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Tigers lose Area lead at Clarke County

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
It could have been a night where the T.R. Miller Tigers took a stranglehold on the Class 3A Area 1 race.
Instead Friday's 57-47 road loss to the Clarke County Bulldogs put T.R. Miller in position where it probably needs to run the table and get some help if it is to get the top seed and the right to host next month's Area Tournament.
Actually both the Tigers (11-4 overall and 2-1 in the Area) and Clarke County (9-8 overall and 3-1 in the Area) have some work to do before a potential coin toss would be necessary. Straughn is undefeated in the Area although the Tigers just started their Area season Friday with a win over W.S. Neal. Straughn still has five Area games left to play including two each against T.R. Miller and Clarke County. Straughn plays at T.R. Miller Tuesday.
While Friday's loss was the first one on the court last week for T.R. Miller, it was their second setback of the week. Atkinson said senior forward Tye Walker was probably done for the season after he sustained a knee injury in a victory over W.S. Neal Tuesday.
T.R. Miller, which defeated Clarke County 50-40 at Brewton 10 days earlier, never led in Friday's rematch.
The Bulldogs got off to a blistering pace that saw them hit 11 of their first 18 shots (62 percent) and rack up 38 first half points.
The only time Clarke County did not lead came after Wade Jackson hit two free throws that brought T.R. Miller even at 14-14 with two minutes left in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs took a 19-16 lead at the end of the first quarter and bumped it up to 38-26 by halftime from both its perimeter and interior attack.
Guard Ben Burroughs buried four first half three-pointers. Post players Brandon Powell and Jonathan Horn took turns with big quarters in the first half. Powell helped get the Bulldogs going with an eight-point first quarter, while Horn stepped up with nine in the second frame.
As hot as Clarke County was in the first half, the Bulldogs were equally cold in the second half. In fact, Clarke County had a stretch of 13 consecutive missed shots and made just two field goals in the second half.
That opened the door for a T.R. Miller comeback. Gerald Banton had a pair of free throws and two fastbreak layups in the first two minutes of the third quarter that chopped the 12-point halftime deficit in half to 38-32.
Banton also ended the quarter with a bucket and a free throw that narrowed Clarke County's cushion to 42-37.
The Bulldogs scored just six points in the first 13 minutes of the second half until Kenneth Kimbrough scored from inside the lane and Horn added two free throws that knocked the lead up to 48-39 with just over two minutes left.
Just when it seemed the door had shut on the Tigers, they opened it thanks to Damien Jackson. Jackson buried an NBA-range three-pointer, hit a free throw and buried another trey after a key offensive rebound by Laine Lucas that suddenly had T.R. Miller within 49-46 with 1:36 still left.
The Tigers would score just one free throw the rest of the way and Clarke County finished things off with eight successful charity line tosses in 10 attempts.
It was also not a good night for the T.R. Miller junior varsity, which suffered just its second defeat of the season when it fell to Clarke County 36-29.
Brandon Andrews led T.R. Miller (7-2) with 11 points, while Jeremy Knight added eight.
At Clarke County
T.R. Miller 16 10 11 10 – 47
Clarke County 19 19 4 15 – 57
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Banton 6-0-3-15; D. Jackson 2-3-1-14; W. Jackson 2-0-3-7; Byrd 2-0-0-4; Lucas 2-0-0-4; Brooks 1-0-1-3 (Totals: 15-3-8-47)
CLARKE COUNTY (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Horn 4-0-8-16; B. Burroughs 0-4-0-12; Powell 3-0-3-9; Kimbrough 2-0-2-6; Owens 1-0-3-5; Taite 0-1-0-3; Smith 1-0-1-3; Morris 0-0-2-2; Williams 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 11-5-20-57)
See TIGERS Page 8
At Clarke County
T.R. Miller 5 7 7 10 – 29
Clarke County 6 11 5 14 – 36
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Andrews 3-1-2-11; Jer. Knight 4-0-0-8; Stallworth 2-0-0-4; Fountain 2-0-0-4; Cunningham 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 12-1-2-29)
CLARKE COUNTY (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Pendleton 7-0-1-15; McCorci 3-0-1-7; Andrews 0-1-1-4; Armstead 0-1-0-3; Robinson 0-0-2-2; Welch 1-0-0-2; McConnell 1-0-0-2; Staple 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 12-2-6-36)
Tuesday's game
Both the Tigers and W.S. Neal found points hard to come by, but they were a little tougher to come by for the Blue Eagles in the Tigers' 41-25 victory at East Brewton Tuesday.
