MONTGOMERY — Michael Turner said his basketball team endured a difficult schedule for 2012-2013.
“I think every team we played, outside of our normal area schedule, made it to a regional or sub-regional,” he said Saturday. “Every team made the playoffs in some stage.
“We did that on purpose. We wanted to get better to prepare us for this type of opportunity.”
The Green Wave’s 2013 postseason came to an end Saturday morning at the Dunn Oliver Acadome on the campus of Alabama State University — Leeds (21-10) fought valiantly in the finals of the 3A Central Regional, but ran out of gas late in a 54-44 loss to top-ranked Greensboro (28-2), the two-time defending state champs.
“They (Greensboro) didn’t intimidate us,” Turner said. “The difference was momentum in the second half.”
Leeds reached the final by defeating Midfield in the finals of the 3A Area 8 tournament, defeating Trinity Presbyterian 55-38 in sub-regional play and then overcoming Holt, 45-35, in the first round of regional play.
Saturday’s task was a more sizeable one in many ways. Most specifically, tournament MVP Jimmie Taylor — an Alabama signee standing 6-9 — posed a gargantuan challenge on his own, and the Raiders held a size advantage over the Green Wave at many other positions, also.
“They (Leeds) were a very scrappy bunch,” said Greensboro head coach Marty Everett. “They got out here and defended us, and they made us really work to get those defensive rebounds.”
Leeds jumped out to an early 15-10 lead in the first quarter. All-Tournament selection DeAndric Thomas, a senior, paced the Green Wave with 13 points, 10 rebounds and two steals.
“It was very physical,” Thomas said. “It felt like it was a championship game. That’s the way we looked at it.
“We fought hard. Everybody wanted the same thing.”
Greensboro slowly fought its way back into the game, and took a 24-23 lead to the locker room at halftime. The defensive intensity shifted in the second half — Greensboro limited Leeds to five field goals, and no points for the first half of the fourth quarter, as they built up a double-digit lead.
“They (Greensboro) just jumped out on us,” Thomas said. “We fought hard, but it didn’t come out in the end.”
Leeds battled back to draw to within five points with just over a minute to play, but came up empty on consecutive trips.
“We just didn’t do the things we needed to do,” Turner said. “We had an opportunity to get it to a one-possession game, and we turned the ball over twice.”
Guards Issac Vacheresse, a sophomore, and senior Michael Chatman, each scored eight points. Senior Anthony McMichael finished with seven.
“I’m proud of our kids,” Turner said. “We have five seniors, and they played exceptionally hard to make it to this point.
“They fought hard today. I’m proud of our effort.”