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Rally puts Tigers in title game of TRM Tournament

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
It is hardly an original expression in the game of basketball, but the phrase "tale of two halves" is pretty much the only way to describe how the T.R. Miller Tigers rallied for a 53-42 win over the West Florida Jaguars in Friday's T.R. Miller Holiday Tournament semifinal game.
The Tigers shot just 27 percent (seven-for-26), scored only 19 points and faced a 26-19 deficit in the first half. The second half was a completely different story. T.R. Miller shot 50 percent (11-for-22) from the field and scored 34 points en route to the win.
"We shot that well in the first half? It didn't seem like it," T.R. Miller coach Rob Atkinson said. "We made some nice adjustments in the second half. We started making some things happen inside, especially Trey Paul. That eventually opened things up on the outside for Greg Bogan. If we shot 50 percent in the second half, that is pretty good for us."
The offensive side was not the only place where the Tigers (7-5) stepped up their level of play in the second half. On the defensive end, T.R. Miller limited West Florida to just 28 percent from the field (five-for-18) and a mere 16 points in the second half.
T.R. Miller's defense was especially effective in the first 10 minutes of the second half when it held West Florida (2-6) to one field goal and four points.
"We played a very good second half. Now it's time for us to play a complete game," Atkinson said.
Even though West Florida entered the tournament with just one win to its credit, the Jaguars proved early on they would be a pesky foe.
T.R. Miller's lone lead in the first half was a 2-0 advantage on a hoop by Paul 30 seconds into the game.
West Florida used a three-poiner and a two-point field goal by Blake McKibben in the final two minutes of the first quarter to snap a 6-6 deadlock. With the exception of a brief tie in the second quarter, the Jaguars would lead for the remainder of the first half.
That lone second quarter tie came when a steal and layup by Greg Bogan three minutes into the period brought T.R. Miller even at 12-12.
Over the next four minutes five West Florida players scored to trigger a 12-4 run that put the Jaguars up 24-16. Not only did West Florida have a 26-19 lead at half-time, it got a shot of momentum when Antonio Smith scored on an offensive rebound at the first half buzzer.
Paul brought T.R. Miller back in the third quarter. The 6-0 senior began the second half with a three-point play and two additional buckets to tie the game at 26-26. Later in the period he added a fastbreak bucket that gave T.R. Miller a 30-28 lead, its first advantage since the opening moments of the game. Paul finished the period with five hoops and 11 points.
T.R. Miller has often been burned by shots at the buzzer this season. The Tigers returned the favor at the third quarter horn when Bogan drained a three-pointer from NBA range that gave the Tigers a 37-30 lead.
Two free throws by Bogan and another basket by Paul at the start of the fourth quarter swelled T.R. Miller's cushion into double digits at 41-30.
Bogan added a field goal and two more free throws, while Damien Jackson had a key three-point play in the fourth quarter to keep T.R. Miller on top.
Bogan led the Tigers with 18 points, while Paul added 16.
At T.R. Miller
T.R. Miller 8 11 18 16 – 53
W. Florida 11 15 4 12 – 42
See TIGERS Page 6
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Bogan 5-1-5-18; Paul 7-0-2-16; Lucas 1-0-4-6; D. Jackson 2-0-2-6; Walker 2-0-1-5; Bougard 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 18-1-14-53)
WEST FLORIDA (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) King 4-0-5-13; Smith 5-0-0-10; McKibben 1-2-0-8; Hall 2-0-0-4; Rembert 1-0-2-4; Butler 1-0-0-2; DuPont 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 14-2-8-53)
Tuesday's game
The Tigers advanced to the semifinals Tuesday when they downed the Northview (Fla.) Chiefs 51-32.
It marked the second time in 10 days T.R. Miller had beaten the Chiefs on the Brewton floor. The Tigers posted a 58-29 win back on December 20.
"It was a concern of mine that we might take them a little lightly because of that win and we did get off to a bit of a slow start," T.R. Miller coach Rob Atkinson said.
The Tigers and Chiefs were hooked up in an 8-8 deadlock through one quarter when T.R. Miller took over. The Tigers went on a 20-5 run in the second period and opened up a 28-13 half-time gap.
"We caused them a lot of problems with our press. Northview had 23 turnovers for the game, but 15 of those came in the first half," Atkinson said.
The Tigers continued to pull away in the third quarter, as an 11-6 scoring advantage in the period extended T.R. Miller's lead to 39-19.
Greg Bogan led T.R. Miller with 13 points. Phillip Eubanks had 13 to lead Northview (2-8.)
At T.R. Miller
Northview 8 5 6 13 – 32
T.R. Miller 8 20 11 12 – 51
NORTHVIEW (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Eubanks 6-0-1-13; Whatley 4-1-0-11; Maughen 1-0-2-4; Rogers 2-0-0-4 (Totals: 13-1-3-32)
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Bogan 2-3-0-13; Bougard 4-0-2-10; Paul 3-0-2-8; Walker 3-0-0-6; D. Jackson 1-1-0-5; Lucas 2-0-0-4; Byrd 0-1-0-3; Arauz 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 16-5-4-51)