Too much size, too much Leeds end Tigers year
By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
They threw everything at Leeds except the kitchen sink and even that probably would not have done the T.R. Miller Tigers any good.
The Green Wave's huge size advantage and talent depth simply overwhelmed the Tigers 68-26 in Thursday's opening round of the Class 3A Southwest Regional held at the University of South Alabama in Mobile.
T.R. Miller was unable to match up against Leeds' twin towers of 6-9 senior and Auburn recruit Joey Cameron and 6-8 junior Joey Taylor. Green Wave starters Corderro Robbins (6-3) and Jeremy Glover (6-4) were also taller than any Tiger starter.
"We tried everything, but nothing worked. We just couldn't match up with them because of the size or their talent. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap and compliment your opponent," T.R. Miller coach Rob Atkinson said. "Their program has been here (to the regional) a lot in recent years and it's a new experience for our kids. Our goal this season was to get to Mobile and the regional and we achieved that. They showed we've long way to go before we are a Birmingham (state tournament) team."
T.R. Miller (19-9) hit just 18 percent of its field goal attempts (nine-for-50), was outrebounded 46-30 and committed 16 turnovers.
"We were expecting T.R. Miller to slow the tempo down because of our size, but instead they pushed it. Once we got ahead of them a little bit, they had no choice but to keep the game at a fast pace because they needed points in a hurry," Leeds coach Michael Turner said.
While it was the Green Wave's size that ultimately led to the Tigers' downfall, it was Leeds' perimeter game that sunk T.R. Miller in the early going.
With Leeds (24-10) up just 5-3 three minutes into the game, the Green Wave got a pair of three-pointers from Glover that forced the Tigers to have to extend their zone defense. Meanwhile Cameron also scored twice, one from inside and once from just inside the three-point arc. Just like that the Green Wave had a double digit lead of 15-5 with better than two minutes left in the first quarter.
Laine Lucas hit a baseline jumper with a minute left in the first quarter that cut the Leeds' advantage to single digits for the final time at 15-7.
T.R. Miller was able to play Leeds on near even terms for the next six minutes when the game started to slip away.
The Tigers had just cut the gap to 22-11 on Brandon Samuel's offensive rebound bucket with two minutes left in the half. Then came a bucket by Cameron and two hoops by Taylor with a free throw by Damien Jackson squeezed in between.
The real killer and perhaps the final backbreaker came when Robbins hit a long three-pointer on the run at the halftime buzzer that swelled Leeds' cushion to 31-13.
Lucas hit a pair of buckets, one a three-pointer, in the first two minutes of the third period that kept the gap at 18 points before the Green Wave went on a 25-0 romp over a 11-minute span. By the time Brandon Andrews ended the long Leeds' surge, the Green Wave's advantage had swelled to 61-18.
"Regardless of the outcome, this was still a great experience for our kids and our program. We got to play all our young kids we brought and they got a taste of what this level of basketball is like. This was a good year for us. We won 19 games," Atkinson said.
Atkinson jokingly said he wanted no part of the 10 teams that beat Leeds.
"No thanks. This one was bad enough," Atkinson said.
While T.R. Miller's season came to an end with the loss, Leeds advanced to Saturday's regional title game against top-ranked Sumter County. Sumter County (23-5) earned its berth in the title game with a 50-32 win over Midfield (21-10).
T.R. Miller 7 6 5 8 – 26
Leeds 15 16 15 22 – 68
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Lucas 2-1-0-7; Andrews 0-2-0-6; D. Jackson 1-0-3-5; Banton 1-0-1-3; Stallworth 1-0-0-2; Samuel 1-0-0-2; Ty. Walker 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 6-3-5-26)
LEEDS (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Cameron 8-0-5-21; Glover 2-2-1-11; Taylor 4-0-1-9; Robbins 2-1-0-7; Pickett 3-0-0-6; Tillman 2-0-1-5; Laster 2-0-0-4; Rowser 1-0-0-2; Tice 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 25-3-9-68)