TRM clinches no worse than tie for Area crown

Published 3:55 am Monday, January 22, 2007

By BY BRUCE HIXON – sports editor
W.S. Neal overcame a 21-point halftime deficit to beat the T.R. Miller Tigers in football last fall. They could not do the same on the basketball court Friday, as the Tigers steamrolled their way to a 72-51 win over their archrival.
It was T.R. Miller's third win of the season over the Blue Eagles, but more importantly it clinched at least a share of the Class 4A Area 2 regular season championship.
T.R. Miller (12-6 overall, 5-0 in Area 2) can clinch the Area crown outright and reserve its spot as next month's Area 2 Tournament host with a win at Andalusia (3-1 in Area play) this Friday. The Tigers would also clinch the top spot if Andalusia stumbles against Hillcrest Tuesday. If the teams finished tied, a coin toss will be used to decide the champion and Area 2 Tournament host.
The Tigers used a devastating press against the Blue Eagles (2-17 overall and 0-5 in Area play) that enabled them to open up a 31-point lead 13 minutes into the game.
&#8220This was the third time we had seen W.S. Neal and we wanted to give them a little different look with the press and it did exactly what we wanted it to do,” said T.R. Miller coach Rob Atkinson.
T.R. Miller forced W.S. Neal (2-16 overall and 0-5 in Area 2) into 11 first quarter turnovers and 14 giveaways during those decisive 13 minutes.
T.R. Miller accomplished its win and put 10 players in the scoring column despite the fact it had one starter, Wade Jackson, on the bench due to an injured toe, and a spot starter/top reserve, Terrence Walker, gone on a recruiting trip.
Fountain was a big contributor to the Tigers early surge, as he had 10 of his season-high 14 points in the first half.
It took T.R. Miller less than five minutes to open up a double-digit lead it never relinquished. A three-pointer and two technical foul free throws by Brandon Andrews and a pair of buckets by Terrelle Brooks sent T.R. Miller on a 13-2 run to start the game.
Later in the frame two field goals by Fountain followed by a three-point play by Andrews and a buzzer-beater by Jamal Middleton widened the Tigers' cushion to 22-7.
T.R. Miller added nine more points to that lead at the start of the second quarter when a three-point play and another bucket by Brooks, an offensive rebound basket by Corey Cunningham and a steal and layup by Terry Hetherington made it 31-7.
The Tigers took their biggest lead of the first half with three minutes left when a bucket by Fountain made it 41-10.
W.S. Neal strung together a 10-0 run on a field goal and two free throws by Chris Payne, a three-pointer and free throw by Jimmy Wilson and a basket by Jamar Travis cut the gap to 41-20.
T.R. Miller, which led 43-22 at halftime, got the lead up to a third quarter high of 54-26 late in the frame when Jeremy Curry scored off an assist from Middleton.
A bucket by Fountain with 3:20 left in the game enabled the Tigers to match their largest margin of lead in the second half at 64-36.
T.R. Miller's junior varsity climbed back above the .500 mark for the season with a 44-19 win over W.S. Neal.
Joe McCorvey and Alaric Watson each had eight points to lead the Tigers (5-4), while Kendrick Floyd knocked in seven to lead W.S. Neal (2-11).
Both teams are in action Monday, as T.R. Miller travels to Escambia County, while W.S. Neal hosts Northview, Fla.
At T.R. Miller
W.S. Neal 7 15 6 23 - 51
T.R. Miller 22 21 13 16 - 72
W.S. NEAL (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) J. Travis 7-0-1-15; Payne 4-0-7-15; Wilson 1-2-2-10; Mickens 3-1-0-9; Bradley 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 16-3-10-51)
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Andrews 5-2-3-19; Fountain 6-0-2-14; Brooks 5-0-1-11; Curry 2-0-2-6; Stallworth 1-0-4-6; Payne 2-0-0-4; Hetherington 2-0-0-4; Arauz 2-0-0-4; Cunningham 1-0-0-2; Middleton 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 27-2-12-72)
