End of the road

Published 9:06 am Monday, March 5, 2007

By BY BRUCE HIXON – sports editor
Based on how well they controlled the tempo once they got leads throughout the season, the T.R. Miller Tigers might not have ever relinquished an advantage against the Douglas Eagles once they got one.
The problem was they never got one outside of a few seconds early in the first quarter. Instead it was Douglas that controlled the pace and the Tigers en route to a 44-34 victory in Thursday's Class 4A state tournament semifinal game held at the Birmingham Civic Center.
T.R. Miller strung together a valiant rally down the stretch that saw it cut a 13-point deficit all the way down to two midway through the fourth quarter before the Eagles (30-6) turned the Tigers away.
The Tigers (19-7) were unable to overcome a sluggish shooting performance that saw them hit only 28 percent of their shots (13-for-46) and 50 percent of their free throws (five-for-10).
The Tigers, who made their first state tournament appearance since 1994, led just once. That came with their first field goal of the game when Jamal Middleton's baseline jumper gave T.R. Miller a 3-2 lead with 5:23 left in the opening frame.
Douglas was able to build a double-digit, first half advantage despite the fact it had just two players score. The Eagles took the lead for good with a 9-0 run thanks to a three-point play and two additional free throws David Kilgo and a couple of buckets from inside the lane by Kyle Chamblee.
T.R. Miller was kept off the scoreboard for more than five minutes until Jackson tipped in a missed shot at the buzzer that brought the Tigers to within 11-5.
Kilgo and Chamblee helped Douglas widen its lead in the second quarter. They both had a pair of buckets in a five-minute stretch that saw the Eagles stretch their cushion up to 19-9.
After it missed four of its first 16 shots, T.R. Miller hit its final three of the first half when a bucket by Jamal Middleton and two field goals by Jackson narrowed Douglas' lead to only 19-15 at halftime.
Both teams managed just two points in the first four minutes of the third quarter, but the Eagles made a big run over the next four minutes.
Brandon Brothers scored off an inbounds pass, Chamblee scored twice from inside the lane, Kilgo threw in a bucket and a free throw, and Matt Caughman added a free throw in a 10-1 run that stretched Douglas' advantage to 31-18.
T.R. Miller junior Brandon Andrews had scored just two points before he buried a three-pointer at the third quarter buzzer. It was the start of a huge final eight minutes for Andrews, who scored 15 of his team-high 17 points during that stretch.
Andrews began the fourth quarter with another three-pointer and a field goal from the wing that brought the Tigers within 31-26.
After Kilgo broke up a streak of eight straight points by Andrews with a bucket, Andrews hit another trey and a pair of free throws that dwindled the Eagles'cushion to 33-31 with 4:16 left.
T.R. Miller had a chance to erase the rest of the lead when Jackson went to the foul line for a one-and-one with four minutes left, but the senior who finished his prep career with 1,008 points, missed the front end.
The Tigers' comeback ran out of steam when they managed just one free throw over the next 3:40.
Caughman hit a huge bucket for the Eagles with 2:30 left that gave Douglas a two-possession lead of 36-32.
The Eagles secured their win from the free throw line here they hit eight of 13 attempts. That included a five-for-six effort by Adam Bright.
At Birmingham
Douglas 11 8 12 13 – 44
T.R. Miller 5 10 6 13 - 34
DOUGLAS (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Chamblee 7-0-2-16; Kilgo 5-0-4-14; Brothers 2-0-2-6; Bright 0-0-5-5; Caughman 1-0-1-3 (Totals: 15-0-14-44)
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Andrews 3-3-2-17; Jackson 4-0-0-8; Middleton 2-0-1-5; Brooks 1-0-1-3; Cunningham 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 10-3-5-34)

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