Categorized | Sports

Millington wins with power game over Brighton

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

Brighton Lady Cardinal guard Teiona Lewis literally secures a rebound over Millington Lady Trojan Tiara Caldwell as Troi Chestnut applies pressure defense Friday night in the William Osteen Gymnasium.

The typical headliners for Millington Lady Trojans basketball the last three has been the Twin Towers of Treasure Reading and Tiara Caldwell.

Reading is a versatile 6’2 forward who can put the ball on the floor, shoot from long range and block shots. Caldwell is a force in the paint earning a scholarship to UT-Martin. She runs the floor lightning quick and uses her leaping ability to score over defenders.

Friday night the visiting Brighton Lady Cardinals were fully aware of the talents of Reading and Caldwell. And Head Coach Kent Cates Lady Cardinals did a solid job of denying the Towers the ball early in the game.

But that created an opening for the Millington backcourt of Kendra Richardson and Erin Clark. But both guards reached double figures by game’s end to lead Millington to a 52-34 win.

“In order for us to open it up, we have to get a few things going in the perimeter,” Clark acknowledged. “To start the game off like that, just made things flow. It made everyone more comfortable.”

The Lady Trojans were ahead 8-5 in the first quarter after a Seymon Taylor bucket. The lead grew to 11-5 by the time the first buzzer sounded in the William Osteen Gymansium when Clark put together a three-point play.

Reading nailed a couple of foul shots to start the second quarter making the score 13-5. The Lady Cardinals got a boost from their backcourt of Alaina Bierdz and Teiona Lewis.

Lewis hit a jumper to make the score 13-7. Then Bierdz came down the court on the next possession and hit her own jump shot. After Lewis made a pair of free throws the score was 13-11.

Lady Trojan Troi Chestnut sparked a rally to snap Brighton’s momentum with a foul shot. Millington went on a 9-3 run to make the score 22-14.

In that run Millington freshman Glenda Garner made two layups. Bierdz ended the Lady Cardinals drought with two free throws and the score was 22-16 at the break.

“It was a physical game,” Cates noted. “That was more of an advantage to them, then us. As it got more physical, that was less of an advantage for us because of their size.”

Millington’s size advantage cut off the paint area for Brighton in the third quarter. The Lady Trojans were able to trap more outside the three-point arch leading to multiple fast breaks.

“Defense is a big thing for us,” Richardson said. “When we play hard on defense, the better it is on our offense. If we do help side (defense) and stick on our man, we normally do better on our defense.”

To conclude the third quarter, Lady Cardinal turnovers led to a Caldwell layup. And Richardson made a steal and cashed in on the other end with a bucket making the score 40-24.

Clark said forcing turnovers near midcourt and playing solid defense has it’s rewards.

“It’s easier,” she said as compared to running offensive sets. “It’s simpler. It’s faster. Then we can get back on defense and hopefully do it again. Then the points will start racking up and before you know it you’re in a big lead. And it’s hard for them to comeback because once you’re in the lead, the other team loses confidence.”

With the defense clicking the Lady Trojans outscored Brighton 12-10 in the final period. The highlight of the quarter for Millington was a Clark no-look pass to a cutting Caldwell for a layup.

Despite the Lady Cardinals suffering an 18-point defeat to one of the District 14-3A preseason favorites, Cates said he saw his team take some steps forward.

“I’ve seen a lot of progression,” he said. “But we’re still pretty injured right now and young. The girls are working hard. And that’s all I can ever ask for. As for our offensive sets, we’re getting the shots we want. We’ve just got to start making them. As the inexperience wears off, those shots will start falling for us.”

Cates said as December continues and January arrives, he sees his team being a major player in District 13-3A.

“I think we can be a player in our district and get to the Region,” he concluded. “If we can put four quarters together, we’ve got to be able to do that.”

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