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Rams bring curtain down on TRM season

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
The end result was the same and the final margin was not far off from their matchup in the previous year.
Yet the T.R. Miller Tigers of 2003-04 were able to walk off their home court with a lot better feeling despite Friday's 55-38 Class 3A Sub-Regional loss to the Francis Marion Rams.
"This was much better than our game against Francis Marion last year (a 63-41 loss on the same floor in the same sub-regional round). We had a bad week of practice prior to that game last year and they pulled away early in that game," T.R. Miller coach Rob Atkinson said. "This year we had a good, although not great week of practice prior to the game. I felt the players did everything they could. Francis Marion has just too much size and athleticism for us. It's tough to prepare for a team like that. We can't simulate those kinds of conditions in practice."
Friday's final margin of victory is misleading. Francis Marion (21-9) had just a seven-point lead with 90 seconds left before it broke the game open.
"We had a little lapse in the second quarter where we had some turnovers and they got some offensive rebound buckets on us. Other than that we were able to stay with them until late in the game," Atkinson said.
If T.R. Miller (16-12) needs to look at a specific area for its downfall, it would probably be field goal shooting. The Tigers hit just 12 of 44 attempts from the field (28 percent).
"We had to play a near perfect game to win. We didn't shoot well enough," Atkinson said.
In the first three minutes of the game, T.R. Miller got three-pointers from Gerald Banton and Greg Bogan to take a 6-4 edge. It would be the Tigers' last lead of the game and the season.
Trey Paul brought T.R. Miller into an 8-8 deadlock with a field goal with just under five minutes left in the frame.
Both teams would make just one more shot the rest of the quarter, but there was a difference. Francis Marion took the lead for good when James Nogue hit a three-pointer. T.R. Miller had to settle for a 15-foot baseline jumper by Bogan as time expired that sliced the Rams' advantage to 11-10.
The Tigers had just one field goal the first five minutes of the second quarter until a hoop by Paul cut Francis Marion's lead to 19-15.
Over the next two minutes the Rams got a steal and layup by Julus Algood, two offensive rebound field goals by Algood and a steal and layup by Dwayne Woods. In what seemed to be just a blink of an eye, the Rams' advantage grew to 27-15.
The Tigers, who trailed 27-17 at the midway point, made a run early in the third quarter. Paul scored off an assist by Banton, Bogan hit two free throws and Damien Jackson converted a three-point play that narrowed the gap to just 29-24.
Over the final three minutes of the period the Rams got a key three-point play by Adrian Essey, an offensive rebound bucket by Algood and a three-pointer by Nogue to push the lead up to 37-28 headed into the fourth quarter.
To make matters worse for the home team, Francis Marion began the fourth quarter with buckets by Jeremy Arrington and Essey to increase the gap to 41-28.
Just when it seemed the curtain was set to close on T.R. Miller's campaign, the Tigers made one last charge.
Jackson hit a pair of free throws, Kreij Bougard drained a three-pointer and Banton connected on a charity toss to make it 41-34 with better than three minutes still left.
It was still just a seven-point game of 43-36 with 90 seconds left when the Rams shut the door with a decisive 12-2 run. Arrington had a key three-point play and Clarence Algood capped things off with a three-pointer in that final surge.
At T.R. Miller
Francis Marion 11 16 10 18 – 55
T.R. Miller 10 7 11 10 – 38
FRANCIS MARION (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) J. Algood 7-0-2-16; Nogue 2-2-0-10; Arrington 2-0-5-9; Sewell 4-0-0-8; Essey 2-0-1-5; Woods 2-0-0-4; C. Algood 0-1-0-3 (Totals: 19-3-8-38)
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Bogan 2-1-5-12; Paul 4-0-0-8; D. Jackson 1-0-4-6; Bougard 1-1-0-5; Banton 0-1-1-4; Walker 1-0-1-3 (Totals: 9-3-11-38)