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Shorthanded Tigers down EC in opener

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
Ask people what they consider their lucky number to be and the majority will probably answer seven.
Seven proved to be the lucky number for the T.R. Miller Tigers basketball team, as they opened up their season with a 49-43 win over the Escambia County Blue Devils at Brewton Tuesday.
With several members of the squad still involved with football, T.R. Miller was able to dress only seven players.
"It's a great win to beat a Class 5A school and it's a great win because of the circumstances," T.R. Miller coach Rob Atkinson said. "Because we only had seven players, we knew we had to slow down the tempo of the game. Our players did a good job of staying out of foul trouble. That allowed us to continue to rotate players in and out on a regular basis."
The Tigers coach said there was another huge key to his team's win.
"Our defense was outstanding," Atkinson said.
Another factor to T.R. Miller's success was the play of 6-0 senior Greg Bogan. Bogan erupted for 16 second half points on his way to a game high 21.
"We struggled a little bit on the offensive side in the first half, but Greg really gave us a spark in the second half and especially the third quarter," Atkinson said.
The Tigers never trailed in the game although the teams were deadlocked on five occasions, four of which came in the first half.
T.R. Miller established its defensive intensity right off the bat when it held the Blue Devils to just one field goal and one free throw until the final 15 seconds of the opening peirod.
During that time the Tigers opened up a 7-3 lead thanks to a three-pointer and a baseline jumper by Bogan and another hoop by Kreij Bougard.
Jeremy McCants gave Escambia County its first bucket in more than seven minutes in the waning momnets of the period, but a hoop by T.R. Miller's Wade Jackson quickly offset that and kept the Tigers' advantage at four points, 9-5, through one quarter.
The Blue Devils pulled even on three occasions in the second period, the last of which came when a field goal by McCants tied the game at 14-14 halfway through the period.
Bougard put the Tigers back on top with a free throw. However, it was his rare four-point play (a three-pointer plus a free throw) that gave T.R. Miller its biggest lead of the first half at 19-14.
While T.R. Miller had a 19-16 half-time lead, its cushion could have been considerably bigger. The Tigers were just two-for-11 from the free throw line in the first half and only 13-for-28 for the game.
Escambia County forced its last deadlock two minutes into the third quarter when a three-pointer by Lorenzo Arnold tied the game at 23-23.
Bogan made sure that tie did not last long with back-to-back three-pointers to put the Tigers ahead for good. Bogan added a third trey with a minute left in the period and with two seconds to go he was fouled on another three-point attempt. The 6-0 senior calmly sank all three free throws to put T.R. Miller up 38-29.
Bogan added a couple more big hoops in the fourth quarter. The second, which came on a drive to the bucket, extended T.R. Miller's lead to a game high 11-point margin of 45-34.
While the Tigers struggled as a whole from the free throw line, they did hit 11 of their final 16 attempts. Bougard hit four charity tosses in the final frame, while Trey Paul had three to help secure the win.
The Tigers will host Red Level Tuesday.
At T.R. Miller
Escambia Co. 5 11 13 14 – 43
T.R. Miller 9 10 19 11 – 49
ESCAMBIA COUNTY (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Arnold 3-1-6-15; McCants 2-1-0-7; Martin 3-0-0-6; Boykin 2-0-0-4; P. Sharp 1-0-1-3; Wiggins 1-0-0-2; Staples 1-0-0-2; Knight 1-0-0-2; L. Sharp 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 15-2-7-43)
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Bogan 3-4-3-21; Bougard 2-1-6-13; Paul 2-0-3-7; Jackson 1-1-0-5; Bird 1-0-1-3 (Totals: 9-6-13-49)