ALPINE — Winterboro used an 8-0 third quarter run to take a permanent lead over TC Central Saturday and capture the Class 1A Area 7 championship, 38-29.
Following the win, the Lady Bulldogs took turns cutting down the net in celebration of their second consecutive area championship and season sweep of their rival.
“It’s a huge accomplishment,” said Winterboro head coach Sheroderick Smith. “It makes it extremely difficult when you have to play your rival. It was a hard fought game by both teams. I wish (TC Central) the best of luck as they advance through the playoffs. It’s a great feeling. The program is really going forward.”
Winterboro now has 19 wins on the season, breaking the program record of 18 which was set last season. TC Central, which also set a school record for wins this year, dropped to 20-8.
“I want to congratulate Coach Smith and Winterboro on a good job, a good season and being area champs,” said TC Central head coach Robert Duncan. “My hat’s off to our girls, I think we did an excellent job. We’ve had a good season and we haven’t given in yet. Tonight I feel like we played a good basketball game. However, we came up short. I think this was a good life lesson for us tonight. We’re just going to keep working hard and hopefully we’ll get better.”
Tournament MVP Tenesha Merritt was a constant source of points throughout the game, finishing with 12 for the Lady Bulldogs (19-8). Nadia Estelle added 10 while Jasmine Richardson scored eight.
Zana Wallace led TC Central with seven points. Tiarrial Duncan and Shakerri Garrett both had six points.
“Our girls play with a lot of heart,” Robert Duncan said. “We don’t have somebody that fills the scoreboard up every night but they leave everything on the floor.”
The opening quarter got off to a quiet, slow start.
After three scoreless minutes, Merritt got Winterboro on the board with a layup. Duncan responded with a put-back to even the game on the following possession.
Merritt scored once more and a basket off the bench from TC Central’s Delicia Hogue closed the first quarter scoring at 4-4.
The Lady Fighting Tigers got their first lead with a jumper from Wallace early in the second quarter.
Senior Myieshia Scales hit a big 3-pointer from the corner with two minutes to play in the half, pushing TC Central’s lead to 13-9.
The Lady Fighting Tigers entered halftime up 15-11.
“We had to have a good old pep talk in the locker room,” Smith said. “I think some of the young girls were nervous. We’ve been trying to establish team ball throughout the year and they found a way.”
The 8-0 third quarter run sparked life into the Lady Bulldogs as they took a 21-17 lead.
A trey from Merritt brought the Lady Bulldogs within one point, and Richardson’s free throw following a flagrant foul tied the game at 17. Richardson then hit a 3-pointer to put the Lady Bulldogs up 20-17.
Winterboro took a 21-19 lead into the final quarter.
Merritt hit another 3-pointer with 7:32 to play, forcing a TC Central timeout.
TC Central struggled to get good looks at the basket throughout the fourth quarter.
Anslea Twymon gave Winterboro a 10-point edge with just over four minutes to play, and TC Central could not recover.
Savona Garrett and Wallace hit back-to-back 3-pointers to make things interesting in the last two minutes at 33-29, but it was too little too late.
Winterboro will host Jefferson Christian Academy in the Sub-Regionals next week, while TC Central will travel to Tuscaloosa to face Holy Spirit.
“We’ll just take it one step at a time,” Coach Duncan said. “It’s going to be a tough basketball game, but I expect my girls to come out and fight and give it their best effort. We’re going to work hard Monday just like we’re getting ready for the first game of the season.”
Read more:The Daily Home - Winterboro wins 2nd consecutive area title