Lady Tigers roll into Area final
By By BRUCE HIXON – Sports Editor
It was not a perfect start for the T.R. Miller Lady Tigers. After all, they did miss two of their first 16 shots and they did allow the W.S. Neal Lady Blue Eagles to score.
The mistakes were few and far between though, as T.R. Miller overwhelmed its Murder Creek rival 54-9 in the first half on its way to a 78-28 romp in Thursday's opening round of the Class 3A Area 1 Tournament played at T.R. Miller.
The result was a far cry from their last encounter back on January 20 where the Lady Blue Eagles led late in the first half and were within single digits halfway through the fourth quarter before they succumbed 56-42.
It was the defense by the top-seeded Lady Tigers (25-4) that set the tone for the game. T.R. Miller limited the Lady Blue Eagles (6-21) to just three first half field goals and forced W.S. Neal into 16 first half turnovers.
Yet perhaps the most telling statistic from that first half came in the number of field goal attempts where T.R. Miller got off 37 shots (and hit 24 for 65 percent) as compared to just nine shots for W.S. Neal.
The Lady Tigers took control right off the bat when they scored the game's first nine points on a pair of buckets by Joy McCorvey, a three-point play by Jasmine Sanford and a hoop by Donya Grice.
While a free throw by W.S. Neal's Tiara Matthews snapped that string, T.R. Miller promptly answered with three hoops by Sanford and a field goal by Zykeya Barton to take a 17-1 lead five and a half minutes into the game.
The Lady Tigers hit 12 of 14 field goal attempts in that opening quarter on their way to a 26-5 lead. They then hit their first two shots of the second quarter courtesy of Keya Peterson and Grice that made it 30-5.
After W.S. Neal's Tierra Andrews, who was held to 10 points after a 29-point outburst in the last meeting between the teams, scored with six minutes left in the half to make it 32-9, T.R. Miller ended the half on a 22-0 blitz.
While Sanford and McCorvey played their usual role in the surge with 18 and 12 points respectively in the first half, the Lady Tigers also got production from their bench. In fact, T.R. Miller's last seven points of the first half came from a bucket by Mynetra Bolly, a three-pointer by Ashley Williams and a baseline jumper by Catherine Green.
In fact, T.R. Miller's bench produced a season high 25 points and four Lady Tigers reached double digits led by Sanford's 25 points and McCorvey's 14. One double-digit performer was freshman Kesha Peterson, who came off the bench and contributed 10.”That was probably the best our bench people had played all season and it was good to see so many people contribute. We had 10 players score,” Jackson said.
The run T.R. Miller ended the first half with eventually reached 24-0 early in the third quarter when Sanford hit two free throws. The Lady Tigers took their biggest lead later in the third quarter when Kesha Peterson's field goal put T.R. Miller up 69-16.
W.S. Neal's season came to a close with a 6-21 record under Lambert's first-year direction.
T.R. Miller's opponent in Saturday's championship game was second-seeded Clarke County. The Lady Bulldogs overcame an eight-point deficit to knock off a pesky Straughn squad 35-26. Both T.R. Miller and Clarke County will advance to this week's sub-regional round against an opponent and time to be announced. The Area winner will host that round, while the loser will be on the road.
At T.R. Miller
W.S. Neal 5 4 10 9 – 28
T.R. Miller 26 28 15 9 – 78
W.S. NEAL (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Andrews 2-1-3-10; Matthews 3-0-3-9; Likely 3-0-0-6; Adams 0-1-0-3 (Totals: 8-2-6-28)
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Sanford 9-0-7-25; McCorvey 7-0-0-14; Kes. Peterson 2-2-0-10; Grice 5-0-0-10; Barton 3-0-0-6; Key. Peterson 2-0-0-4; A. Williams 0-1-0-3; Green 1-0-0-2; N. Smith 1-0-0-2; Bolly 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 31-3-7-78)