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Basketball Tigers start season on rocky note

By By BRUCE HIXON – Sports Editor
If surprise was Escambia County's best weapon, that surprise came in the person of Calvin Hartley.
Hartley drained four three-pointers and fired in a game high 25 points to lead the Blue Devils to a 68-48 win at T.R. Miller Monday in the opening game of the season for the Tigers.
"We've seen Hartley play a lot the last couple of years and we've never seen him shoot like that before. Hats off to him," said T.R. Miller coach Rob Atkinson, whose club dropped its sixth straight decision to the Blue Devils since an opening day victory two years ago.
Hartley's production was just part of the Tigers' problems. Escambia County hit nine three-pointers for the game and its defense forced T.R. Miller into 21 turnovers. The Tigers also missed nine of their 20 free throw attempts.
"Perimeter scoring was a big part of the game. They got 27 points off threes and we hit one three," Atkinson said. "Our overall defense wasn't very good. Many of those threes came on wide open looks and we gave up too many offensive rebounds and too many put-backs inside."
Escambia County hit four of its three-pointers in the first four minutes of the game, two by Quartez James and one each by Hartley and Chris Andrews, when it opened up a 14-6 lead.
Two minutes later that lead hit double digits when James scored from inside the lane to make it 20-10.
Sophomore Jordan Knight tried to keep T.R. Miller within striking distance. Knight had 14 of his 20 points in the opening frame. The last of his six first quarter field goals trimmed Escambia County's lead to 22-17 by the end of the quarter.
The first four minutes of the second quarter was a key stretch in the game, as a three-pointer by James and a couple buckets from down low by Larry Bowens triggered an 11-2 run that bumped the gap up to a first half high of 33-19.
A late first half surge by the Tigers cut the gap to single digits, as an offensive rebound bucket by Corey Cunningham trimmed the Blue Devils' advantage to 35-26.
T.R. Miller got as close as 37-30 with five minutes left in the third quarter when Wade Jackson scored after he drove the length of the court after a steal.
Over the next minute that gap was doubled from seven to 14 points, as Hartley had a field goal from down low and a three-pointer from outside with an offensive rebound basket by Frank Taylor squeezed in between.
Hartley had 11 of his points in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter, as Escambia County went on a 16-4 run that ran its lead from 50-37 to 66-41.
T.R. Miller's junior varsity held on for a 39-38 victory over Escambia County in its season opener. Terry Hetherington led the Tigers with 12 points, while Michael Arauz, David Payne and Teras Fountain all had seven.
T.R. Miller, which played at Jay (Fla.) Tuesday, is back in action next Tuesday when it hosts Northview (Fla.). Play gets started with the JV game at 4:30 p.m.
Varsity
Escambia Co. 22 13 15 18 – 68
T.R. Miller 17 9 11 11 – 48
ESCAMBIA COUNTY (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Hartley 6-4-1-25;
See OPENER Page 11A
James 1-4-2-16; Bowens 5-0-0-10; Taylor 3-0-2-8; Andrews 1-1-0-5; Johnson 1-0-2-4 (Totals: 17-9-7-68)
T.R. MILLER( 2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Jo. Knight 8-0-4-20; Jackson 2-1-2-9; Andrews 3-0-2-8; Brooks 2-0-1-5; Cunningham 2-0-0-4; Curry 0-0-2-2 (Totals: 17-1-11-48)
Junior varsity
Escambia County 6 13 9 10 – 38
T.R. Miller 4 14 16 5 – 39
ESCAMBIA COUNTY (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Johnson 4-3-3-20; Ferrell 4-0-0-8; Richardson 2-0-2-6; Riley 1-0-0-2; Montgomery 1-0-0-2; Webster 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 13-3-3-38)
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Hetherington 3-0-6-12; Payne 3-0-1-7; Fountain 3-0-1-7; Arauz 3-0-1-7; Lane 2-0-0-4; Powell 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 15-0-9-39)