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MGM wears TRM Tourney crown

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
It is usually the first thing they work on when practice begins and the last thing they do before practice ends.
It is also probably the biggest reason why the T.R. Miller Tigers fell to the Mary G. Montgomery Vikings 66-52 in Wednesday's T.R. Miller Tournament championship game.
"If we had hit our free throws, we would have been right there with them and it would have changed the complexion of the game," T.R. Miller coach Rob Atkinson said.
The Tigers' problems at the free throw line added up to 12-for-26 and it took a late surge for them to reach that 47 percent mark.
"A couple of those misses were the front end of one-and-one. It's the same thing as a turnover when you do that," Atkinson said. "Mary Montgomery had a lot of size inside, but we didn't back down to them. We went right at them and drew a lot of fouls. We just didn't make the free throws."
The Tigers did a respectable job of holding down Vikings guard and TRM Tournament Most Valuable Player Mikhail Torrance, who is being recruited by several Division I schools including Alabama.
"We held Torrance to 13 points and a lot of those came late. However, he beats you in so many other ways. He makes things happen," Atkinson said. "Mary Montgomery is a great team. They're a 6A school that has played against some tremendous competition down in the Mobile area. If one player doesn't beat you, another one does and they had other players step up. Probably the one who hurt us the most was their other guard, (Marcus) Coleman (who had a team high 15 points)."
The Tigers, who had a six-game winning streak snapped, were able to match the Vikings blow for blow in the early going.
All five T.R. Miller starters scored in the first quarter although none had more than one field goal or two points.
Yet that was enough for the Tigers to lead most of the opening frame. They took what turned out to be their biggest lead of the game late in the period when Laine Lucas scored off an assist from Wade Jackson for an 8-5 edge.
Mary Montgomery (9-5) was able to make the first quarter a draw when James Goodman scored late in the frame to tie things up at 10-10.
T.R. Miller (8-3) took its last lead of the game at 13-10 when Chris Byrd sank a three-three-pointer at the start of the second quarter.
Over the next five minutes the Tigers managed just a free throw by Lucas. During that dry spell the Vikings turned that 13-10 deficit into a 23-14 lead thanks largely to a pair of field goals and a free throw by Brandon Campbell.
That advantage reached double digits just before halftime when Goodman scored from inside the lane to make it 33-23.
The Tigers were barely clinging to life a couple minutes into the third quarter when Mary Montgomery's lead had grown to 35-21. Coleman had a three-point attempt roll around and out. Had that shot gone down, T.R. Miller may have just about dropped out of contention with a 17-point deficit.
Instead the Tigers took advantage of the break. Actually a better description is senior Damien Jackson took advantage of the opportunity.
Jackson connected on four field goals and a free throw over the final six minutes of the period. The last of those hoops, a short jumper in the lane that banked off the glass, with two seconds left in the quarter cut Mary Montgomery's lead to just 39-33.
The Tigers eventually got within 44-40 with just under six minutes when the rally started to run out of steam.
Torrance had been held to a mere five points until the final frame, but came alive down the stretch with a pair of buckets and a four-for-five mark from the free throw line.
However, the key blow probably came with four minutes left when a three-point play by Alexander Henderson put the Vikings' lead back into double digits at 53-42. It eventually grew to as many as 16 points before the game ended.
At T.R. Miller
T.R. Miller 10 9 14 19 – 52
Mary Mont. 10 19 10 27 – 66
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) D. Jackson 6-1-4-19; Lucas 3-0-5-11; Walker 4-0-3-11; Byrd 1-1-0-5; Banton 2-0-0-4; W. Jackson 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 17-2-12-52)
MARY MONTGOMERY (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Coleman 6-0-3-15; Torrance 4-0-5-13; Campbell 5-0-2-12; Goodman 5-0-0-10; McIntosh 1-1-2-7; Henderson 1-0-2-4; Wanton 1-0-1-3; Nobles 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 24-1-15-66)
T.R. Miller 61, West Florida 51
The Tigers earned their berth in the championship game and captured their sixth straight victory in the process with Tuesday's 61-51 victory over the West Florida Jaguars.
"Defense probably won this game for us. We really got after them, got some turnovers with our press and got some buckets that way," T.R. Miller coach Rob Atkinson said.
The Tigers were also able to find their way to the free throw line 35 times although 17 misses prevented them from wrapping up the game sooner than they did.
"We did a good job of getting the ball in the paint and getting to the basket. We just didn't finish things off as well at the free throw line as we needed," Atkinson said.
A three-pointer by Damien Jackson and buckets by Gerald Banton, Tye Walker and Laine Lucas, who had a double-double of 12 points and 15 rebounds, helped T.R. Miller take a 9-7 lead through one quarter.
After a bit of a slow start on offense, T.R. Miller heated up in the second quarter.
Banton was the main spark behind that surge with three hoops and a free throw. Lucas also added a pair of field goals, as T.R. Miller widened its lead to 26-21 at halftime.
Damien Jackson helped the Tigers put the game away in the second half. Jackson only had the one three-pointer in the first half, but came up with 16 more points over the last two frames.
Jackson had a pair of treys and another field goal in the third quarter where the Tigers extended their cushion to 42-33. He also hit six of eight free throws
See TIGERS Page 6
and added another bucket in the final frame.
At T.R. Miller
West Florida 7 14 12 18 – 51
T.R. Miller 9 17 16 19 – 61
WEST FLORIDA (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Rileay 1-2-1-9; Hughes 2-0-3-7; DuPont 3-0-0-6; Jordan 1-1-0-5; Wilkerson 2-0-0-4; Rambert 1-0-2-4; Jefferson 0-1-1-4; McKibben 0-1-0-3; Lutley 0-1-0-3; Gaston 0-0-2-2; Anderson 1-0-0-2; Bryant 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 12-6-9-51)
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) D. Jackson 2-3-6-19; Banton 6-0-1-13; Lucas 4-0-4-12; W. Jackson 0-0-6-6; Byrd 3-0-0-6; Ty. Walker 2-0-1-5 (Totals: 17-3-18-61)