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Tigers fall in Red Level consolation championship game

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
To error is human, but to error too often in the game of basketball is fatal.
Too many mistakes and mistakes at the wrong times proved to be a bad comination for the T.R. Miller Tigers, as they dropped a 66-63 decision to the Luverne Tigers in Monday's consolation championship game of the Red Level Tournament.
The Tigers can look back at several things that probably would have changed the outcome of Monday's game. For starters, T.R. Miller (5-5) committed 27 turnovers.
"We just made too many mistakes. If we can eliminate the careless mistakes, we'll be just fine," T.R. Miller coach Rob Atkinson said.
For the second straight game, T.R. Miller spotted an opponent an 8-0 lead in the first two minutes. While the Tigers came back Monday to grab the lead as they did in Saturday's win over Florala, it made for an uphill battle the entire game.
The key stretch was probably the final minute of the first half. T.R. Miller had used a 31-13 run to take a 10-point lead. By the time half-time arrived, that lead had dwindled to only three.
"We rushed some things and had a couple of big turnovers. We probably should have been up about 12 at half-time. Instead it was only three. That was a key part of the game," Atkinson said.
Probably the biggest play of the second half came with 3:29 left and T.R. Miller up 54-53. Luverne's Pat Parks went to the free throw line for a front end of a one-and-one.
Parks missed the front end, but got a second chance when T.R. Miller was whistled for a lane violation.
Parks hit the front end of the one-and-one this time to tie the game at 54-54. He missed his second attempt, but Luverne's Fred Hawkins grabbed the offensive rebound and scored to put his team up 56-54.
"That was another big moment in the game where we didn't execute," Atkinson said.
Despite its mistakes, T.R. Miller still had its chances to pull the game out down the stretch.
Two free throws by Greg Bogan tied the game at 56-56 with 3:05 left. Another bucket by Bogan with 2:34 left forced another deadlock at 58-58.
Over the next 90 seconds Luverne got single free throws from Gary Franklin and Jesse Dixon to take the lead for good. Two more charity tosses courtesy of Parks with a minute left made it a two-possession lead at 62-58.
On two occasions in the final minute T.R. Miller made it a one-possession game. A steal and basket by Damien Jackson brought the Tigers within 62-60 with 44 ticks left.
After two free throws by Jesse Dixon bumped Luverne's lead to 64-60, Bogan bounced in a three-pointer from the wing that trimmed Luverne's lead to a single point at 64-63 with 12 seconds left.
That gave T.R. Miller a chance to force overtime even after Luverne's Deguaris Reed hit two free throws to make it 66-63 with eight seconds left.
What chance T.R. Miller had to tie the game disappeared when Bogan tried to get a three-point shot off, bobbled the ball, and came back down with it for a travelling violation.
Luverne (7-3) won the game despite the fact it committed 29 turnovers, 19 of which came in the first half. Of course, that was virtually offset by T.R. Miller's 27 giveaways.
T.R. Miller opened up play in its own invitational tournament Tuesday with a game against Northview (Fla.). If the Tigers won Tuesday, they will play Friday at 7:30 p.m. If the Tigers lost Tuesday, they will play Friday at 4:30 p.m.
At Red Level
Luverne 10 18 15 23 – 66
T.R. Miller 13 18 16 16 – 63
LUVERNE (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Hawkins 8-0-2-18; Parks 4-0-3-11; Burnett 4-0-1-9; Franklin 1-1-2-7; Hayes 3-0-1-7; Reed 0-1-2-5; Phiffer 1-0-2-4; Dixon 0-0-3-3; McCreary 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 22-2-16-66)
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Bogan 3-4-3-21; D. Jackson 7-0-0-14; Bougard 3-0-5-11; Walker 3-0-1-7; Paul 2-0-0-4; Lucas 1-0-1-3; W. Jackson 0-1-0-3 (Totals: 19-5-10-63)
Saturday's game
T.R. Miller earned a berth in the consolation championship game Saturday when it knocked off the Florala Wildcats 48-34.
The game began on an inauspicious note for T.R. Miller. A pair of three-pointers by Danny Wilson and a field goal by A.J. Thompson had Florala up 8-0 before the game was two minutes old.
That turned out to be about the only lapse in the game for the Tigers' defense. Over the final 30 minutes the Wildcats hit only 11 of 39 shots (28 percent), committed 23 turnovers and scored only 26 points.
"I think the biggest key for us was we just got after it a lot harder on defense," T.R. Miller coach Rob Atkinson said. "We played with a lot more fire and intensity than we did in the opening round against Samson."
Meanwhile the Tigers got
See TIGERS Page 7
going on offense, as a pair of buckets and two free throws by Tye Walker and two more field goals by Laine Lucas sparked T.R. Miller into a 15-12 lead by the end of the quarter.
Just when it seemed the Tigers were headed in the right direction, they missed nine of their first 10 shots from the field in the second quarter.
Florala took advantage and moved back in front late in the first half when a pair of baskets by Xavier Jones gave the Wildcats a 22-19 lead. A hoop just before the half-time buzzer by Greg Bogan got T.R. Miller within 22-21 at the midway point.
The Tigers continued to struggle from the field in the third quarter, as they hit only three of 14 shots. Thanks to their defense, that was still good enough to put T.R. Miller back in front.
A three-point play by Lucas halfway through the quarter gave the Tigers a 26-24 lead. With the score deadlocked, Bogan hit a three-pointer late in the frame that gave T.R. Miller a 31-28 lead headed into the final period.
In the fourth quarter, T.R. Miller's defense forced the Wildcats into 10 of their 23 turnovers. T.R. Miller began the fourth quarter with a field goal and free throw by Chris Byrd, a free throw by Lucas and a steal and layup by Bogan. Bogan's hoop gave T.R. Miller a 37-28 lead with six minutes left.
Two free throws by Bogan with five minutes left bumped the Tigers' lead into double digits at 41-30. Bogan also had a key three-point play with three minutes left that helped seal the win.
Free throws were also a key down the stretch and for the game. T.R. Miller hit eight of 13 charty tosses in the fourth quarter. The Tigers outscored Florala 16-0 from the free throw line for the game.
Saturday's game
Florala 12 10 6 6 – 34
T.R. Miller 15 6 10 17 – 48
FLORALA (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Gettis 4-0-0-8; Thompson 4-0-0-8; Wilson 0-2-0-6; Jones 3-0-0-6; Matthews 1-0-0-2; Hobdy 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 13-2-0-34)
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Bogan 4-2-3-17; Walker 3-0-5-11; Byrd 2-0-4-8; Lucas 3-0-2-8; D. Jackson 1-0-1-3; Banton 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 13-2-16-48)