Junior varsity
W.S. Neal 7 6 2 4 - 19
T.R. Miller 5 17 9 13 - 44
W.S. NEAL (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Floyd 2-1-0-7; Sanders 3-0-0-6; Samuel 0-1-0-3; Alexander 1-0-1-3 (Totals: 6-2-1-19)
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) McCorvey 2-0-4-8; Watson 2-0-4-8; Redfern 3-0-1-7; M. Lane 1-1-2-7; Riley 1-0-4-6; Banks 0-0-2-2; Powell 1-0-0-2; Lewis 1-0-0-2; Shufford 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 12-1-17-44)
Tigers topple No. 1
The Tigers missed an opportunity to beat a No. 1-ranked team earlier this season when they lost to Class 1A No. 1 J.F. Shields in overtime.
T.R. Miller did not let the opportunity to beat another No. 1 team slip away Tuesday when it downed Class 4A's top-ranked team, the Andalusia Bulldogs, with a 45-32 victory at Brewton.
Not only did the Tigers beat the No. 1 team in the state in Class 4A, but more importantly the win left T.R. Miller as the only unbeaten team left in Area 2.
While Tuesday's performance was not the lowest defensive output by T.R. Miller this season (19 against Jay), it probably featured its best individual defensive performance. Andalusia's Niko Johnson came into the contest averaging 21.9 points a game, but the Tigers, namely Kelly Stallworth, held him to a season-low 13 points.
T.R. Miller scored just 10 first half points, but trailed just 11-10 at halftime thanks to its defense.
While the Tigers finally found an offensive rhythm in the third quarter when they more than doubled their first half output, their defense continued its stellar play where it forced Andalusia into six of its 12-second half turnovers.
The Bulldogs (11-5 overall and 2-1 in Area play) still clung to a one-point lead of 19-18 halfway through the third quarter when T.R. Miller made its move.
A steal and bucket by Brandon Andrews, a three-pointer by Corey Cunningham and a fastbreak layup by Terrelle Brooks gave T.R. Miller a 25-19 lead it would not relinquish.
The 7-0 blitz was the start of what turned into a 16-2 run that carried into the fourth quarter. By the time it ended with a free throw by Andrews with 7:07 left, the Tigers had stretched their lead to 34-21.
Just when it seemed like T.R. Miller had Andalusia on the ropes, the Bulldogs charged back with a couple of buckets by Ferrell, a free throw by Johnson and a layup off a steal by D'Andre Wright that quickly cut the lead to just 34-28 with 5:05 left.
T.R. Miller put the brakes on Andalusia's comeback when Andrews drove in for a score and Terry Hetherington hit two free throws that put the lead back into double digits at 38-28 with just over three minutes left.
T.R. Miller's junior varsity lost a 36-32 decision to Andalusia. Corey Redfern led the Tigers with nine points.
At T.R. Miller
Andalusia 4 7 16 5 - 32
T.R. Miller 6 4 21 14 - 45
ANDALUSIA (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Johnson 6-0-1-13; Ferrell 5-0-0-10; James 2-0-2-6; Wright 1-0-0-2; Jenkins 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 14-0-4-32)
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Andrews 3-1-3-12; Hetherington 4-0-2-10; Jackson 3-0-3-9; Stallworth 2-0-0-4; Brooks 1-0-2-4; Cunningham 0-1-0-3; Walker 1-0-1-3 (Totals: 14-2-11-45)
Junior varsity
Andalusia 8 11 9 8 - 36
T.R. Miller 10 2 6 14 - 32
ANDALUSIA (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Curry 10-0-0-20; Flowers 1-0-3-5; Weeden 2-0-1-5; Smith 2-0-0-4; Ingram 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 16-0-4-36)
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Redfern 3-0-3-9; Watson 1-2-0-8; McCorvey 2-0-0-4; M. Lane 2-0-0-4; Lewis 0-0-2-2; Riley 1-0-0-2; T. Lane 1-0-0-2; Powell 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 10-2-6-32)

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