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Jackson's heroics can't save tigers

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
They picked the right period for their first and only lead of the game, but the T.R. Miller Tigers picked the wrong part of overtime for that lead in Friday's 54-45 loss at home to the Monroe County Tigers.
It took a dramatic effort by T.R. Miller just to get the game into overtime. The host Tigers were down six points, 41-35, with a minute to go in regulation. They were down four points, 41-37, with just seven seconds left.
Down the stretch Monroe County (10-2) left the door open for T.R. Miller (3-3) to rally at the free throw line where it missed seven charity tosses in the fourth quarter. Five of those misses came in the final minute and four came in the final 17 seconds.
Tye Walker gave T.R. Miller a slim hope with six seconds left when he was fouled. He managed to hit one of two free throws to make it a one-possession lead of 41-38.
With four ticks left, Monroe County's Antonio Odom was fouled and went to the free throw line with two attempts to put the game away.
Odom missed both shots and T.R. Miller's Chris Byrd grabbed the rebound near the basket. Byrd fired a long pass past half-court. Damien Jackson grabbed it, but the momentum of the pass forced Jackson to fall towards the bleachers as he threw up a desperation shot from about 25 feet away.
The prayer for the home team was answered, as the three-pointer dropped through the net at the buzzer to tie the game at 41-41.
In the extra session, Monroe County took a brief 42-41 lead on a free throw by Gecday Penn with just over a minute expired.
Thirty seconds later Walker got loose near the T.R. Miller basket and scored to give the host Tigers their first lead of the game at 43-42 with two minutes left.
As a whole too many mistakes doomed T.R. Miller in overtime. Walker's bucket was the only one the Tigers made out of their five attempts in overtime. They also committed four turnovers.
A key moment in overtime ocurred with 1:25 left when the T.R. Miller bench was called for a technical foul with the score tied at 43-43.
Odom hit both free throws to put Monroe County up 45-43. It was a lead the visiting Tigers would not relinquish.
While Monroe County struggled at the foul line in the fourth quarter, that was not the case in overtime. The visitors hit nine of 10 charity tosses over the final 1:25 to pull away. For the game, Monroe County had a 19-6 scoring edge at the free throw line.
"Our kids played hard and they didn't quit. Monroe County has a very good team. They will probably be in the state rankings when they come out. They work the ball very well," T.R. Miller coach Rob Atkinson said.
The Tigers were able to take Monroe County into overtime despite the fact they hit just 37 percent of their shots (18-for-48). That figure was even lower in the first half when T.R. Miller was just eight-for-24 for 33 percent.
"We just didn't shoot very well and we had too many turnovers (18). For us to be successful, that figure probably needs to be around 12 a game," Atkinson said.
Another key part of the game was T.R. Miller's inability to close out quarters on the defensive end. Monroe County scored at the buzzer in each of the first three periods.
With the score deadlocked at 14-14 in the first quarter, the visiting Tigers got a hoop from Terrell McMillian at the horn to move in front 16-14.
In the second quarter, Monroe County had a 23-21 lead in the waning moments. T.R. Miller had a chance to tie the game before half-time, but Kreij Bougard's shot was blocked. Monroe County turned it into a fastbreak and an offensive rebound bucket by McMillian as the horn sounded to make it 25-21.
As the third quarter was set to close, Odom was fouled on a dunk attempt. He hit one of two free throws that gave the visitors a 34-29 lead headed into the final period.
"Learning how to close out quarters is part of the learning process and we're a young team. Out of those three scores, the one at the end of the second quarter was really big because that was a possible four-point swing," Atkinson said.
Greg Bogan led T.R. Miller with 12 points, while Walker and Paul each had 11.
TR. Miller, which hosted Northview (Fla.) Saturday, is off until Friday when it opens up play at the Red Level Tournament. The Tigers will take on Samson in the first game of the tournament at 10:30
At T.R. Miller
Monroe Co. 16 9 9 7 13 – 54
T.R. Miller 14 7 8 12 4 – 45
MONROE COUNTY (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Odom 4-0-7-15; Penn 1-3-4-15; McMillian 6-0-0-12; Armstron 1-0-5-7; Madison 1-0-2-4; Richardson 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 13-3-19-54)
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Bogan 3-2-0-12; Paul 4-0-3-11; Walker 5-0-1-11; Bougard 3-0-0-6; D. Jackson 0-1-2-5 (Totals: 15-3-6-45)