Tigers keep finding ways to get it done
By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
T.R. Miller Tigers coach Rob Atkinson will be the first one to admit his team is a long way from peaking.
It might be an intimidating thought to opposing teams when that time does arrive.
For now, the Tigers are simply finding ways to get the job done. The latest was Monday' 51-45 home court victory over the Andalusia Bulldogs.
"We're 6-1 with our starters all here so I'm real pleased with that end of it. We're winning ugly, but the bottom line is we're winning. We haven't played to our potential yet, but we're playing hard. I think we're building some good chemistry," Atkinson said.
T.R. Miller (6-2) did not lead for very long in Monday's game, but it did lead when it mattered the most – at the end.
Both teams struggled to generate any offense in the first quarter. The Tigers got a quick bucket from Gerald Banton, but managed just one free throw over the next eight minutes.
Fortunately from T.R. Miller's standpoint, Andalusia (3-5) was nearly equally inept. The Bulldogs also managed just a field goal and free throw in the first quarter until Dandre Wright buried a three-pointer at the buzzer that gave Andalusia a 6-3 lead.
After the slow start, both teams started to find a bit of an offensive groove in the second quarter.
T.R. Miller regrouped to take its biggest lead of the first half when Damien Jackson's three-pointer put the Tigers on top 16-12.
Wright helped rally Andalusia just before halftime with a pair of buckets and two free throws that brought the visitors even at 20-20 headed into intermission.
The Tigers began the third quarter on a good enough note, as an offensive rebound bucket by Laine Lucas and a three-pointer by Wade Jackson gave T.R. Miller a 25-22 lead.
Just when it looked as T.R. Miller had things headed in the right direction, things fell apart in a hurry.
Missed shots, turnovers and a 10-0 run by the Bulldogs, fueled largely through two buckets by Chris Cotton and Michael Berry, suddenly had T.R. Miller in a 32-25 hole.
"We were in a lot of trouble at that point. Being down seven points to Andalusia with the style they play is more like being down about 15. I was afraid they were going to pull the ball out and hold it," Atkinson said.
A key three-pointer by Damien Jackson from the corner helped get T.R. Milelr headed back in the right direction.
Over the next couple of minutes buckets by Tye Walker and Chris Byrd and a free throw by Damien Jackson had trimmed Andalusia's lead to a mere point, 34-33.
The Tigers had a tough time getting over the hump. They finally caught Andalusia with 4:36 left when Gerald Banton's field goal from inside the lane tied the game at 40-40.
After the teams traded buckets, T.R. Miller took its first lead since late in the second quarter when Wade Jackson used a spin move off an assist from Lucas that led to a three-point play and a 45-42 lead with 3:16 left.
Walker scored an offensive rebound bucket with just under two minutes left that made it a two-possession lead of 47-42. Damien Jackson, who scored a game high 18 points, added a wide open layup with just under a minute left that made it 49-42 and for all intent sealed the victory.
The Tigers also won the junior varsity game 50-39 and improved to 4-1 at that level.
Terrelle Brooks led T.R. Miller with 16 points, while Brandon Andrews added 14.
Monday's game was the last for T.R. Miller until next week's T.R. Miller Holiday Tournament. The Tigers will open play Monday against W.S. Neal at 7:30 p.m.
At T.R. Miller
Andalusia 6 14 16 9 – 45
T.R. Miller 3 17 13 18 – 51
ANDALUSIA (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Cotton 5-0-1-11; Wright 2-1-2-9; Johnson 3-1-0-9; Berry 3-0-2-8; James 2-0-2-6; Cauley 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 16-2-7-45)
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) D. Jackson 2-3-5-18; Ty. Walker 5-0-0-10; W. Jackson 1-1-3-8; Banton 3-0-0-6; Lucas 3-0-0-6; Byrd 1-0-1-3 (Totals: 15-4-9-51)
Andalusia 13 8 8 10 – 39
T.R. Miller 14 9 11 16 – 50
ANDALUSIA (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Centner 5-0-2-12; McTyeize 2-0-3-7; Jones 3-0-1-7; Sims 3-0-0-6; Crittenden 2-0-1-5; Neal 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 16-0-7-39)
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Brooks 8-0-0-16; Andrews 6-0-2-14; Samuel 3-0-1-7; Ter. Walker 2-0-0-4; Stallworth 2-0-0-4; Jer. Knight 1-0-1-3; Cunningham 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 23-0-4-50)
T.R. Miller 43, Northview 30
Despite a double digit victory, the Tigers overcame a huge scare Saturday when they rallied to beat the host Northview (Fla.) Chiefs.
