By Thomas Sellers Jr.
COLLIERVILLE — Some of the headliners coming into the 12th Annual Dragon Fire Tournament at Collierville High School were Manassas and Columbia Central.
And another must-see team on day one of the tournament were the Obion County Lady Rebels. And the visitors from rural Tennessee took on the Millington Lady Trojans on the day after Christmas to start the tourney.
“Obion County is a very good team,” Millington Head Coach Bruce Marshall said. “They have shooters and a good post player. She does a good job down in there. She’s a good, strong kid.”
Despite the solid play of Lady Rebel senior Brandi Goodman in Obion County’s 61-43 win, Marshall said it was the familiar trio of doom that did his team in in the opener.
“But we’re running into a lot of the same things where we are our worst enemy,” he said. “We talked about three things before the ball game that we need to get better at to be competitive: cut our turnovers down, free throws and make the layups. In the first five positions of the ball game, we had five turnovers.”
Millington had a similar start in their prior game Dec. 18 at Houston. The Lady Trojans tried to overcome 10 first-quarter giveaways before losing.
Against Obion County the turnovers started earlier and the other two phases Marshall wanted his team to focus on were lacking.
“We shoot 4 of 12 from the free throw line and we missed layups,” he noted. “We’re not going to beat anybody if we don’t fix those three things. We fix those three things, we have a chance to be pretty good.”
The Lady Rebels were pretty good all evening leading 9-6 after one quarter. The Lady Trojans got scores from Kendra Richardson, Tiara Caldwell and Katie Dupree. Obion County used the inside/outside combination of Goodman and Ali McEwen to take the early lead.
Goodman scored the first bucket of the game and then the Lady Rebels worked the ball around to find McEwen for a triple.
Millington trimmed the lead to 9-8 when guard Erin Clark drove to the basket for a layup. Then Goodman sparked a 18-6 run for her team with a post move for two points.
Clark had all 6 points for Millington in that stretch with drives to the rim. But missed layups and foul shots by the Lady Trojans allowed the Lady Rebels to build a 27-14 lead.
Clark was able to make the tally 27-16 at halftime with a steal and layup to beat the buzzer.
Lady Rebel Paige Hicks came out the locker room on fire helping her team extend their lead to 44-25 before the start of the fourth quarter. Hicks drained a pair of three-pointers.
In the third period, Clark kept up her defensive intensity with another steal leading to a layup. But after a bucket made the score 32-22, McEwen has an answer with a three-pointer. The highlight of the quarter came when Hicks was racing down court and passed the ball through a Millington defender’s legs to McEwen for a layup.
The Lady Trojans outscored Obion County 18-17 in the fourth quarter starting with a Clark triple. But it wasn’t enough to overcome the deficit.
Clark led the Lady Trojans with 18 points. Caldwell and Richardson combined for 16 points.
The Lady Rebels advanced to play the 2011 Dragon Fire champions Southwind Lady Jaguars in the quarterfinals. Meanwhile the Lady Trojans dropped into the Losers’ Bracket to play the Sheffield Lady Knights.
Marshall said his team will come out refocused for the last three games of the tournament as it is a build up for the New Year with Briarcrest, Arlington and Munford on the schedule to start 2013.
“We have to come out and play hard against Sheffield tomorrow, just get in there and battle,” he concluded. “We have to really work on the three things we have to do to get better. It would be nice to play in the finals and stuff. But the mission of the next three ball games is for us to get better as a team.”