BREAKING NEWS: Lady Tigers' season comes to end at final four

Published 5:56 am Wednesday, February 27, 2008

By By Adam Robinson
Sports Editor
All good things must come to an end, and that was the case Tuesday night in Birmingham as the T.R. Miller Lady Tigers fell to the Deshler Lady Tigers 60-42 in the AHSAA final four class 4A semifinals.
Deshler used a used a 7-0 run to claim at 29-25 lead at the half after a 15-15 tie at the end of the first quarter and extended their run to 17-0 as they took a 39-25 lead at the 5:15 mark in the third before a free throw by Miller's Ashley Williams ended the run and cut the lead to 39-26 with 4:22 left in the third as Deshler build a led of 19 at 45-26 at the 2:56 mark and outscored the Lady Tigers 22-8 in the quarter en route to the win.
The fourth quarter was equal in points at 9-9.
"We kind of just lost our focus for a second or two there and we had trouble picking up our man and made a few mistakes," T.R. Miller Lady Tiger head coach Ron Jackson said. "We bowed up there at the end and I am proud of the ladies as they never quit. We made some young team mistakes, but we expect to be back here next year."
Young was the best way to describe his team as the Lady Tigers had no seniors on the team and Deshler had four on their roster in Birdie Owens, Tarnisha Whitson, Ashleigh Jackson, and Sstoria Harris.
Three of the seniors on Deshler's team in Owens, Whitson, and Jackson combined to score 56 of Deshler's 60 points as Owens led them with 25 points.
"Deshler has won four of the last five state championships," Jackson said. "The won in 2003, 2004, 2006, and 2006 and last to Midfield last year. That's four straight. Prior to last year, we were the team that beat them in 2002. It is just one of those things when you come to Birmingham and look up at the stands and for a moment or two you realize that you are in a big building and we just lost our focus."
With the loss the Lady Tigers fell to 21-5 on the season as Deshler improved to 29-3. It was just the first loss for the Lady Tigers after winning 16 games in a row. Tuesday's trip back to Birmingham was the Lady Tiger's first since 2004.
In the game Tuesday night, Deshler jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, but the Lady Tigers cut the lead to 3-2 after a William's jumper at the 6:48 mark in the first.
From there, Deshler built a 5-2 lead, but Miller quickly closed the gap and took a 6-5 lead with 5:38 after a Nakiya Smith jumper.
Smith, who lead Miller in the regionals with 49 points in two games and was named MVP, only tallied four points in the game.
A Catherine Green jumper gave the Lady Tigers an 8-5 lead with 3:59 left, but Deshler closed the gap to 10-9 before Kesha Peterson gave the Lady Tigers a13-10 lead at the 2:17 mark.
From there, the game was tied at 13-13 and 15-15 at the end of the first quarter of play.
In the second quarter, after a tight first four minutes, Miller grabbed a 25-22 lead with 3:37 left in the half, but a 7-0 run at the end of the quarter gave Deshler a 29-25 halftime lead.
Deshler carried things over into the third as they extended their lead to 39-25 and the run to 17-0 and built a 19-point lead in the quarter as they outscored the Lady Tigers 22-8 in the quarter and held a 51-33 lead heading into the fourth quarter,
In the fourth, Deshler held a 20-point lead twice in the quarter with the last coming at 56-36 at the 6:12 mark as the Tigers cut the lead to 14 after a 6-0 run led by leading scorer Green and freshman Briana Gatlin, but the lead was too much as Deshler extended the lead to 18 and won 60-42.
Green led Miller with 12 points as Peterson led with eight rebounds.
Gatlin had seven points along with Peterson and finished with seven rebounds, five blocks and one steal.
Miller shot 35 percent from the field in the game and was 2-for-14 from 3-point land and was 6-of-11 from the free throw line.
Deshler shot 37 percent from field and was 4-of-12 from 3-point range. Deshler was 12-of-14 from the line.
The Lady Tigers committed 26 turnovers in the game.
"It's been a great year," Jackson said. "We started off slow, but won 16 straight. We have a young team and I am proud of them. It is an honor to be here. You don't get invited to this tournament as you have to earn it and work hard to get here."
T.R. Miller will return all players from this year's squad to the team and if the roster of this year is any indication of the team it will see five seniors, four juniors, five sophomores and one freshman as no seniors were on this years team.