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McCorvey powers Lady Tigers past DAR in semifinals

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
DAR coach Jimmie Jones said he knew his Lady Patriots squad had to find a way to slow down T.R. Miller's Ashley Samuel and Joy McCorvey.
"Our primary focus was #21 (Samuel)," Jones said. "We also knew #25 (McCorvey) was a very good player as well."
While DAR loaded up its defense to stop Samuel, who still had 17 points, McCorvey stepped up with a game high 21 to lead the Lady Tigers to a 44-34 win in Wednesday's semifinal round.
"McCorvey was the difference in the game. If we had done a better job against her, maybe the result would have been different," Jones said.
McCorvey and Samuel accounted for 38 of T.R. Miller's 44 points. In fact, Jasmine Sanford was the only other Lady Tiger to score.
"We depend a lot on Ashley and Joy, but we have some other players I think can score. I'm still waiting for that game where they will all be clicking at the same time. I don't think we've played our best game yet. I guess we're running out of time to do that," T.R. Miller coach Ron Jackson said.
The semifinal win followed a similar pattern to the regional championship game win over Sumter County.
The Lady Tigers (29-2) struggled with their shooting on the offensive side, but more than made up with it on defense.
"We've actually had quite a few games where we didn't shoot well, but we depend a lot on our defense to win games," Jackson said.
T.R. Miller (29-2) managed a six-point lead in the first half despite the fact it hit just five of 18 shots in the first quarter and nine of 29 in the first half (31 percent).
DAR (27-7) was even less effective. The Lady Patriots hit only four of 18 first half shots (22 percent) and 11 of 46 for the game (24 percent).
"T.R. Miller has a lot of quickness. While we have played teams with similar quickness, those teams didn't have the overall size to go with that quickness that Miller," Jones said. "The other thing Miller has is experience at this level. Their program is a perennial state power. Their kids have been through this before. Ours haven't."
While T.R. Miller had some early shooting difficulties, it was able to build a small first half lead through extra opportunities. The Lady Tigers took 10 more shots than DAR in the first quarter and 12 more for the first half, thanks laregly to nine offensive rebounds.
The Lady Patriots took their only leads early in the game at 3-0 and 6-4 before McCorvey scored twice off assists from Samuel and Sanford. Sanford then converted a steal into a layup to put T.R. Miller up 10-6.
DAR's Mia Keller, who scored 25 points in the Lady Patriots regional championship win over Plainview but was held to five Wednesday, hit a three-pointer late in the frame that cut the lead to just 10-9.
A free throw by Sameul and two hoops by mcCorvey extended T.R. Miller's lead to 15-9 early in the second quarter. That turned out to be the Lady Tigers' largest advantage of the first half although it matched that margin at 17-11 and again at 19-13 headed into half-time.
Although McCorvey was the only T.R. Miller player to score in the third quarter, the 6-0 sophomore helped the Lady Tigers open up a little breathing room with an 11-point frame.
McCorvey scored twice off asists from Samuel, the latter of which extended T.R. Miller's lead into double digits for the first time at 29-18.
The Lady Tigers took a 30-21 lead headed into the fourth period when a pair of field goals by Samuel, one off an assist from McCorvey and the other off a pull-up jumper from the free throw line, increased the gap to 34-21 with six minutes left.
Just when thought may have started to drift towards a possible championship game berth, DAR made a run.
Thanks to eight fourth quarter turnovers by the Lady Tigers, DAR went on a 9-0 and pulled within 34-30 after a basket by Katrina Troup with 2:12 left.
After Samuel hit two free throws with two minutes left to make it a six-point lead, DAR made two critical turnovers off bad passes during the next minute.
In between those DAR miscues, T.R. Miller got baskets by Samuel and Sanford that extended the lead to 40-32.
Samuel then hit four free throws in the final minute to secure the win.
At Birmingham
T.R. Miller 10 9 11 14 – 44
DAR 9 4 8 13 – 34
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) McCorvey 10-0-1-21; Samuel 6-0-5-17; Sanford 2-0-2-6 (Totals: 18-0-8-44)
DAR (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Largen 3-0-4-10; Choat 3-0-2-8; Keller 1-1-0-5; Giles 1-0-3-5; Troup 1-0-0-2; Moore 0-0-2-2; Witaker 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 10-1-11-34)