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Fast start lifts Tigers over W.S. Neal, 82-45

By By SCOTT COOPER – Sports Writer
The T.R. Miller Tigers scored the game's first eight points and never let up to earn an Area-1 victory over the W.S. Neal Blue Eagles at T.R. Miller High School on Tuesday night.
While the 82-45 win earned them their sixth consecutive victory, the Tigers improved to 15-4 on the season and ended area play at 4-0.
The loss dropped the Blue Eagles to 5-15 overall and 0-4 in the area.
Unlike the two teams' previous meeting in which the Blue Eagles matched the Tigers shot-for-shot over almost two quarters of play, the outcome of the latest contest was never in question.
Miller bolted from the starting gate operating at a high level both on the offensive and defensive ends of the court. Holding an 18-point advantage at the end of the opening period, the Tigers' lead continued to escalate as the game wore on.
The Tigers scored repeatedly off Neal turnovers in the game's opening minutes. Four points from Ryheem Drakeford along with baskets by DaWaun Johnson and Trey Paul gave Miller an 8-0 lead with 4:30 left in the first quarter. After baskets by the Blue Eagles' Nick Benjamin and Keith Woods was answered by 2-pointers from Miller's Greg Bogan and Johnson, the Tigers' lead stood at 12-4.
In the period's final two minutes, the Tigers' leading margin continued to escalate. With Neal Cheatham, Paul and Johnson leading the way, a 13-3 quarter-ending run placed Miller in a commanding position, 25-7.
The Blue Eagles settled down and gained a bit of momentum in the second stanza. With Chris Johnson's eight points pacing Neal's second-period offensive charge, the Blue Eagles played the Tigers to a virtual standstill. An 8-2 Blue Eagles' rally at the beginning of the quarter cut Miller's lead down to 27-15, but the Tigers methodically began stretching their advantage before intermission. A 13-5 Miller run over the final three minutes led to a 40-20 lead at the halftime break.
Miller's inside domination along with the Blue Eagles' turnover problems were the story of the third quarter. Following a 4-0 Neal run to start the period, the Tigers answered with a 5-2 run that made the score 45-26 midway through the quarter. Momentum continued in Miller's favor, as the Tigers never allowed the Blue Eagles an opportunity to climb back into the game. Heading into the fourth period, the Tigers held an insurmountable advantage, 62-32, and then outscored the Blue Eagles 20-13 over the final eight minutes to emerge with an impressive 37-point win.
Offensive leaders for Miller were Trey Paul, 22 points; DaWaun Johnson, 18 points; Neal Cheatham, 17 points and Ryheem Drakeford, 11 points.
Neal was led by Nick Benjamin's 11 points and Chris Johnson's eight points.