Win over Central-Coosa in opener is Tigers' first at regional in 13 years
Published 8:15 am Monday, February 26, 2007
By BY BRUCE HIXON – SPORTS EDITOR
Astronaut Neil Armstrong said it was “One small step for man, one giant leap to mankind,” when he set foot on the moon.
While the T.R. Miller Tigers' 42-34 first-round Class 4A South Regional win over the Central-Coosa Cougars Wednesday may not have quite reached that significance, it was a huge stepping stone for the program.
The victory was the Tigers first in the regional round since 1994 when it downed Abbeville 81-56 in the championship game. That was also the last time T.R. Miller advanced to the state tournament.
The Tigers threatened to run away from Central-Coosa (14-12) when it scored the game's first 11 points, but later had to hang on for dear life when that advantage got shaved all the way down to a mere point in the second half.
Wade Jackson got the Tigers off to the quick start, as he scored nine of his game-high 18 points in the first quarter. Jackson had three field goals in the 11-0 run to start the game, which also included fastbreak buckets by Brandon Andrews and Terry Hetherington.
T.R. Miller kept the Cougars off the scoreboard until there were only 24 seconds left in the opening frame when Derius Jackson scored and was fouled on a shot from inside the lane. Jackson missed the free throw, but Joe Russell got the offensive rebound and scored again.
T.R. Miller's Jackson capped off a big individual quarter when he buried a three-pointer from the corner just before the buzzer that gave the Tigers a 14-4 lead.
After the quick start, the Tigers hit just one field goal and scored only three points in the first six minutes of the second quarter.
That left the door open for Central-Coosa to make a run and the Cougars did just that when two three-pointers by Jamal Murray reduced the gap to 16-10.
A free throw and bucket by Jackson put the lead up to 19-10, but the Cougars ended the half with buckets by Murray and Russell to trim T.R. Miller's lead to 19-14.
Murray and Russell also began the second half with buckets that brought Central-Coosa to within a point.
Despite seven third quarter turnovers, the Tigers did not let the Cougars take that next step.
A bucket and two free throws by Terrelle Brooks and single field goals by Jamal Middleton, Kelly Stallworth and Terrence Walker kept T.R. Miller on top 29-24 through the end of the quarter.
Central-Coosa pulled within three points on four occasions in the fourth quarter, the last of which came when Murray drove inside and scored to make it 35-32 with 1:17 left.
The key sequence down the stretch came with 51 seconds left when Brooks was fouled and hit the first of two free throw attempts to make it a two-possession lead of 36-32. Brooks missed the second shot, but Jackson slipped by the Central-Coosa defense and tipped the ball in to make it a 38-32 lead.
Central-Coosa 4 10 10 10 - 34
T.R. Miller 14 5 10 13 - 42
CENTRAL-COOSA (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Murray 4-2-0-14; Russell 5-0-3-13; Jackson 1-0-3-5; Whetstone 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 11-2-6-34)
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Jackson 6-1-3-18; Brooks 2-0-3-7; Hetherington 2-0-1-5; Andrews 1-0-2-4; Stallworth 2-0-0-4; Walker 1-0-0-2; Middleton 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 15-1-9-42)