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Area title hopes remain alive for Tigers

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
It remains to be seen whether or not the T.R. Miller Tigers will get a piece of the Class 3A Area 1 regular season title and the honor of hosting next month's Area Tournament.
If the Tigers play like they did Friday when they suffocated the visiting Clarke County Bulldogs 47-40, it may not matter where the Area Tournament is played.
"We played like champions. Our defense was outstanding. We came up with some big plays on offense in the fourth quarter when we needed them. We had a lapse the first couple minutes of the game, but out of 32 minutes we played pretty well in about 30 of them. That's pretty good," T.R. Miller coach Rob Atkinson said.
The win enabled the Tigers (9-9 overall and 2-1 in Area 1 play) to pull even with Clarke County (13-5 overall and 3-1 in Area 1 play) in the loss column and avenge a 50-45 loss at Grove Hill 10 days earlier. T.R. Miller can get a piece of the Area 1 regular season title Tuesday with a win at W.S. Neal. If that scenario occurs, a coin toss will be used to determine the host of the Area Tournament.
Outside of a three-minute stretch at the start of the game where Clarke County built a 7-0 lead, the Tigers pretty much had their way with the Bulldogs, at least on the defensive side.
It took a while for T.R. Miller's offense to get in the same kind of rhythm. The Tigers missed six of their first eight shots and found themselves on the short end of a 13-6 score early in the second quarter.
Over the final seven minutes of the first half T.R. Miller allowed just a lone three-pointer by Ben Burroughs, who hit five treys in the game.
A bucket and two free throws by Tye Walker and a three-pointer by Greg Bogan gave the Tigers some spark. Yet it was senior Trey Paul who really ignited the T.R. Miller engine in the second quarter.
Paul had a feld goal, four free throws and a steal in the final four minutes of the half. The first two of his charity tosses gave the Tigers their first lead of the game at 17-16. He hit two more moments later that increased the lead to three points. That 19-16 edge was the same one T.R. Miller held at half-time.
After T.R. Miller increased its cushion to six points early in the third quarter, Clarke County pulled even at 22-22 after a field goal by Roderick Davis.
A couple of field goals late in the third quarter by Paul enabled T.R. Miller to take a 28-25 lead into the final frame.
The complexion of the game changed in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter. Bogan drained a three-pointer, Kreij Bougard got a bucket from inside and Damien Jackson
See TIGERS Page 6
connected from behind the arc. Just like that T.R. Miller owned a 36-25 lead.
With just over two minutes left Paul converted a three-point play and Jackson hit a free throw that knocked the cushion up to 46-32, which all but sealed the deal.
At T.R. Miller
Clarke County 8 8 9 15 – 40
T.R. Miller 6 13 9 19 – 47
CLARKE COUNTY (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Burroughs 0-5-0-15; Johnson 6-0-0-12; Davis 2-0-0-4; Armstrong 0-1-0-3; Morris 1-0-1-3; Williams 1-0-0-2; Horn 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 10-6-2-40)
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Paul 5-0-5-15; Bogan 1-2-3-11; Walker 1-0-4-6; D. Jackson 1-1-1-6; Banton 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 12-3-14-47)
Tuesday's game
The Tigers achieved all three of their goals when they knocked off the visiting W.S. Neal Blue Eagles 64-37 Tuesday.
For starters, the win enabled T.R. Miller to keep its hopes for a share of the Class 3A Area 1 regular season title alive. Second, the Tigers put the brakes on a four-game losing streak. Finally, T.R. Miller was able to extend arch rival W.S. Neal's winless season by another game.
The Tigers' defense produced a tough first half shooting performance from the field for the Blue Eagles, as they built a 19-point half-time edge. W.S. Neal hit just two of its 14 shots (15 percent) in the first quarter and only five of 28 (18 percent) for the first half.
T.R. Miller (8-9) had a double digit lead before the game was six minutes old and never relinquished it. Greg Bogan was a big part of the early surge by the Tigers with a three-pointer, a baseline jumper and three free throws. Yet it was Damien Jackson's three-pointer that gave T.R. Miller a 14-2 lead.
Up 14-4 after one period, T.R. Miller quickly added to that cushion in the second frame. A steal and layup by Kreij Bougard, a free throw by Trey Paul and a three-pointer by Chris Byrd made it 20-4.
The Tigers extended their lead to a first half high of 29-9 when Bougard turned a steal into a layup with a minute left in the half.
Another steal and layup, this one by Bogan, in the waning moments of the first half gave T.R. Miller a 33-14 lead at the midway point.
As dark as that picture was for W.S. Neal (0-12), it grew even darker when the Tigers began the third quarter with consecutive buckets by Laine Lucas, Bougard and Paul to knock the lead all the way up to 39-14.
At that point the struggling Blue Eagles' offense finally came to life, as they ended the period on a 16-8 surge. Alphonso Gross and Cory Freeman both had a pair of field goals, while Marcus Folmar had a bucket and two free throws in that stretch. One of Folmar's charity tosses came in the final minute of the quarter that trimmed the Tigers' lead to 47-30.
W.S. Neal drew even closer early in the fourth quarter when Gross drove in for a score to narrow the gap to 47-32.
Any further comeback hopes the Blue Eagles entertained stalled out when they hit just two of their final 11 shots to go along with four turnovers.
Paul, who along with Bogan had a game high 16 points, probably finished off W.S. Neal with a three-point play, a free throw and a bucket from inside the lane over the next 90 seconds to get the lead back to 20 points at 53-33.
At T.R. Miller
W.S. Neal 4 10 16 7 – 37
T.R. Miller 14 19 14 17 – 64
W.S. NEAL (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Freeman 5-0-2-12; Folmar 5-0-2-12; Gross 3-0-1-7; Hulley 1-0-0-2; Burch 1-0-0-2; Alexander 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 16-0-5-37)
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Bogan 2-3-3-16; Paul 6-0-4-16; D. Jackson 2-2-0-10; Bougard 4-0-0-8; Lucas 2-0-1-5; Byrd 0-1-1-4; Walker 1-0-1-3; Marshall 0-0-2-2 (Totals: 17-6-12-64)