ALPINE — Winterboro is one of a handful of schools that will be represented by both its boys and girls basketball teams in this week’s Sub-Regional Tournaments.
What makes Winterboro stand out is that both teams are led by the same head coach.
Sheroderick Smith has his girls back in the playoffs for the second straight season and the boys are celebrating their first berth since 2003.
“It’s really an honor and a blessing to have two teams in the playoffs,” Smith said at Tuesday’s practice. “It’s an exciting time in basketball. I like our chances on both sides.”
Smith said he has been averaging just four hours of sleep in preparation for the postseason.
“I’ll get my 8 or 10 hours of sleep when our last game is over with,” he said. “We’re trying to get to the Final Four — boys and girls. Nothing else matters. These are two separate programs under one roof trying to achieve one goal.”
The girls’ team (19-8) broke last year’s wins record with Saturday’s area championship victory over Talladega County Central. The Lady Bulldogs will host Jefferson Christian (16-5) on Thursday.
Senior Jamie Duncan said the girls are motivated and determined to do better than last year’s Regional exit.
“We want to excel in every aspect we can and just get better as a team,” she said. “It’s getting down to the nitty-gritty now and everybody’s good. We’re mostly focused on ourselves and getting the win we need to push forward. We want to go above and beyond Montgomery. All we have is tunnel vision right now.”
Duncan said Smith has done a good job integrating both teams into a family atmosphere. The teams practiced together twice this year.
“When we practice with the boys team it’s so much fun,” she said. “We all go 100 percent. Our coach does a good job making sure he works with the girls and the boys. He gives both of us equal time and focuses on both teams. We don’t feel left out. It feels great to know I have a wonderful team, a great coach and a great support system with the boys.”
Justin Garrett, the starting point guard for the Bulldogs, echoed Duncan’s views.
“We feel good about (the girls),” he said. “Last year they were in a winning situation and we were supporting them. This year we’re both in a winning situation so we support each other. It’s a family concept.”
Both teams took part in celebrating the Lady Bulldogs’ area championship Saturday. Tenesha Merritt asked Smith for some scissors and Josh Taylor brought over a ladder so the girls could take turns cutting down the net.
“Cutting down the nets meant a lot to us,” Duncan said. “This is our house and we protect it. Nobody’s going to cut down our nets. It was good, but we want more than that. We want the title.”
The boys (10-15) are the area runners-up after falling to TC Central Monday, and will have to travel to Parkway Christian (15-15) Friday.
“I’m just enjoying the moment,” Garrett said. “We played them this summer and lost to them by one. We’re just trying to stay focused and see if we can pull off an upset up there.”
Garrett has taken the fault for Monday’s 86-53 area championship loss to TC Central, and says he is looking forward to watching film and playing hard this week.
“I didn’t run the team right,” he said. “I had turnovers, missed free throws and made bad decisions. I feel like it’s all on me. I’m just trying to help my team to victory. We’re hungry. That’s all there is to it.”
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