There was barely a minute remaining in Central’s quarterfinal matchup against Lee-Montgomery last week, and the Red Devils were on the brink of another heartbreaking playoff loss.
After leading by as many as 10 points in the second half, Central’s lead had completely evaporated. The Generals, in fact, had just knocked down a basket to go ahead 55-53, putting the Red Devils on the brink of elimination.
As senior guard Tre Todd took the inbound pass under the opposing basket and began to dribble down the court, there was a look of determination in his eyes. He did not look left or right. Instead, his gaze remained forward at the basket. He crossed mid-court, neared the three-point arc, and took off. With one of the quicker first steps you’ll see in high school, he went to the left around one defender, crossed over back to the right around another, split two interior defenders and laid the ball in to tie the game.
The basket didn’t win the game, but it did force overtime where the Red Devils went on to win 70-61.
It was a monumental play, no doubt, for Central, but took none of Todd’s teammates nor coaches by surprise. That’s what the Red Devils’ athletic leader has done since his sophomore year. With the game on the line, he always wants the ball.
“I used to do that when I was younger,” Todd said. “I’d mess up some, but sometimes it’d pay off.”
That statement illustrates a key trait of Todd’s. He doesn’t fear failure in the game’s biggest moments. Instead, he relishes the opportunity. He wasn’t Central’s leading scorer in the quarterfinals, notching 16 points. But 15 of those came in the second half, and more than half of those came on plays that ended big runs by the Generals or, as previously illustrated, forced overtime.
Central coach Bobby Wright said that confidence and athleticism was always there for his leading scorer. Todd wasn’t a developed shooter when Wright got him on varsity, nor did he understand all the ins and outs of the game from a knowledge standpoint.
Over time, though, Wright said Todd put in all the work to improve his understanding, and it has obviously paid off.
“He fine-tuned his game, his ball handling, his shooting,” Wright said. “His speed was always there. Once he began to understand the game, that it’s all from the neck up. Once he got it, he took off.”
This year, Todd is averaging 16.1 points per game to lead the Red Devils. He has taken the bulk of the team’s field goal attempts, having shot 332 times. The next closest two, Tionne Williams and Demarkus Lampley, have just 342 attempts combined. Still, Todd has managed to shoot at nearly a 50-percent clip for the year. When Central meets Spain Park in the Class 7A semifinals on Thursday in Birmingham, Todd will once again be the focal point of the offense.
Todd said that it’s all been about keeping a steady mind, keeping his composure and executing all season.
“I’ve gotten better all around at my game,” he said. “Better as a leader.”
He said that he’s always been the type of person who goes after something with all of his heart if he wants it.
“If I want something, I’ve got to go get it,” he said. Asked how bad he wants a state championship ring, he smiled. “Real bad.”