Second half surge carries TRM girls to crown
By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
If the T.R. Miller Lady Tigers wish to be invited back to the Pensacola Catholic Tournament in the future, they probably did not do themselves any favors when they knocked off the host Lady Crusders 60-43 in Tuesday's champonship game.
While Lady Tigers coach Ron Jackson is still waiting for his team to play a perfect game, T.R. Miller used a near perfect second half to wrestle the crown away from the the host school.
"Hopefully we'll have that perfect game at the right time down the road," Jackson said. "I think it really speaks a lot of our team to come in here and beat Pensacola Catholic on their own floor in their own tournament. They've got a great program (that has won our state championships) and a lot of tradition."
T.R. Miller (11-1) found itself in a rare position this season for much of the first half…on the wrong end of the scoreboard. The Lady Tigers trailed by as any as six points in the second quarter before a late surge forced a 29-29 deadlock at halftime.
In the second half, T.R. Miller could do little wrong. The Lady Tigers hit their final 10 shots over the last nine minutes. After being outrebounded by Pensacola Catholic 12-8 in the first half, T.R. Miller dominated the boards in the second half with a staggering 16-2 advantage.
"Pensacola Catholic pushed us outside a lot more than we wanted in the first half, but in the second half we were able to get the ball inside and get good shots," Jackson said. "We did a lot better job hitting the boards in the second half although I didn't know we had that big an advantage."
The first three minutes of the second half changed the complexion of the game. During that span the Lady Tigers got four buckets from inside by Joy McCorvey, a free throw by Jasmine Sanford and a steal and layup by Ashley Samuel to quickly open up a 40-31 lead. T.R. Miller also had a 10-1 edge on the boards in those three minutes.
While McCorvey started the Lady Tigers 'engine in the second half, Samuel drove it home the rest of the way.
Samuel had two steals for layups in the third quarter that helped T.R. Miller maintain that nine-point edge at 44-35 headed into the fourth quarter.
However, it was the fourth quarter where the 5-9 senior especially shined with five field goals in as many attempts. Samuel finished the game with 33 points en route to tournament Most Valuable Player honors.
"Ashley is our only senior and she stepped up in both leadership and performance," Jackson said.
Two hoops by Samuel and another field goal by Joy McCorvey, who had 17 points for the game and joined Samuel on the all-tournament team, at the start of the fourth quarter put the Lady Tigers in firm control with a 50-35 lead.
That bulge grew to a game high margin of 18 points after a basket by McCorvey in the final minute.
Another key for the Lady Tigers in the second half was their defense against Pensacola Catholic senior guard Lauren Lambert. Lambert hit a trio of three-pointers and scored 13 total points in the first half. Lambert was held scoreless in the second half.
Lambert had two of those three-pointers and eight of those points in the first half when Pensacola Catholic (9-3) took an 11-9 lead.
Back-to-back buckets by Tina Grace in the first 30 seconds of the second quarter gave the Lady Crusaders their biggest lead of the game at 17-11.
Samuel wiped that out cushion out with 12 points over the final seven minutes of the first half, which included a three-pointer, a three-point play and three two-point field goals.
T.R. Miller, which played at Pensacola (Fla.) High School Saturday in a game added to its original schedule, will travel to Class 3A Area 1 rival Clarke County Tuesday. T.R. Miller will return home Friday with a game against Flomaton.
At Pensacola Catholic
T.R. Miller 11 18 15 16 – 60
Pensacola Ca. 13 16 6 8 – 43
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Samuel 14-1-2-33; McCorvey 8-0-1-17; Smith 2-0-1-5; Sanford 2-0-1-5 (Totals: 26-1-5-60)
PENSACOLA CATHOLIC (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Lambert 2-3-0-13; Barker 4-0-1-9; Grace 4-0-0-8; Gibson 2-1-0-7; Caldwell 2-0-1-5; Bordelon 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 14-4-3-43)