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Tigers hit double digits in win column

By By BRUCE HIXON
Sports Editor
When it comes to Area play, the bottom line is how a team does in its postseason tournament.
Then again, how a team performs in the Area in regular season play can have a big impact on how a team does in postseason.
While it was just one game and just their first Class 3A Area 1 contest of the season, the T.R. Miller Tigers took a big step towards a possible Area regular season championship Tuesday when they knocked off the Clarke County Bulldogs 50-40 at Brewton.
T.R. Miller and Clarke County shared the Area 1 regular season title last year, but the Tigers were awarded the top seed and home court advantage for the Area postseason tournament through a coin toss. The Tigers then used that home court advantage to win last year's Area Tournament.
"Winning the Area regular season title and getting the home court advantage that goes with it are extremely important. If it comes down to Clarke County and us like it did last year, we don't want to have to go to Grove Hill for the Area Tournament. That is a very tough place play," T.R. Miller coach Rob Atkinson said. "While this was a big win for us, it is just one game with five big Area games left."
While the Tigers never trailed after the first quarter, they were never able to shake the Bulldogs (7-7 overall, 1-1 in Area 1) until late in the fourth quarter.
"Clarke County was better than I expected. Their players really got after it. They're a pretty young team and those young players will keep getting better as the season goes along," Atkinson said.
Clarke County never trailed in the first quarter and thanks largely to a pair of three-pointers by DeForest Taite, led by as many as four points on a couple of occasions.
T.R. Miller got a much needed spark at the first quarter buzzer when Damien Jackson swished a three-pointer that cut the visitors' lead to just 13-12.
The senior Jackson member of the Tigers then gave T.R. Miller its first lead of the game in the early moments of the second quarter with a pair of free throws.
Buckets by Gerald Banton off an assist from Tye Walker and an offensive rebound bucket by Damien Jackson capped off a 9-0 run that extended T.R. Miller's advantage to a first half high of 18-13.
Three second quarter field goals by Jonathan Horn, who had 10 of his 12 points in the first half, kept the Bulldogs close. The last of those buckets brought Clarke County within 22-21 before a field goal by Chris Byrd in the final minute of the first half gave the Tigers a 24-21 halftime lead.
T.R. Miller was able to extend that cushion up to six points on three occasions in the third quarter, the last of which was a 35-29 edge after Damien Jackson's bucket with just over a minute left in the frame.
Clarke County cut that lead down to four points by the end of the third quarter and then to just 37-34 after a trey by Ben Burroughs with just under seven minutes left.
T.R. Miller's defense stiffened and held Clarke County to just three free throws over the next six minutes.
During that time the Tigers were finally able to deliver the knockout blow. Laine Lucas helped ignite the decisive surge with a bucket and four free throws and Damien Jackson also had a couple of key hoops in that run, the last of which gave T.R. Miller its biggest lead of the game at 49-37 with 40 seconds left.
The Tigers junior varsity won its first game of 2005 after a 15-day layoff with a 44-30 triumph over a Clarke County team that had been 10-0.
Brandon Andrews led T.R. Miller (5-1) with 10 points, while Terrelle Brooks had nine.
At T.R. Miller
Clarke County 13 8 10 9 – 40
T.R. Miller 12 12 11 15 – 50
CLARKE COUNTY (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Horn 5-0-2-12; Morris 1-1-2-7; Williams 2-0-3-7; Taite 0-2-0-6; B. Burroughs 0-1-0-3; Powell 1-0-1-3; McRae 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 10-4-8-40)
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) D. Jackson 4-1-2-13;
See TIGERS Page 7
Banton 3-0-3-9; Ty. Walker 2-1-2-9; Lucas 2-0-4-8; W. Jackson 2-0-2-6; Byrd 2-0-1-5 (Totals: 15-2-14-50)
Junior varsity
Clarke County 13 5 8 4 – 30
T.R. Miller 10 10 11 13 – 44
CLARKE COUNTY (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Armstead 2-3-0-13; McConti 5-0-0-10; Welch 2-0-0-4; Robinson 1-0-0-2; Horn 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 10-3-1-30)
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Andrews 4-0-2-10; Brooks 4-0-1-9; Stallworth 3-0-1-7; Cunningham 3-0-0-6; Ter. Walker 3-0-0-6; Jer. Knight 2-0-0-4; Payne 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 20-0-4-44)
Tigers rally past Flomaton
T.R. Miller hit double digits in the win column Friday when it rallied for a 56-45 road win over the Flomaton Hurricanes.
The Tigers (10-3) trailed most of the way until the middle part of the third quarter when they began their decisive stretch of play.
"This has always been a tough place to play. It may not be an Area game, but it's a good rivalry game for us. Flomaton has improved quite a bit since beat them at the county tournament," T.R. Miller coach Rob Atkinson.
A puzzling thing about the Tigers performance was they held Flomaton leading scorer C.J. Williams to just four points, about 10 below his season. However, teammate Clay Simpson stepped up with a game high 26.
"If you had told me ahead of time we would have held Williams to four points, I would have expected a much easier game. I don't think Simpson missed a shot, one at the most. He had a tremendous game," Atkinson said.
While T.R. Miller had its problems with Simpson, the Tigers' defense as a whole came up big down the stretch.
After Simpson scored with 1:25 left in the third quarter and brought the Hurricanes (8-7) within 36-35, T.R. Miller surrendered just four points (two field goals) over the next nine minutes.
Seniors Damien Jackson and Tye Walker gave T.R. Miller the spark it needed to overcome a 22-19 halftime deficit.
Jackson scored nine of his 21 points in the third quarter. Most of that production came in T.R. Miller's 17-9 run that closed out the third quarter and put the Tigers on top 42-35.
Walker's availability was limited after some health concerns from earlier in the day. Yet Walker still was in the game long enough to chip in nine points, come up with three steals and dish out four assists.
"Tye just makes a lot of things happen, not just with his scoring," Atkinson said.
Walker had two key assists to Wade Jackson and added a free throw in T.R. Miller's 10-4 run that began the fourth quarter and knocked the lead up to a game high margin of 52-39.
T.R. Miller's junior varsity ran its season mark to 6-1 Friday with a 36-14 victory at Flomaton.
Brandon Andrews tallied 15 points to pace T.R. Miller.
The Tigers travel to W.S. Neal Tuesday for an Area 1 game. Action gets underway at 5 p.m. with the junior varsity game. Original T.R. Miller schedules had the game starting at 4:30 p.m.
At Flomaton
T.R. Miller 9 10 23 14 – 56
Flomaton 12 10 13 10 – 45
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) D. Jackson 7-2-1-21; W. Jackson 4-0-1-9; Ty. Walker 4-0-1-9; Lucas 3-0-0-6; Daugherty 0-0-4-4; Byrd 1-0-2-4; Samuel 1-0-0-2; Arauz 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 20-2-10-56)
FLOMATON (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Simpson 6-3-5-26; Bonds 3-0-0-6; Bush 2-0-1-5; Williams 0-1-1-4; Lambeth 0-1-0-3; Herndon 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 13-5-4-45)
Junior varsity
T.R. Miller 4 11 8 13 – 36
Flomaton 5 4 2 3 – 14
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Andrews 6-1-0-15; Brooks 2-0-0-4; Ter. Walker 0-1-1-4; Jer. Knight 1-0-2-4; Stallworth 2-0-0-4; Fountain 1-0-0-2; Cunningham 1-0-0-2; Hardy 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 13-2-4-36)
FLOMATON (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Turner 3-0-0-6; Ellis 1-0-1-3; Wood 1-0-0-2; McMath 1-0-0-2; Bell 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 6-0-2-14)