournament semifinals tomorrow.
“I think the girls came out with great intensity,” said Talladega head coach Jannie Keith. “I think in the first quarter we did an awesome job. Then we got too relaxed with the 20-5 lead. But it was good for them to get a win. We were playing a very good team, and I’m very proud of my girls.”
Alexis Morgan led the way for Talladega with 15 points. Jamesha Chatman had 10.
Jasmine Richardson had 15 points to lead Winterboro. Tenesha Merritt and Anslea Twymon both had five points, while Tiffany Vincent had eight rebounds.
Talladega improved to 6-11 with the win, while Winterboro dropped to 13-7.
Lady Bulldogs head coach Sheroderick Smith said his team has yet to put together a complete game this season.
“I’m still trying to put my finger on why we haven’t woken up yet,” Smith said. “It’s really hard to give a reason why these girls are not playing well. From a basketball standpoint, we’re not answering the call.”
Smith said his team’s goal is to make the Final Four and win a state championship, but believes outside factors could be getting in the team’s way.
“I think the girls are getting worn down by a lot of outside comments. These girls have sweet hearts and can’t have a tough enough mentality all the time to block stuff out. These girls need support.”
The Lady Tigers got off to a quick 9-0 lead in the first quarter before Richardson broke the drought with a steal and layup.
A 3-point play from Sheleshia Truss pushed Talladega’s lead to 12-2 with 3:30 to play, and Morgan made it 14-2 moments later.
The Lady Tigers continued to press until the end of the quarter, when they had built a 20-5 lead.
Winterboro, using some full court pressure of its own, got off to a much better start in the second quarter. Baskets from Merritt and Richardson cut Talladega’s lead down to 20-11.
After gathering themselves, the Lady Tigers responded with a 12-3 run to close out the half. Shemeshia Truss weaved through the Winterboro defense for Talladega’s first bucket of the quarter with 3:30 remaining before the break. Baskets from Morgan and Chatman pushed Talladega’s lead to 30-16.
The Lady Bulldogs came out of the locker room with intensity, cutting the lead down to 30-22 with an 8-0 run.
“We want to pressure the ball four quarters,” Keith said. “The defense was there, but we had a couple turnovers at the end. We’re going to get better.”
With the game getting tighter, the Lady Tigers turned it on again. A 7-2 run to close out the quarter put Talladega up by a comfortable margin at 37-24.
Both teams struggled to find the basket in the early stages of the fourth quarter.
A free throw from Merritt cut Talladega’s lead to 41-34, but it was too little too late.
“We’ve still got to find a way to salvage the season,” Smith added.
The Lady Tigers will face TC Central tomorrow at 6 p.m.
“We’ve played them twice this year,” Keith said. “The first game was very close, we only won by two. TC isn’t seeded No. 2 for nothing. We just have to get a game plan ready.”
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