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Area tournament crown a perfect fit for Tigers

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
By BRUCE HIXON
Sports Editor
Just like Dorothy's wish in the Wizard of Oz, the T.R. Miller Tigers proved you can go home again.
The Tigers earned a ticket back home for the sub-regional round when they claimed the Class 3A Area 1 Tournament championship at Clarke County Monday with a 57-47 win over the host Bulldogs.
Monday's battle was the rubber match between the teams after each won on its home court in the two regular season meetings.
Most of that effort was centered on the defensive side where the Tigers (18-8) frustrated the Bulldogs (15-11) all night long.
See TIGERS Page 9A
the key to the game," Atkinson said. "This probably was not the best game we have played although it was close. I do think this was the most intense we've played in a game this season."
T.R. Miller never trailed after it fell it behind 4-2 in the opening minute, but it was never able to separate itself from the Bulldogs until late in the game.
The Tigers strung together a 9-0 run in the opening quarter on two hoops by Chris Byrd, a three-point play by tournament most valuable player Damien Jackson and single field goals by Gerald Banton and Wade Jackson to open up an 11-4 lead.
Sparked by three buckets by Brandon Powell and a hoop and free throw by Brad Morris, he Bulldogs were able to wipe out that lead and pull even at 15-15 by the time the quarter ended.
The second period followed a similar pattern. T.R. Miller opened the frame with a bucket and free throw by both Laine Lucas and Byrd and moved back in front 21-15.
By the time the period wound down, Clarke County had cut the lead to just 22-21 on Ken Kimbrough's field goal in the final minute.
Up by a slim 31-29 margin midway through the third quarter, T.R. Miller was finally able to open up a little breathing room. Buckets by Tye Walker and Damien Jackson and two free throws by Wade Jackson and Lucas keyed an 8-2 run that put the Tigers up 39-31.
That cushion melted to just 39-35 by the end of the quarter and down to just 41-38 on DeWayne Owens' three-pointer two minutes into the fourth quarter.
A couple of key buckets by Lucas extended the lea dup to seven points and Walker's field goal with four minutes left gave T.R. Miller its biggest lead of the game up to that point at 49-40.
Clarke County had had trimmed that lead to 49-44 with three minutes left and had the ball when Byrd came up with a huge steal. That led to a free throw by Wade Jackson that put the lea dup to six points. Lucas then followed with another steal, which led to a field goal by Damien Jackson and pushed the lead up to 52-44 with 1:21 left.
Next up for T.R. Miller is Friday's sub-regional home game at 7 p.m. where it will take on Aliceville. Aliceville finished runner-up out of Area 6 after it fell to the state's to-ranked team, Sumter County, 88-41 in that championship game.
Friday's winner will advance to the Southwest Regional at Mobile next Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. against the Northside-Leeds winner.
At Clarke County
T.R. Miller 15 7 17 18 – 57
Clarke County 15 6 14 12 – 47
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) W. Jackson 3-1-5-14; Lucas 4-0-4-12; Byrd 4-0-3-11; D. Jackson 3-0-4-10; Banton 2-0-2-6; Ty. Walker 2-0-0-4 (Totals: 18-1-18-57)
CLARKE COUNTY (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Taite 3-2-1-13; Powell 5-0-1-11; Kimbrough 4-0-0-8; Morris 2-0-3-7; Owens 0-1-0-3; Burroughs 1-0-1-3; Horn 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 16-3-6-47)