Mobile, here we come!
By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
For most people in this area, it only takes a couple of hours to get to Mobile.
For T.R. Miller Tigers coach Rob Atkinson, it has been a journey six years in the making. For the T.R. Miller Tigers basketball program, it has been nine years in the works.
Both Atkinson and the Tigers finally reached their destination Friday when T.R. Miller claimed a 61-51 Class 3A sub-regional victory on its home court over the Aliceville Yellow Jackets.
The Tigers had been knocked out at the sub-regional round four years in a row. Friday's win sends them to the regional for the first time since the 1995-96 season.
See TIGERS Page 8
Leeds. "Playing at 10:30 a.m. will be different for us, but we'd play at 4 a.m. if they told us to do so. We're happy to be going, but we're not just satisfied with being there. We're going with the intention of winning."
Two key areas stand out in the Tigers' victory. First, T.R. Miller (19-8) outscored Aliceville (10-11) 20-0 at the free throw line. The Tigers got three "free points" during the contest. Gerald Banton made an extra free throw attempt he was awarded after a miss due to a lane violation on Aliceville. Later in the game Damien Jackson nailed two technical foul shots.
The second key item in the win was the play by sophomore guard Wade Jackson, who matched Damien Jackson's game high 19 points. Among Wade Jackson's total was an 11-for-12 effort at the free throw line and two big three-pointers.
After two brief lead exchanges early in the first quarter, T.R. Miller never trailed the rest of the way.
Aliceville took its last lead midway through the first quarter when back-to-back buckets by Emmitt Walker put the Yellow Jackets on top 8-5.
The Tigers quickly reclaimed the lead, as they closed out the frame with a bucket by Laine Lucas and two field goals by Gerald Banton to move in front 11-8.
T.R. Miller took its biggest lead of the first half midway through the second quarter, when Damien Jackson drove in for a score and extended the Tigers' advantage to 21-13 at that point.
The Tigers later matched that first half high lead at 25-17 after a trey by Damien Jackson although Aliceville narrowed that cushion to 27-21 by halftime.
Still down six points early in the third quarter, the Yellow Jackets got an offensive rebound basket by Chris Walker and a pair of three-pointers by Ken Cousette. The latter of Cousette's treys tied the game at 33-33.
Instead of folding under the pressure, T.R. Miller responded to that threat with a key 14-2 run that extended into the early moments of the fourth quarter.
Wade Jackson quickly snapped the deadlock with a three-pointer that put T.R. Miller back in front.
After a bucket by Chris Walker brought the Yellow Jackets to within appoint, T.R. Miller closed out the quarter with a basket by Chris Byrd, a three-pointer by Damien Jackson, an inside-the-lane bucket by Banton and a bucket by Damien Jackson off an assist from Tye Walker on an inbounds play.
The Tigers ended the third quarter with a 45-35 lead and two free throws by Wade Jackson early in the final frame knocked that lead up to 12 points.
Aliceville was not done yet. A pair of buckets by Keith Hughes and Donald Myaa and another field goal by Marice Jones shaved the Tigers' lead to 49-45 with nearly three and a half minutes still left. It dropped to just 54-51 two minutes later when Myaa hit a jumper from the top of the lane.
Over the final minute T.R. Miller shut the door at the free throw line where Wade Jackson was a perfect six-for-six and Lucas also added a charity toss.
Next up for T.R. Miller is a Leeds team, which is ranked 10th in the state, that downed Northside 68-46 in its sub-regional game. Leeds sports a 23-10 record. Sumter County (22-5) will take on Midfield (21-9) in the other regional semifinal. The two winners will return Saturday for the championship.
At T.R. Miller
Aliceville 8 13 14 16 – 51
T.R. Miller 11 16 18 16 – 61
ALICEVILLE (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Cousette 1-3-0-11; Hall 5-0-0-10; Taylor 3-0-0-6; E. Walker 3-0-0-6; Myaa 3-0-0-6; C. Walker 2-0-0-4; Hughes 2-0-0-4; M. Jones 1-0-0-2; T. Jones 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 21-3-0-51)
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) W. Jackson 1-2-11-19; D. Jackson 3-3-4-19; Lucas 4-0-2-10; Banton 3-0-2-8; Byrd 1-0-0-2; Andrews 1-0-0-2; Ty. Walker 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 13-5-20-61)