Tigers win Area tournament

Published 6:58 am Wednesday, February 14, 2007

By BY BRUCE HIXON – sports editor
It was the perfect game plan. Combine that with near-perfect execution and one comes up with an Area Tournament championship for the T.R. Miller Tigers.
T.R. Miller's edition of stall ball frustrated Andalusia from start to finish, as it smothered the Bulldogs 36-21 in Monday's Area finale at Brewton.
It was the third Area Tournament crown in four years for coach Rob Atkinson's program and erased some painful memories of last year's overtime loss to Clarke County in the Class 3A Area finals. It also, at least temporarily, enabled the Tigers to win the rubber match against the Bulldogs. T.R. Miller claimed a 45-32 win on its home court in the first meeting before the Bulldogs rebounded with a resounding 73-46 trouncing 10 days later.
T.R. Miller won the game despite the fact it attempted only 25 shots and hit a less than dazzling 36 percent (nine-for-25). On the flip side, Andalusia only got off 28 attempts from the field and hit just 32 percent (nine-for-28).
The real difference turned out to be the free throw line where the Tigers had a 17-3 edge in made attempts and a 24-6 edge in overall attempts.
Both teams took only five shots in the first quarter and both hit two. T.R. Miller was able to take a 5-4 lead because one of its field goals was a three-pointer by Wade Jackson, who later received the tournament's most valuable player award.
A bucket by Terrelle Brooks in the opening moments of the second quarter gave the Tigers (16-6) a 7-4 lead, but Andalusia (16-8) came back with field goals by DeAndre Wright, Brandon Sims and Leslie James to take a 10-7 lead.
Offensive putbacks by Jackson and Brandon Andrews put T.R. Miller back in front 11-10, but a hoop by James with just over a minute left in the half put the Bulldogs up 11-10. It turned out to be the last lead for the visitors.
The Tigers got a momentum boost at the buzzer when Jackson scored off an offensive rebound that put T.R. Miller up 13-12.
As good as the Tigers' defense was in the first half, it was even better to start the second half when it held Andalusia without a field goal for the first 10 minutes and to just one basket in the first 12 minutes.
A free throw by Nico Johnson, who was held to just eight points after a 36-point outburst in the last meeting between the teams, in the first minute of the third quarter tied the game at 13-13.
T.R. Miller took the lead for good two minutes later when Kelly Stallworth scored off an assist from Terrence Walker. Later in the frame two free throws by Andrews and a field goal by Brooks widened the lead to 19-14, as Andalusia was held to a mere two free throws for the quarter.
After Jackson and Wright exchanged buckets in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, the Tigers stretched their lead out some more when two free throws by Jamal Middleton and Jackson made it 25-16.
Two more free throws by Jackson with 2:07 left put the lead in double digits at 28-18 and it never dropped below that plateau the rest of the way.
Free throws accounted for T.R. Miller's final 15 points, which included a seven-for-eight performance by Jackson and a four-for-four effort by Middleton.
T.R. Miller will host Escambia County Friday at 7 p.m. in the sub-regional round. Escambia County emerged from Area 1 as the runner-up after it lost in the championship game to Jackson 76-69 Monday.
Just like Monday's game, Friday's contest will also be the rubber match between the Tigers and Blue Devils. T.R. Miller beat Escambia County 55-44 on its home floor back in December at the Escambia County Tournament. The Blue Devils got even with a 67-64 win at Atmore last month.
At T.R. Miller
Andalusia 4 8 2 7 - 21
T.R. Miller 5 8 6 17 - 36
ANDALUSIA (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Johnson 3-0-2-8; Wright 3-0-1-7; James 2-0-0-4; Sims 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 9-0-3-21)
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Jackson 3-1-7-16; Andrews 1-0-3-5; Hetherington 1-0-2-4; Brooks 2-0-0-4; Middleton 0-0-4-4; Stallworth 1-0-1-3 (Totals: 8-1-17-36)

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