Close but no cigar not good enough in TRM's girls finale

Published 7:26 am Monday, February 19, 2007

If the T.R. Miller Lady Tigers tried to find a place where they could have made up their three-point margin of defeat, they gave themselves plenty of places to look.
Unfortunately they will have a long time to contemplate those mistakes after their season came to a close Thursday with a 48-45 loss to the host Thomasville Lady Tigers in the Class 4A subregional round.
Most of the Lady Tigers' game plan against Thomasville centered around rebounding and taking care of the ball. T.R. Miller (12-10) did neither in the opening quarter when it gave up nine offensive rebounds and committed nine turnovers.
While the Lady Tigers settled down with their ball control and committed just seven more giveaways after the first quarter, Thomasville continued to own the offensive boards and wound up with 16 second-chance shots.
Despite the first quarter turnovers and rebounding woes, T.R. Miller managed to hang right with Thomasville (20-3). In fact, the visiting Lady Tigers got off to a 7-2 lead over the first three and a half minutes on a pair of steals converted into buckets by Nakiya Smith and a three-point play by Kesha Peterson.
The turnovers limited T.R. Miller to a mere free throw over the next four and a half minutes. Meanwhile Thomasville went on a 10-1 run during that span behind a pair of buckets by Sondra Lanier and a field goal and two free throws by Dominique Watters to go ahead 12-8.
The visiting Lady Tigers got two free throws by Catherine Green with one second left in the first quarter and an offensive rebound basket by Peterson 30 seconds into the second quarter to tie the game at 12-12.
Three lead changes and another deadlock followed in the quarter. T.R. Miller took its last lead with 1:28 left in the first half when two free throws by Smith gave T.R. Miller a 19-18 lead, but Ebony Earley's field goal moments later gave the host Lady Tigers a 20-19 lead they would take into halftime.
T.R. Miller pulled even for the last time 50 seconds into the third quarter when Mynetra Boley's free throw tied the game at 20-20. Thomasville held the Lady Tigers without a field goal and to just two free throws over the next six minutes. During that stretch the home team got four free throws by Earley, who led all scorers with 19 points, and a three-pointer by Tamara Robinson to open up a 29-22 lead.
While T.R. Miller battled back and cut the gap to 31-27 on Smith's three-point play in the opening moments of the fourth quarter, Thomasville seemed to take control of the game over the next three minutes when a pair of hoops by Earley and one each by Keenya Martin and Watters stretched the lead to a game-high gap of 39-30 with 4:04 left.
Thomasville did its part to open the door for a T.R. Miller comeback. The host Lady Tigers committed seven turnovers in the final frame and came within some fortunate bounces of avoiding a couple more. Thomasville even gave T.R. Miller two points when Earley inexplicably shot the ball into the T.R. Miller basket off an inbounds pass with 1:14 left.
Earley's gift followed a three-pointer and two free throws by Peterson and a three-point play by Catherine Green that narrowed the margin to just 43-40.
Donya Grice, T.R. Miller's lone senior, gave the Lady Tigers a chance to draw even closer or even tie the game with a three-pointer when she came up with a steal with a minute left, but T.R. Miller promptly turned the ball back over. Earley followed a bucket at the other end and gave Thomasville a two-possession lead of 45-40 with 38 seconds left.
An offensive rebound bucket by Smith off a missed three-point attempt by Peterson with 27 seconds left made it a one-possession lead again of 45-42 with 27 ticks left, but Martin made it a four-point lead when she hit one of two free throw attempts to make it 46-42 with 23 seconds left.
Peterson brought the Lady Tigers to within a point when she buried a three-pointer with nine seconds left. That gave T.R. Miller a final chance even after Nicole Washington hit two free throws with 6.3 seconds left to make it 48-45, but a desperation attempt fell way short.
While T.R. Miller's season came to a close, Thomasville advanced to the south regional at Troy University where it will face Ashford.
At Thomasville
T.R. Miller 10 9 6 20 - 45
Thomasville 12 8 11 17 - 48
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Smith 4-1-6-17; Peterson 2-3-3-16; Green 1-0-5-7; Grice 1-0-0-2; Boles 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 8-4-15-45)
THOMASVILLE (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Earley 7-0-5-19; Watters 3-0-4-10; Robinson 1-2-0-8; Washington 1-0-2-4; Lanier 2-0-0-4; Martin 1-0-1-3 (Totals: 15-2-12-48)

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