It was T.R. Miller's third victory of the season against W.S. Neal with at least one more regular season matchup and possibly a postseason meeting yet to come.
Both teams were plagued by poor shooting. T.R. Miller (11-3 overall and 2-0 in Class 3A Area 1) shot just 29 percent (11-for-38) from the field, while W.S. Neal (2-13 overall and 0-3 in Class 3A Area 1) connected on just 25 percent (eight-for-33).
An oddity about the Blue Eagles' percentage is they actually shot 50 percent from the field in the first half, yet trailed 26-12 at the midway point. That is because W.S. Neal was able to attempt just eight shots due to 20 turnovers.
Ten turnovers limited the Blue Eagles to just one field goal and only three shot attempts in the first quarter when T.R. Miller built a 13-3 lead.
Wade Jackson drilled a three-pointer, Gerald Banton scored off a steal by Damien Jackson and George Arauz scored off an assist from Chris Byrd to help that initial run. The rest of the Tigers' production came from the free throw line where they were only six-for-13.
T.R. Miller's lead went up to 16-3 after a free throw by Wade Jackson early in the first quarter and up to a first half high of 22-7 when Damien Jackson turned a steal into a layup.
If one series summed up the night for W.S. Neal, it was its opening offensive possession of the second half.
After the Blue Eagles got just eight shot attempts in the first half, they had six cracks at the bucket on their first possession of the third quarter. They missed all six shots.
A steal and layup by Laine Lucas took the lead up to 28-12 when the Blue Eagles made their only real run at the Tigers.
B.J. McMillan converted a three-point play and Jared Cooper scored on an offensive rebound that cut T.R. Miller's cushion to 28-17 with better than four minutes left in the third quarter.
A three-pointer by Chris Byrd and a basket by Gerald Banton helped T.R. Miller regain that 16-point edge at 33-17 by the time the quarter ended. The Tigers then took as much as an 18-point lead on three occasions in the fourth quarter, the last of which was a 41-23 edge in the final minute after Banton hit two free throws.
While it was his team's third loss against T.R. Miller, McCollum saw some progress by his team.
T.R. Miller's junior varsity cruised to a 40-16 victory over the Blue Eagles.
Brandon Samuel racked up 11 points to pace the Tigers (7-1), while Brandon Andrews added 10. Johnathan Alexander topped W.S. Neal (4-5) with seven.
At W.S. Neal
T.R. Miller 13 13 7 8 – 41
W.S. Neal 3 9 5 8 – 25
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) W. Jackson 3-1-5-14; Lucas 2-0-6-10; Banton 2-0-5-9; Byrd 0-1-0-3; D. Jackson 1-0-1-3; Arauz 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 9-2-17-41)
W.S. NEAL (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) McMillian 1-1-1-6; Williamson 2-0-1-5; Hester 1-0-2-4; Ron. Travis 1-0-1-3; Cooper 1-0-0-2; Green 1-0-0-2; Madison 0-0-1-1; Roh. Travis 0-0-1-1; Thomas 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 7-1-8-25)
Junior varsity
T.R. Miller 11 6 9 14 – 40
W.S. Neal 6 2 5 3 – 16
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Samuel 4-0-3-11; Andrews 5-0-0-10; Ter. Walker 3-0-0-6; Payne 1-0-0-2; Jer. Knight 0-0-2-2 (Totals: 17-0-6-34)
W.S. NEAL (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Alexander 3-0-1-7; Lambert 2-0-1-5; Bradley 1-0-0-2; Boyd 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 7-0-2-16)