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Cold shooting, free throws cost Tigers pair of games

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
The size, athleticism and depth of the Greenville Tigers did not give the T.R. Miller Tigers much room for error.
Needless to say T.R. Miller's 14-for-35 performance from the free throw line was enough in itself to send the Tigers to a 67-52 loss on their home court Friday.
Nineteen of those misses came when Greenville's lead was in single digits, but there was something extra hidden in some of those misses.
"A lot of those were front ends of one-and-ones so we lost even more chances to score," T.R. Miller coach Rob Atkinson said. "Greenville is the best team we've played this season. They don't have any one great individual player, but they are solid across the board. If we shot better from the free throw line, we're right there."
T.R. Miller (12-11), which lost to the Tigers 77-59 in the championship game of the T.R. Miller Tournament earlier in January, got started on the right foot.
After it fell behind by six points early in the first quarter, T.R. Miller fought back and took a 13-11 lead at the end of period when Greg Bogan drove in and scored at the buzzer.
T.R. Miller took its last lead halfway through the second quarter when Tye Walker scored from inside to put the host Tigers up 17-16.
Over the final four minutes of the half T.R. Miller committed six turnovers and hit just one free throw (by Bogan).
Greenville (16-9) took advantage and responded with a 15-1 run and moved in front 31-18 at half-time. Six Greenville players scored in that run.
The visiting Tigers ran their lead to as high as 43-28 halfway through the third quarter after a bucket by Devoski McMeans.
Just when it seemed Greenville had firm control of the game, T.R. Miller made a run.
A bucket by Trey Paul, a three-pointer and two free throws by Bogan and a bucket and three-pointer by Gerald Banton trimmed Greenville's lead to just 44-40 by the end of the quarter.
T.R. Miller got as close as 44-41 in the opening moments of the fourth quarter after a charity toss by Bogan, but T.R. Miller would get no closer.
The host Tigers picked a bad time for their offense to go cold, as they did not make a field goal for more than five minutes. By that time Greenville's lead was back in double digits at 56-46 and grew to as much as 67-49 before the game ended.
Atkinson noted one plus for T.R. Miller was the play of Banton, who tied Bogan for team high scoring honors with 12 points.
"Gerald came off the bench and played super. He played smart and made things happen. He has really been playing well in practice as of late," Atkinson said.
The Tigers, who hosted Red Level Saturday, travel to Flomaton Tuesday.
At T.R. Miller
Greenville 11 20 13 23 – 67
T.R. Miller 13 7 22 12 – 52
GREENVILLE (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) McMeans 8-0-0-16, Jackson 4-1-3-14; Tomlin 6-0-1-13; Pate 4-0-0-8; Anderson 2-0-1-5; Turner 1-0-2-4; Fields 2-0-0-4; Mack 1-0-0-2; Hawkins 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 28-1-8-67)
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Banton 3-1-3-12; Bogan 1-2-4-12; D. Jackson 2-1-3-10; Paul 4-0-1-9; Walker 2-0-3-7; Bougard 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 13-4-14-52)
Tuesday's game
A cold night from the field, some free throw struggles and the Escambia County Blue Devils snapped T.R. Miller's five-game winning streak with a 49-43 decision Tuesday at Atmore.
The tone for the night was set when the Tigers missed their first 10 shots from the field and did not make a field goal for more than 12 minutes at the start of the game.
The shooting problems got only slightly better the rest of the way for T.R. Miller, which finished at 25 percent for the night (nine-for-35).
Despite the Tigers' offensive woes, Escambia County failed to bury T.R. Miller when it had a chance. Time after time the
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Blue Devils lived and died with three-point attempts. For the most part Escambia County died with its perimeter game, as it hit just four of 34 shots from behind the arc.
The Blue Devils made two of those three-pointers in the opening period courtesy of Clinton Staples, as they built a 10-1 lead.
T.R. Miller's first field goal did not come until the 3:47 mark of the second quarter when Kreij Bougard scored off an assist from Greg Bogan that made it 12-5.
Once the Tigers broke the ice, their offense showed some signs of life for the remainder of the half. Damien Jackson hit a three-pointer and two free throws, Gerald Banton came off the bench and contributed a bucket and both Trey Paul and Laine Lucas connected on a free throw. By the time half-time arrived, T.R. Miller had trimmed Escambia County's lead to just 18-14.
On two occasions early in the third quarter, the Tigers cut the lead down to two points, the last of which came when two free throws by Paul made it 20-18.
Just when it seemed T.R. Miller was set to take the next step and get over the hump, it took a step back. A trey by Willie Knight, a fastbreak layup by Jeremy McCants plus two field goals and two free throws by Dereke Martin quickly knocked the Blue Devils lead up to a game high margin of 32-20 by the end of the third quarter.
While the Tigers never were able to get hot from the field, free throws helped keep them within striking distance. T.R. Miller actually had more points from the foul line (22) than it did from the field (21). However, the Tigers missed 15 free throws for the game and nine in the fourth quarter.
Escambia County still had a double digit lead of 36-25 with just over four minutes left when T.R. Miller made its best run of the game.
In less than two minutes, the Tigers completed a 13-2 run and pulled even at 38-38 when Lucas converted a three-point play.
The next minute would prove to be fatal for T.R. Miller. Martin got the lead back for the Blue Devils with a three-pointer. McCants followed with two free throws and a free throw by Knight moved Escambia County back in front 44-38.
At Escambia County
T.R. Miller 1 13 6 23 – 43
Escambia Co. 10 8 14 17 – 49
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Bogan 2-1-4-11; Bougard 2-1-2-9; D. Jackson 0-1-3-6; Lucas 1-0-4-6; Paul 0-0-5-5; Walker 0-0-4-4; Banton 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 6-3-22-43)
ESCAMBIA COUNTY (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Martin 5-1-3-16; McCants 4-0-5-13; W. Knight 2-1-1-8; Staples 1-2-0-8; Sharp 1-0-0-2; H. Knight 0-0-1-1; Montgomery 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 13-4-11-49)