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By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
Owners of eight straight wins, a 10-1 record and a margin of victory of just under 37 points a game, the T.R. Miller Lady Tigers have certainly done plenty of good things.
That by itself may be enough to intimidate a lot of opponents. Yet here is a scary thought.
"We really haven't had that game yet where we have clicked on all cylinders," T.R. Miller coach Ron Jackson said.
Even without their "top" performance, the Lady Tigers still steamrolled their way into the championship game of the Pensacola Catholic Tournament Monday with a 44-15 triumph over the Pine Forest (Fla.) Lady Eagles.
T.R. Miller was able to notch the win despite the fact it went nearly six minutes at the start of the game without a field goal, shot only 35 percent from the field (17-for-48) and 36 percent from the free throw line (seven-for-19).
The reason was defense. The Lady Tigers held Pine Forest (3-7) scoreless for more than 10 minutes at the start of the game. The Lady Eagles were forced into 25 turnovers, 18 of which came in the first half. Pine Forest shot just 17 percent from the field (six-for-35).
"I think this says a lot for our defense. To shoot as poorly as we did and to win by that much, you have to play tremendous defense," Jackson said. "We just struggled to get anything going on the offensive side. We missed a lot of layups and shots from in close. We forced a lot of turnovers, but we didn't get the transition baskets we normally get."
A lone free throw by T.R. Miller's Ashley Samuel was the only point either team scored for nearly six minutes at the start of the game.
Although Pine Forest was unable to remove the lid on top of its basket, the Lady Tigers were able to break the ice on their end.
A basket by Krystle Smith, a three-point play and another field goal by Samuel and two buckets by Joy McCorvey gave T.R. Miller a 12-0 lead by the end of the quarter.
That lead eventually reached 16-0 two minutes into the second period after a steal and layup by Keonshaye Lane and an offensive rebound basket by McCorvey.
The Lady Eagles finally got on the scoreboard at the 5:30 mark in the first quarter when Yaniqua Gray hit a three-pointer.
That shot did little to stop the bleeding. Buckets by Samuel, Lane and McCorvey helped T.R. Miller extend its lead to a first half high of 23-5 en route to a 23-7 half-time bulge.
Two free throws by Demetria McIntyre in the opening minute of the second half got Pine Forest within 23-9, but that was as close as the Lady Eagles would get.
T.R. Miller hit just two third quarter field goals, a three-pointer by Samuel and a basket by Smith, but that helped extend the Lady Tigers' advantage to 31-13.
The Lady Tigers surrendered just one field goal and two total points over the final nine minutes.
McCorvey contributed three baskets and a free throw in the final frame on her way to a game high 16 points. That helped the Lady Tigers end the game on a 13-2 run, which included a 9-0 stretch over the final seven minutes.
T.R. Miller met the host school, Pensacola Catholic, in Tuesday night's championship game. Pensacola Catholic downed Pace (Fla.) 48-32 in Monday's other semifinal.
At Pensacola Catholic
T.R. Miller 12 11 8 13 – 44
Pine Forest 0 7 6 2 – 15
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) McCorvey 7-0-2-16; Samuel 4-1-3-14; Smith
3-0-0-6; Lane 2-0-2-6; Layton 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 17-1-7-44)
PINE FOREST (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Gray 1-1-0-5; McIntyre 1-0-2-4; Duvault 2-0-0-4; Perkins 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 5-1-2-15)
Saturday's game
T.R. Miller seized control in the early moments of Saturday's first-round game against Gulf Breeze (Fla.) and never let up in a 62-26 triumph over the Lady Dolphins.
The Lady Tigers, who posted their seventh straight win, opened the game with an 8-0 run thanks to a trio of buckets by Joy McCorvey and another hoop by Keonshaye Lane.
By the end of the opening frame that advantage had grown to 26-4. McCorvey added two more field goals and was halfway to her 20 points in the game. Ashley Samuel was also a big part of the early surge with a pair of three-pointers and another bucket. Samuel finished with a game high 21 points.
The real story was the T.R. Miller defense, which forced Gulf Breeze into eight turnovers and limited the Lady Dolphins to just five field goal attempts in the opening frame.
Although the Lady Tigers did not have a huge run in the second quarter like they did in the opening period, they did add to their already comfortable advantage.
Buckets by Jasmine Sanford and Samuel plus a free throw by Keonshaye Lane and Samuel in the final three minutes of the half helped T.R. Miller extend its lead to 38-14.
A basket by McCorvey three minutes into the third quarter gave T.R. Miller a 30-point bulge of 48-18. That lead reached 40 points before the quarter ended when two charity tosses by Samuel made it
60-20.
The Lady Tigers actually went the final nine minutes of play without a field goal, but much of that had to do with a running clock in the fourth quarter.
"This was probably our best game of the year so far. I was concerned coming in because we really hadn't been pushed in quite awhile and our starters hadn't gotten a lot of minutes. Gulf Breeze had a 7-3 record coming in so we knew they had a good team," T.R. Miller coach Ron Jackson said. "We did a good job of getting after them on defense and reading their passes."
At Pensacola Catholic
Gulf Breeze 4 10 6 6 – 26
T.R. Miller 26 12 22 2 – 62
GULF BREEZE (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Holloway 4-0-0-8; Vickery 3-0-0-6; Olsen 2-0-0-4; Adams 2-0-0-4; Tucker 1-0-0-2; Patterson 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 13-0-0-26)
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Samuel 4-2-7-21; McCorvey 10-0-0-20; Lane 5-0-2-12; Sanford 2-0-0-4; Smith 1-0-0-2; Clifton 1-0-0-2; Layton 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 23-2-10-62)