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Jay pulls rug out under Tigers

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
It was not the same Jay team the T.R. Miller Tigers had smashed 54-29 in Brewton back in December. Then again, it was not the same team the Tigers fielded in that contest either.
Jay played that first meeting without the services of Brandon Haveard. With Haveard and his team high 18 points, the Royals made a 27-point turnaround and posted a 64-62 triumph in Florida Saturday.
Personnel aside, the Tigers (13-5) had plenty of other reasons why they suffered just their third loss in 14 games.
A big item was free throws. T.R. Miller, which had hit 50 of 71 attempts (71 percent) in its two previous games against W.S. Neal and Straughn, connected on just 14 of 25 attempts against Jay (56 percent). Meanwhile the Royals were a much more effective 75 percent from the free throw line (18-for-24).
The Tigers' sluggish performance in the second quarter was also a big contributor. T.R. Miller actually outscored Jay (10-7) in three of the four quarters, but the Tigers missed nine straight shots and scored just one free throw in the first five minutes of the second quarter, a frame Jay outscored them 21-11.
T.R. Miller wasted a career best night from senior Damien Jackson, who lit up the Royals for 28 points, two more than his previous career best of 26 set at Monroe County back in December and matched Friday against W.S. Neal. Jackson buried seven three-pointers, just one shy of the school record of eight set by Logan Lucas backing 2000.
A trey and fastbreak bucket by Damien Jackson and two field goals by Brandon Samuel enabled T.R. Miller to take three four-point leads in the opening frame, the last at 14-10.
Samuel's offensive rebound bucket with 40 seconds left in the first quarter were the last points the Tigers scored until Samuel connected on a charity toss with just under four minutes left in the second quarter.
By that time Jay's Brad Lowery had fueled a 10-0 run with a trio of hoops, one of which led to a three-point play, that put the Royals up 22-14.
Damien Jackson finally ended T.R. Miller's field goal drought with a three-pointer and then caught fire over the last three minutes of the first half with another trey and two fastbreak layups.
Despite his production, Jay extended its lead up to as many as 11 points on two occasions in the second quarter and took a 33-25 lead into halftime.
After Haveard scored at the start of the third quarter and put the Royals' lead back into double digits at 35-25, T.R. Miller stormed back in not much more than a blink of an eye.
In just over a minute, Gerald Banton and Lucas both converted three-point plays and Wade Jackson hit a three-pointer that quickly cut the Royals' lead to just 35-34.
The Tigers had a tough time taking that next step. Jay built its lead back up to 53-47 by the end of the third quarter before T.R. Miller made another surge.
With the Royals up 55-50, Damien Jackson turned his own steal into a three-pointer. Then on the Royals' next possession, Lucas came up with a steal and Damien Jackson also finished it with a three-pointer. That trey gave T.R. Miller a 56-55 lead, its first advantage since late in the first quarter.
After three lead exchanges and two deadlocks, Jay's Michael Wade put the Royals ahead for good when he scored off an offensive rebound with 36 seconds left and put the home team up 64-62.
The Tigers worked the clock for the final possession. After a timeout with 12 seconds left, T.R. Miller's last attempt turned
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out to be a desperation air ball by Wade Jackson from the corner at the buzzer.
The Tigers junior varsity made their night a successful one with a 42-25 win over the Royals.
Brandon Andrews collected 13 points to pace T.R. Miller, while Briddell Jones and Jeremy Knight each had eight.
The Tigers, who hosted Escambia County Tuesday, travel to Straughn Friday for a key Class 3A Area 1 contest. T.R. Miller must win in order to gain a share of the Area regular season championship. The Tigers will also be out on the road again Saturday at Greenville.
At Jay
T.R. Miller 14 11 22 15 – 62
Jay 12 21 20 11 – 64
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) D. Jackson 3-7-1-28; Banton 4-0-2-10; Lucas 3-0-2-8; Byrd 0-0-6-6; Samuel 2-0-1-5; Samuel 2-0-1-5 (Totals; 12-8-14-62)
JAY (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Haveard 5-2-2-18; Taylor 4-0-8-16; Lowery 5-0-5-15; Wade 3-0-1-7; Weaver 0-0-2-2; Hendrick 1-0-0-2; Patrick 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 19-2-18-64)
Junior varsity
T.R. Miller 19 11 6 6 – 42
Jay 8 4 6 7 – 25
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Andrews 6-0-1-13; Jer. Knight 4-0-0-8; Jones 4-0-0-8; Ter. Walker 3-0-1-7; Stallworth 2-0-0-4; Cunningham 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 20-0-2-42)
JAY (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Castleberry 6-0-0-12; Swick 1-1-0-5; Brabham 1-0-1-3; Nelson 0-1-0-3; Sasser 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 9-2-1-25)