Tigers play different role in this regional
Published 7:56 am Wednesday, February 21, 2007
By BY BRUCE HIXON – SPORTS EDITOR
When the T.R. Miller Tigers basketball team reached the regional round two years ago, they fit the bill of a program that was just happy to be there.
For starters, it had been nine years since the Tigers had reached that level. Second, they had the misfortune of drawing one of the state's top juggernaut teams in Leeds, a team that featured a towering presence inside with players 6-9 and 6-8. Leeds started four players taller than T.R. Miller's tallest player.
Final: Leeds 68, T.R. Miller 26.
The Tigers (17-6) hope for a much different story today when they open up Class 4A South Regional play at Troy University when they take on the Central-Coosa Cougars (14-11) at 7:30 p.m. Handley (12-13) and Andalusia (17-8) battle in the other semifinal slot. The two winners return Saturday at 10:40 a.m. for the championship and a berth in next week's state tournament in Birmingham.
Unlike last time, this year the Tigers have some things on their side headed into the regional. For starters, T.R. Miller has the best record of the four participants. Central-Coosa was a .500 team before postseason play started. The Cougars have won three straight games in the postseason. Central-Coosa downed Beauregard 50-30 and Handley 50-43 to win the Area 6 championship. The Cougars whipped Daleville 78-35 in the subregional round. Handley is still below the .500 mark for the season even with postseason wins over Dadeville 56-34 in the Area opener and a 64-59 win over Ashford in the subregional.
T.R. Miller owns two home-court wins over the other regional participant, Andalusia, with a 13-point victory in the regular season and a 15-point win for the Area championship. Andalusia beat the Tigers by 27 on its home floor during the regular season.
The Tigers got somewhat of a preview of Central-Coosa Friday when they beat Escambia County 70-37 in the subregional.
T.R. Miller takes plenty of senior experience into the regional round with Wade Jackson, Terrelle Brooks, Jeremy Curry, Jamal Middleton, Kelly Stallworth and Terrence Walker. Each has made at least one start this season.
It is because of that senior leadership that has helped the Tigers come through some situations. T.R. Miller has come back from five second-half deficits since the calendar changed to 2007. Those rallies included coming back from 16 points down at home against Monroe County, 15 points down at Hillcrest and 12 down at Jay, Fla.