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Trojans overcome early fouls to beat MHEA

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

Trojan Jerick Newsome goes up for a layup last week against MHEA.

Trojan El Paso Johnson slams down two points.

The sound of whistles dominanted the first half of the Millington Trojans’ season opener last Thursday night.

The spectators in the William Osteen Gymnasium got comfortable for two quarters that took more than an hour to play when the Trojans were called for 24 fouls. The MHEA Eagles benefited from the whistles scoring a majority of their 35 points from the foul line.

But Millington was still ahead by 10 points heading into the locker room. The second half went much quicker with less fouls and more Trojan fast break points leading to a 79-55 victory.

In years past when the Trojans were out-shot from the charity strip they would either be in a nail-bitter or defeated. But in the 2012-13 season opener, the outcome never really was in doubt.

“We’re getting better,” Trojans Head Coach Rob Sabau said. “We’ve got 11 seniors, that’s what it tells me. They’re bigger, stronger, faster than they were a year or two years ago. They’re really starting to get what we’ve been preaching to them about moving the basketball and sharing the basketball.”

The Trojans shared the ball early jumping out to a 9-0 lead. The starting five for Millington were players who attended all 13 days of practice.

Willie Mudbone, Jordan Browning, Kendrick Carter, Kelby Hollowell and Jerick Newsome seemed to be working on the same page during that stretch.

Browning located Mudbone behind the arch on the baseline. Mudbone launched the first field goal attempt for the Trojans finding nothing but net.

Seconds later Browning was back into the passing act when he drove to the basket and shoveled the ball to a cutting Carter for a layup.

Ahead 5-0 the Trojans used traps near midcourt with Hollowell using his length to force a steal. Newsome collected the ball and attacked the basket for a layup.

Then it was time for Browning to connect with the basket. The junior guard drove to the rim and hit a shot making the score 9-0.

Then the whistles started. Before three minutes elapsed in the contest Browning had three fouls. With the Eagles visiting the free throw line multiple times the score was 13-13. And as the first quarter came to an end MHEA was ahead 19-16.

Sabau faced a challenge of trying to regain the lead in the second quarter using a majority of players who were playing a playoff football game less than a week ago

Last Friday Johnathan Patterson was a standout linebacker for the Trojans. Thursday night he was draining a three-pointer that made the score 19-19.

Patterson tied the game again at 25-25 hitting another triple. He gave Millington the lead with a layup seconds later.

MHEA regained the lead at 34-33. Then Trojan senior El Paso Johnson took over the game.

Another one of the football players who missed the early days of practice, Johnson stroked a three-pointer that gave Millington the lead for good.

With so many players in foul trouble Sabau had to move around some pieces and insert some younger players in early like LaKeron Garcia, Rodarius Johnson and Tim Thompson.

Garcia saw a few snaps at quarterback for the Trojans this past season. He used his passing ability in the second quarter to toss a alley-oop from midcourt to El Paso.

The elder Johnson leaped from the wing and caught the ball for a two-hand slam making the tally 40-34.

Moments later Garcia got into the scoring act with a layup from the assist of Tevin Oliver. And to close the first half Thompson drained a triple that made the score 45-35.

In the third quarter Millington put the game away behind the hot shooting of Browning and Hollowell. Browning nailed a three-pointer between two scoring plays from Hollowell.

The three-point play from Hollowell was the first points of the second half for the Trojans. Then Hollowell stepped back and hit a three-pointer that made the score 56-40.

Browning came out the locker room motivated having to set out the whole second quarter. He told teammates he would make his first three shots. After hitting one triple, Browning attempted a three-pointer from NBA range that found nothing but net. With his layup Browning fulfilled his promise.

With contributions from DeCarlos Holmes Millington lead grew more than 20. And the Trojans closed out the fourth quarter holding on to the big advantage.

Sabau acknowledge his team has to do its part not to have too many whistles blown by not reaching as much and getting into better position.

“We’ve got to get better everyday,” he concluded. “We’ve got a lot of talent on this team. They just need to get better everyday and get used to playing with each other again. We’ve got to get the rust off.”

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November 2012
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