Tigers come up short at Hillcrest
By By BRUCE HIXON – Sports Editor
A year from now such a loss will have a lot more long-range ramifications because both T.R. Miller and Hillcrest-Evergreen will become Class 4A Area 1 opponents.
For now, the Tigers are left with the frustrating “close, but no cigar” with Saturday's 36-31 road loss to the Jaguars.
Even though Hillcrest has struggled a bit this season in terms of record (7-9), the Jaguars figured to a tall order, literally, for the Tigers to tackle with a front line of 6-5 Justin Holder, 6-5 Nick Lovelace and 6-7 Chris Hines.
Despite the Jaguars' size, the Tigers were able to get the pace of the game slowed way down. T.R. Miller (8-9) had as much as a five-point lead in the second half and missed a pair of opportunities in the game's final minute to take the lead.
With Hillcrest owning such a big advantage inside, the last thing the Tigers wanted Hillcrest to have was an effective outside game. That is exactly what materialized when Cleveland Knight hit a pair of three-pointers and Holder had another trey. Their production got the Jaguars out to a 12-6 lead.
After a defensive switch, T.R. Miller was able to hold the Hillcrest offense in check most of the remainder of the game.
Meanwhile the Tigers' offense was slowly able to peck away at the Jaguars. T.R. Miller, which trailed 14-10 at the end of the first quarter, pulled even at 14-14 in the opening minute of the second quarter on two free throws by Laine Lucas and a hoop by Wade Jackson.
After Hillcrest regained its four-point edge with hoops by P.K. Riley and Lovelace, T.R. Miller rallied to take its first lead of the game when a pair of free throws by Jackson and three charity tosses by Terrelle Brooks put the Tigers up 19-18.
After Hines put Hillcrest back in front with a field goal with 19 seconds left in the half, T.R. Miller got a bucket from Jordan Knight off an assist from Brooks with just five tenths of one second left in the half to take a 21-20 lead at the midway point.
T.R. Miller took its biggest lead of the game in the first three minutes of the second half when buckets by Jordan Knight, and Brooks with two free throws by Jackson squeezed in between extended the advantage to 27-22. The Tigers scored just four more points over the last 13 minutes.
The Jaguars scored the last six points of the third quarter to move back in front and a basket by Holder a minute into the fourth quarter put the Jaguars up 30-27.
Jordan Knight's two field goals accounted for all of T.R. Miller's fourth quarter offense. Both field goals pulled the Tigers to within a point, the last of which pulled T.R. Miller to within 32-31 with 2:40 left.
It was still 32-31 with just over a minute to go. Over the next 30 seconds the Tigers had two chances to take the lead, but came up empty on both when Brooks came up empty on a field goal attempt and Jordan Knight was called for a defensive five-second violation.
Two free throws by Hines with 32 seconds left extended Hillcrest's lead to 34-31. The Tigers' offense then came up empty again when Terrence Walker and Jordan Knight came up empty on shot attempts.
T.R. Miller's last hope disappeared when Holder missed the front end of a one-and-one with 17 seconds left, but Hines got the offensive rebound. Hines was fouled and hit two free throws with 12 seconds left to make it a two-possession lead of 36-31.
The Tigers junior varsity overcame a two-point first quarter and squeaked by Hillcrest 39-37.
Terry Hetherington netted 11 points to pace T.R. Miller (7-1), while Teras Fountain and David Payne each added seven.
The Tigers, who hosted W.S. Neal Tuesday, will try to avenge last week's Area 1 loss to Clarke County Friday when they host the Bulldogs.
T.R. Miller 10 11 6 4 – 31
Hillcrest 14 6 8 8 – 36
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Jo. Knight 5-0-0-10; Jackson 0-1-5-8; Brooks 2-0-3-7; Walker 1-0-0-2; Lucas 0-0-2-2; Stallworth 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 9-1-10-31)
HILLCREST (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Hines 3-0-6-12; Holder 4-1-0-11; Knight 0-2-0-6; Lovelace 2-0-0-4; Riley 1-0-0-2; Bryant 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 10-3-7-36)
T.R. Miller 2 12 11 14 – 39
Hillcrest 4 10 12 11 – 37
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Hetherington 1-1-6-11; Fountain 2-0-3-7; D. Payne 3-0-1-7; Watson 3-0-0-6; Powell 3-0-0-6; Lane 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 13-1-10-39)
HILLCREST (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Salter 4-0-0-8; Dees 4-0-0-8; Thomas 2-1-0-7; Bullock 2-0-0-4; Rudolph 2-0-0-4; Watson 0-1-0-3; Lark 1-0-0-2; Gross 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 15-2-1-37)