Tigers miss their chance for victory at Jay
By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
The game of chance can be a risky business. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it does not.
In the case of the T.R. Miller Tigers, the game of chance went against them. So did Saturday's 41-40 road loss to the Jay (Fla.) Royals.
There were several things on paper that said the night could be a long one for T.R. Miller. For starters, the Tigers went into the game with a three-game losing streak and had dropped below the .500 mark the night before against Flomaton. Besides that they were on the road against a Jay team that had compiled a 12-2 record.
Despite those hurdles, the Tigers had an opportunity to pull out a victory on the last play of the game.
"If somebody had told me ahead of time we would have a chance to win on the last possession of the game, I would have taken it in a hurry. Jay has a very good team," T.R. Miller coach Rob Atkinson said. "We felt we had the right play drawn up. We just didn't convert."
The setting for the Tigers' heartbreaking loss began when Jay's Larry Pearson hit a three-pointer with two minutes left that gave the Royals a 41-38 lead.
T.R. Miller got two of those points back 30 seconds later when Kreij Bougard scored from inside the lane to trim the Royals' advantage to 41-40. The Tigers followed that up with a defensive stop that gave them the ball with one minute left.
Atkinson and the Tigers decided to hold the ball for the last shot. As time wound down, T.R. Miller got the ball in the hands of its leading scorer for both the game and the season, senior Greg Bogan.
Bogan drove towards the basket on the right side. As he closed in, he passed up a shot attempt in favor for a pass. The pass fooled both the Royals and his Tiger teammates, as the ball bounced off three players and finally out of bounds when time expired.
Although T.R. Miller (7-9) never led in the game, it managed to stay within striking distance throughout.
Jay threatened to pull away in the early going, as a pair of buckets by Jake Nelson and Jason Burch along with a three-pointer by Pearson helped the Royals open up a 13-4 cushion in the first quarter.
An offensive rebound basket by Damien Jackson and a three-pointer by Bogan in the final two minutes of the quarter brought the Tigers within 13-9.
The second quarter followed a smilar pattern. Jay threatened to break the game open during the first half of the period. Two field goals by Burch, one by Tray Shaw and a three-pointer by Jamie Nelson enabled Jay to extend its lead to a game high margin of 23-13.
Over the final two minutes of the period the Tigers got a bucket from the wing by Trey Paul, two free throws by Laine Lucas and a three-pointer by Kreij Bougard that narrowed T.R. Miller's deficit to just 23-20 by half-time.
Three field goals by Burch enabled Jay to maintain a small cushion in the third quarter
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although T.R. Miller allowed just two additional points.
Burch's final bucket of the frame gave the Royals a five-point advantage until Bogan drained a three-pointer at the buzzer that brought T.R. Miller within 31-29 headed into the fourth quarter.
The Royals were able to bump their cushion up to a fourth quarter high margin of 36-31 when Josiah Kemp converted a three-point play two minutes into the period.
As the fourth quarter progressed, the Tigers kept clawing their way closer. A basket by Bogan made it 36-33. A free throw by Bougard got T.R. Miller another point closer.
The Tigers finally pulled even for the first time since the opening moments of the game when Bogan buried a trey with just over two minutes left that tied the game at 38-38.
"Although we never got over the hump, our players did a good job of hanging close," Atkinson said. "Even though we lost, it was a good effort by our players. I can certainly live with this kind of effort."
The Tigers, who hosted W.S. Neal Tuesday, entertain Clarke County in a Class 3A Area 1 matchup Friday.
T.R. Miller 9 11 9 11 – 40
Jay 13 10 8 10 – 41
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Bogan 6-1-0-15; Bougard 4-1-1-12; D. Jackson 1-1-0-5; Paul 2-0-0-4; Lucas 0-0-2-2; Walker 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 14-3-3-40)
JAY (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Burch 7-0-0-14; Pearson 1-2-0-8; Kemp 3-0-1-7; Jak. Nelson 3-0-0-6; Jam. Nelson 0-1-0-3; Shaw 0-1-0-3 (Totals: 14-4-1-41)