Anniston’s coach got a 72-32 victory Thursday at home, but the nearly 45-minute locker-room chat afterward indicated he wanted to see more.
“We’re trying to focus on getting better,” Bullock said about his third-ranked Bulldogs. “A lot of people look at the score, but I look at whether or not we do or assignments and we execute like we’re supposed to.
“… There were times we gave up too many second shots, and a lot of times we didn’t switch out on picks like we should have, and boxing out.”
Thanks to Tiakeffah Huguley’s 36 points Thursday — 29 in the first half — and a potent press, Anniston (28-1) still has a reason and plenty of time to practice and get better.
The Bulldogs open Northeast Regional play against Springville on Feb. 24 at 3:20 p.m. in Jacksonville State’s Pete Matthews Coliseum. Springville beat DAR 57-54 on Thursday.
The other Class 4A Northeast Regional girls semifinal pits Jacksonville and Oneonta at 12:20 p.m. the same day.
The winners will play Feb. 25 at 12:20 p.m. for the chance to advance to the Final 48 in Birmingham.
Anniston advanced Thursday by taking advantage of an undermanned Munford team. The Lions lost their top player, senior Briana Kidd, to a knee injury in the season’s fourth game.
Munford also came in with a young backcourt, and it showed quickly. Anniston forced eight turnovers in the first quarter and built a 25-5 lead by quarter’s end.
The Lions finished with 10 first-half turnovers, and Anniston led 47-13 at the break.
“We’ve got ninth and 10th graders, and they’ve gotten so much better,” Munford coach Anne Hopkins said. “We’re really looking forward to the future, but that kind of pressure is really tough.
“You can’t simulate it. You don’t see teams like that every night.”
While Anniston was turning Munford over, Huguley was turning opportunities into points. She scored 17 in the first quarter, scoring in every way possible.
She hit four of her five 3-pointers in the first half.
“She hit every contested shot,” Hopkins said. “You can’t do much more than put a hand in somebody’s face, and she’s a great player.”
Anniston also got 18 points from sophomore post player Quanetria Bolton, the only other Bulldog in double figures.
TaShayla Turner led Munford with 10 points, and the Lions finished 16-12.
“We had a key injury at the beginning of the year, but people filled in,” Hopkins said. “All of our seniors, we admire them for their leadership, and the younger people that stepped up.”
For Anniston, the challenge becomes stepping up to regional play.
The Bulldogs haven’t played Oneonta or Springville this season, but they won three of four games against Jacksonville. That includes a 74-72 victory in the finals of the area tournament.
Anniston also beat Jacksonville 67-46 in the finals of the Calhoun County Tournament at Pete Matthews Coliseum.
“There are no more easy games after tonight,” Bullock said. “You come out and you’re not ready to play, you get beat.”
Said Huguley, “I feel pretty good. I’m confident about my team. I know we can do it if we put our minds to it.”
Joe Medley is The Star’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 256-235-3576 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @jmedley_star.