Lady Tigers take tough road to Emerald Coast crown

Published 8:20 am Wednesday, December 1, 2004

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
The line between winning and losing can often be a thin one.
A play here or a play there and the T.R. Miller Lady Tigers could have easily gone 0-3 at the Emerald Coast Classic at Fort Walton Beach (Fla.).
Instead the Lady Tigers made those plays in all three gamesto come away with the championship in their inaugural appearance at one of the most prestigious tournaments in the Florida Panhandle.
T.R. Miller secured the championship Saturday with a hard-fought 40-34 overtime victory over Niceville (Fla.). Earlier in the tournament the Lady Tigers overcame a 17-point second half deficit in 46-45 semifinal victory over Pensacola (Fla.). T.R. Miller also wiped out an 11-point hole in their 51-49 triumph over Fort Walton Beach in the opening round.
"Our girls just kept fighting throughout. We could have just as easily lost all three games as won them, but they never gave us," T.R. Miller coach Ron Jackson said. "This was a great tournament for us. We saw some excellent teams. The teams we saw are probably better than any we'll see in our class in Alabama. The schools we beat would have been 6A schools here."
The Lady Tigers won the championship game against Niceville despite the fact only had three players scored.
T.R. Miller led 20-16 at halftime and 26-23 after three quarters before Niceville rallied in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 32-32 and force overtime.
In the extra session, Jasmine Sanford hit three big free throws for T.R. Miller. Joy McCorvey, who led all scorers with 25 points, had a bucket and a field goal. Krystle Smith came up with two clutch free throws as well. The free throws Smith hit were her only points of the game.
In Friday's semifinal victory, the Lady Tigers got off to a sluggish start and found themselves down 25-10 at halftime. That margin grew to a game high 17 points after Pensacola scored the opening bucket of the second half.
At that point T.R. Miller finally started to get going. They cut the gap to 33-27 by the end of the third quarter and then outscored Pensacola 19-12 in the final peiord.
Free throws were a big item in the final stanza, as T.R. Miller hit eight of nine charity tosses. They also got a key basket by Samantha Brown, who had come up with a big steal moments earlier.
"We took the lead with about five minutes to go, but it was still anybody's game the rest of the way. Samantha came off the bench and gave us some good minutes. She has really improved since last year. We may be looking at giving her more time, especially at the two spot," Jackson said.
Keonshaye Lane led T.R. Miller with 17 points, while Sanford added 13.
Friday's game
T.R. Miller 5 5 17 19 – 46
Pensacola 20 5 8 12 – 45
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Lane 6-1-2-17; Sanford 4-0-5-13; McCorvey 3-0-4-10; Smith 2-0-0-4; Brown 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 16-1-11-46)
PENSACOLA (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Gates 6-1-3-18; Yates 2-1-1-8; Smow 4-0-0-8; Williams 2-0-0-4; Gibbons 2-0-0-4; Frank 1-0-1-3 (Totals: 17-2-5-45)
Saturday's game
T.R. Miller 9 11 6 6 8 – 40
Niceville 11 5 7 11 2 – 34
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) McCorvey 10-0-5-25; Sanford 3-0-7-13; Smith 0-0-2-2 (Totals: 13-0-14-40)
NICEVILLE (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Drake 4-1-0-11; Mayo 3-0-0-6; Green 2-0-1-5; Jordan 0-1-2-5; Ellis 1-0-2-4; Brooks 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 11-1-6-34)