T.R. Miller found itself in an 11-point hole at halftime against a Northview team that had won just one game on the season.
"We were just flat. The intensity wasn't there. We didn't have any legs," T.R. Miller coach Rob Atkinson said. "In a lot of ways, this was a trap game on our schedule. We had the big, emotional win at Monroe County the night before and a big game with Andalusia on Monday."
The Tigers' biggest downfall most of the game was their shooting. At one point early in the third quarter, T.R. Miller
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was just five-for-30 from the field (17 percent).
"That speaks for itself," Atkinson said.
Despite its offensiveproblems, T.R. Milelr did not run into a lot of danger until the second quarter.
The Tigers hit only three of 15 first quarter shots, but found themselves still tied at 9-9 after a hoop by Laine Lucas with 25 seconds left in the frame.
Northview's Jamie Allen scored on an offensive rebound just before the first quarterbuzzer that put the Chiefs back in front 11-9. Northview (1-5) slowly added to that margin throughout the seocnd quarter.
A pair of three-pointers by Sam Martin, one with four minutes left and another with two minutes to go, put the Chief's edge up to 22-14. A basket by Allen in the final minute of the first half knocked Northview's lead to a game high margin of 24-13.
While T.R. Miller continued to struggle on the offensive end in the second half, it made up for it on the defensive side.
The Tigers turned up the pressure and forced the Chiefs into 20 second half turnovers, 15 in the third quarter alone. Those numbers showed up in the opportunities each team had. T.R. Miller took 27 shots in the second half and allowed Northview only eight.
"Our defense is what got us going. We just weren't able to get anything going on the offensive end. We only gave up six points and eight shots in the second half. That's really good," Atkinson said.
Gerald Banton had five keys steals for T.R. Miller in that third quarter. Four of those were converted into baskets on the other end.
Banton, who led T.R. Miller with 13 points, converted two of those steals into baskets for himself, which included one with seven seconds left in the third quarter that gave T.R. Miller a 30-28 lead.
Banton followed his steals up with back-to-back buckets at the start of the fourth quarter that extended the Tigers' lead to 34-28 and capped off a 20-4 run to start the second half.
The surge did not end there. A bucket by Walker, two free throws by Banton and a layup by Wade Jackson quickly put T.R. Miller's lead into double digits at 40-30 with two minutes left.
"It shows a lot about our character to win this game. We didn't play very well, but we found a way to win," Atkinson said.
T.R. Miller's junior varsity completed a sweep of the night's action with a 47-14 victory. The Tigers had just a 21-12 halftime edge before they went on a 20-0 tear in the third quarter.
Brandon Andrews and Brandon Samuel each clipped the nets for 13 points to pace the winners.
T.R. Miller 9 4 17 13 – 43
Northview 11 13 4 2 – 30
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Banton 4-0-5-13; D. Jackson 3-1-1-10; W. Jackson 2-1-0-7; Ty. Walker 3-0-0-6; Lucas 2-0-0-4; Byrd 1-0-0-2; Jones 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 15-2-7-43)
NORTHVIEW (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Allen 5-0-2-12; Martin 2-2-0-10; Whatley 1-1-1-6; Banks 2-0-0-4 (Totals: 10-3-3-30)
T.R. Miller 11 10 20 6 – 47
Northview 4 8 0 2 – 14
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Samuel 5-1-0-13; Andrews 5-1-0-13; Stallworth 3-0-2-8; Brooks 3-0-0-6; Curry 2-0-0-4; Payne 1-0-0-2; Cunningham 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 14-2-3-47)
NORTHVIEW (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Yuhasz 2-0-1-5; Levins 2-0-0-4; Brawes 1-0-0-2; Howard 1-0-0-2; Wright 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 6-0-2-14)