Lady Tigers looking to get state respect

Published 6:56 pm Wednesday, February 23, 2005

By Staff
They own the best record in the state in their class. They have a 16-game winning streak. Nobody in Alabama has beaten them and only one Alabama team (Clarke County by five in the Area Tournament championship game) has come within single digits of them.
Yet it seems like the T.R. Miller Lady Tigers basketball team may not be getting as much respect as it probably deserves.
Despite its regular season accomplishments and having four starters back from last year's state runner-up team, the Lady Tigers have not been ranked higher than fourth in the Class 3A state rankings by the Alabama Sports Writers Association.
T.R. Miller was still ranked fourth in the final poll of the season behind top-ranked Pisgah (26-3), second-ranked Barbour County (19-5) and third-ranked and defending state champion Abbeville (19-6).
The lone loss the Lady Tigers (28-1) have suffered this season came in overtime against Pensacola, a school about five times the enrollment of T.R. Miller.
Jackson said getting overlooked in the state polls is nothing new for his program.
Jackson said there is only one way to justify his team's possible oversight in the rankings.
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Tigers coach Rob Atkinson said his team's regional berth has some hidden value.
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least another six days. The kids in the programs that have been eliminated have moved on to other activities," Atkinson said. "At this point of the season, we're riding our senior starters Damien Jackson, Tye Walker and Gerald Banton along with reserves George Arauz and A.J. Daugherty as far as we can. Getting to the regional is so important to our younger kids in the program. In addition to getting some extra practice time, they now see what it takes to get to the regional. It should make them hungry to get back there. Hopefully getting to the regional is a habit our program can start to get into doing."
Atkinson gives a lot of credit to T.R. Miller's regional berth to the return of senior Tye Walker.
The Tigers were rolling along with an 11-3 record when Walker went down in January at W.S. Neal in what was feared to be a season-ending knee injury.
Walker missed the next five games before he returned to limited duty at Straughn. Since then his work load has steadily increased despite having to play with a knee brace. The Tigers went 2-3 in Walker's absence, but have gone 6-2 since his return.
Include the season opener at Escambia County when Walker along with most of the starting lineup were gone due to football playoffs, the Tigers have gone 17-4 with Walker on the floor and 2-4 without him.