By Thomas Sellers Jr.
High school basketball teams are traveling across the United States taking on top level competition this time of year.
The Millington Trojans are among those teams as they plan a trip to Mufreesboro soon. But this past weekend the Trojans had two marquee match-ups closer to home traveling to Dyer County to take on Robert Hubbs and the Choctaws. And after dropping a 67-60 decision to Dyer County Friday night, Millington had less than 24 hours to prepare for a showdown with the Christian Brothers Purple Wave as part of the 2012 Memphis Braggin’ Rights at Arlington High School.
The Saturday showcase pitted private schools against public schools from across the nation. Millington vs. CBHS was one of the most competitive games of the day with the Purple Wave edging the Trojans 51-49.
“We didn’t play well Friday night, not at all,” Millington Head Coach Rob Sabau acknowledged. “We played better today, just made a couple of mistakes at the end. You don’t get back on transition defense trying to steal the outlet pass, which we’ve been on them about for four years, at some point they’re going to have to start showing they are seniors that they are. They’re still making sophomore and junior mistakes.”
The Trojans played like veterans in the third quarter to overcome a 30-27 halftime deficit to build a 40-33 advantage heading into the fourth. The Purple Wave behind the shooting of Charlie Oswald managed to tie the contest at 49-49 late in the fourth quarter.
Millington had a chance to regain the lead late with a one and one at the foul line. The Trojans missed the free throw and the Purple Wave grabbed the rebound. With a quick outlet pass, the ball found CBHS forward Brode’ McLaughlin for a layup and the go-ahead score.
The Trojans had one more shot at the win with 1.6 seconds remaining. El Paso Johnson located teammate Jordan Browning for a jump shot that rimmed out.
“Today’s effort was better,” Sabau noted. “Defensively we didn’t do as well last night. What I told them after both games, ‘None of these games matter right now. It’s district and the playoffs that we need to worry about.’ These games get us ready for that. I think both of them did to a certain degree in different ways.”
Sabau said both games had a playoff atmosphere. Millington and CBHS players felt the electricty with the stands of the Arlington Gymnasium filling up in anticipation of the arrival of Simeon (Chicago) star player Jabari Parker for the last game of the night.
Parker is ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the nation by several publications. And other stop recruits made appearances on the Arlington floor like Southwind’s Jajuan Johnson and Johnathan Williams.
In the Trojan/Purple Wave contest the standouts were players like Oswald and Josh Bougher of CBHS. For Millington, Johnson was joined by DeCarlos Holmes, Tevin Oliver, Kelby Hollowell and Jordan Browning in helping the Trojans build a lead heading into the fourth quarter. All those players hit shots while holding the Brothers to 3 points in the third period.
But CBHS scored 18 in the fourth quarter with Oswald draining three triples. Sabau said seeing quality players in packed arenas will benefit his team in the near future.
“You go up to Dyer County and play, it’s a different atmosphere,” he noted. “It’s almost 3,000 people there. The last two nights from that standpoint have been good. We’ve just got to cut down on some of these mistakes we’ve been making. We do that, we’ll be fine.
“The other thing is we haven’t had our whole team together all year, any game,” Sabau continued. “We haven’t played with a full deck of cards yet. And we’ve really missed Jerick (Newsome) the last two games.”
Newsome will return to his point guard position this week just in time for the Holiday tournaments. The Trojans will use those games to be ready for District 14-3A play and taking on the likes of Craigmont and Arlington, also a part of the Memphis Braggin’ Rights.
“It won’t get any easier, but that’s by designed,” Sabau concluded. “It’s what they wanted and probably need to make sure we’re ready when it comes to January in districts and the schedule starts. Those are the ones we have to win.”