Tigers enter holidays still above .500 mark
By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
Over the course of the season there will be many key moments for the T.R. Miller Tigers. One early turning point was probably Saturday's 58-29 home court victory over the Northview (Fla.) Chiefs.
"Winning this game keeps us above .500 going into the holiday tournaments. If we had lost, we would have dropped below .500," T.R. Miller coach Rob Atkinson said.
Although Northview came into Saturday's game with just one win to its credit, Tigers coach Rob Atkinson said he had plenty of concerns.
"One of my biggest concerns was how well we would respond after Friday's overtime loss to Monroe County. It was disappointing to play as well as we did and lose," Atkinson said. "Ironically we didn't play nearly as well against Northview and won."
Perhaps there was some hangover from Friday's game for T.R. Miller (4-3), at least early on. The Tigers came out ice cold for Saturday's game, as they missed 16 of 19 shots in the first quarter. Northview also had a 10-7 advantage on the boards.
For the most part, the first quarter was a one-on-one battle between T.R. Miller's Greg Bogan and Northview's Wesley Moughen. Bogan was the only Tiger to score in the opening frame with a pair of three-pointers and another bucket from just inside the arc. The second of Bogan's treys five minutes into the game gave T.R. Miller an 8-6 lead.
Meanwhile Moughen matched Bogan's eight first quarter points with eight of his own via four field goals from inside. The last of Moughen's hoops gave Northview a 10-8 lead late in the quarter. That lead was extended to 12-8 by the time the frame ended.
Another basket by Moughen a minute into the second quarter still had the Chiefs up four points, 14-10, when the complexion of the game changed.
Over the next four minutes the T.R. Miller defense not only kept Northview scoreless, but its offense strung together a 16-0 run to put the Tigers up 26-14.
Again it was Bogan who carried T.R. Miller throughout most of that stretch with a three-pointer from the corner, a jumper from the wing and another bucket from inside. Bogan, who had a game high 20 points, had 16 of those in the first half. The Tigers also got a key bucket and two free throws by Kreij Bougard and a three-pointer by Damien Jackson.
Moughen, who had 18 of Northview's 29 points for the game, did what he could to keep the Chiefs within striking distance. Moughen added another bucket and two free throws that trimmed the Tigers' cushion to 26-18, but T.R. Miller closed out the first half on a 9-0 run that swelled its advantage to 35-18.
Bougard sparked the late first half run with a pair of shots from just inside three-point land, while Bogan and Tye Walker added field goals.
The Tigers' run actually reached 11-0 after Trey Paul connected from inside to start the second half scoring. Two free throws by Paul later in the quarter knocked T.R. Miller's lead to and past 20 points for the first time in the game at 44-23.
That advantage grew some more before the quarter closed, as a baseline jumper by Bogan and a free throw by Laine Lucas increased the gap to 47-23.
T.R. Miller's bench play in the fourth quarter made sure the Tigers would double Northview's output for the game, as Rodney Lane and Skylar Fountain contributed hoops and Chris Bird added a pair of free throws.
The real story though was the Tigers defense, which forced Northview into 18 turnovers. The Chiefs also missed 19 of their last 24 shots for the game.
"Our defense is usually going to keep us in the game. We've kept all our opponents in the 50s and under in all but two games (Flomaton and the second game against Escambia County). That is the way this team is going to have to play in order to have a chance to win," Atkinson said.
The Tigers will open up play at the Red Level Tournament Friday when they take on Samson in the opening round at 10:30 a.m.
"Samson only has a couple of losses so that will be a good test for us. Then if we win that, we could see Florala in the second round and they've got a very good Class 1A team. We'll have to play some pretty good ball," Atkinson said.
At T.R. Miller
Northview 12 6 5 6 – 29
T.R. Miller 8 27 12 11 – 58
NORTHVIEW (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Moughen 8-0-2-18; Brown 1-1-0-5; Allen 2-0-0-4; Scott 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 12-1-2-29)
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Bogan 4-4-0-20; Bougard 3-0-3-9; D. Jackson 3-1-0-9; Paul 2-0-3-7; Lane 2-0-0-4; Walker 1-0-1-3; Bird 0-0-2-2; Lucas 1-0-0-2; Fountain 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 17-5-9-58)