Tigers hold off Clarke County for 74-67 win
By By SCOTT COOPER – Sports Writer
In a Jan. 7 Area 1 matchup with the Clarke County Bullldogs, the T.R. Miller Tigers built a sizable second-half lead before the Bulldogs' final-quarter rally threatened to spoil Miller's evening. However, the Tigers were able to do what was necessary to secure a 74-67 win that improved their season record to 10-4 and placed them at 1-0 in the area.
Miller came onto the floor to start the contest with the type defensive intensity that dictated what the Bulldog offense was able to do. Running the floor with every opportunity, the Tigers quickly asserted themselves by building a substantial first-quarter lead.
DaWaun Johnson got the offense going with a jump shot for a quick 2-0 Miller lead. After Clarke County tied the game at 2-2, Neal Cheatham's 3-point play along with Johnson's 3-point jumper allowed the Tigers to hold an 8-2 advantage with just over two minutes expired in the period.
Consecutive dunks by Cheatham along with baskets by Johnson and Ryheem Drakeford kept the momentum in Miller's favor and led to a 21-12 lead at the end of the opening period.
The Tigers offense continued to click at the beginning of the second quarter. With a 10-0 run, Miller led 31-12 before the Bulldogs scored the next four points to cut the lead down to 31-16. After a 3-pointer from Greg Bogan made the score 37-20 with 4:17 to go in the half, the Bulldogs came back with the game's next six points that reduced Miller's halftime advantage to 37-26.
In the first three minutes of the third quarter, the Tigers outscored Clarke County 10-3 to open a 47-29 lead. But, the Bulldogs fought back to win the remainder of the quarter by a 12-7 margin that reduced Miller's advantage to 54-41 entering the final stanza.
The Bulldogs staged a fourth-quarter comeback that made things too close for comfort. With strong play underneath the boards coupled with 3-point bombs that began finding the bottom of the net, Clarke County cut the Miller lead to three, 66-63, with just under two minutes remaining in the game.
Trey Paul's 3-point play on a layup and foul shot gave the Tigers some breathing room at 69-63 before a Bulldog basket cut the margin to four, 69-65, with 1:30 to go.
With the game on the line, Miller's defense rose to the occasion and thwarted the Bulldogs' efforts to overtake the lead. While the Tigers' defensive performance would not allow Clarke County to pull any closer, Paul and Drakeford combined for five points from the free throw line to put the wraps on a seven-point Miller victory.
DaWaun Johnson led the Tigers with 19 points. Others scoring in double figures were Neal Cheatham, 15 points; Greg Bogan, 15 points; Ryheem Drakeford, 12 points and Trey Paul, 11 points.