It’s time to pack up the video games, turn off the television and its zillion channels and check out of the hotel. For the Tanner boys basketball team, the weeklong visit to Birmingham concludes today.
The one question that remains is if a new trophy in their luggage will be blue or red.
The top-ranked Rattlers (29-4) play LaFayette (21-11) for the Class 2A state championship. Tipoff at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex Arena is at 11 a.m.
“We’ve had fun here this week, but there’s still work to do,” said Tanner senior forward Fred Rich. “We’ve got a job to do, and we want to win it for the entire community.”
Rich said he likes his team’s chances. The Rattlers have six seniors and plenty of talent on their deep roster.
“I’m not underestimating LaFayette or anybody we have played, but I think we match up with LaFayette pretty good. I think we have a good shot at winning the title tomorrow.”
Rich said coach Chris Whitt has sent the message: “Keep things simple and play our game.”
When asked about the Northeast Region champion Bulldogs’ 37-35 win over Elba in the state semifinals, Whitt said Elba slowed the game down to control the pace. The Tigers led 20-12 at halftime before LaFayette dominated the fourth quarter 16-6 to advance to the finals.
Bulldogs 6-foot-5 senior forward Raquazious Boyd led the rally with a dozen points and seven rebounds.
Whitt is not overly concerned about Boyd. “When you get this far in the playoffs, everyone’s good,” he said. “We’re expecting them to pressure the ball. If we play our game, go after the rebounds and limit our turnovers, I like our chances.”
Whitt calls this year’s team in the top 5 of those he’s coached at Tanner.
Whitt, who has more than 450 wins, added a win today will mean more than his milestone coaching marks.
“I want the win for them,” he said. “I don’t want the seniors to go out without the state crown. These kids play year round, all summer long, to get where they are today. It’s about the players.”
Michael Wetzel can be contacted at 256-340-2462 or email@example.com.
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