By Thomas Sellers Jr.
On Friday night, the Millington Trojans put District 14-3A on notice with a 63-58 win over preseason favorite Arlington.
The following night the Trojans had a chance to put Region 7-3A on high alert while gaining a measure of revenge. The rival Munford Cougars came to town as one of the top teams in District 13-3A and owners of a win over Millington back in November.
And things were looking good for the Cougars in the rematch ahead the entire first half in the William Osteen Gymnasium. But Millington was able to overcome a 23-18 halftime deficit with unsung heroes like Willie Mudbone to prevail 51-48.
“I’ve been a little absent this year,” Mudbone acknowledged. “We feed it into our big guys. We go inside/out. They kicked it out and I hit some open threes. I missed some open threes but I hit them when it counted.”
Mudbone brought the Trojans within one point of the lead at 27-26 in the third quarter making three free throws. Then 30 seconds passed when the Trojans located 6’8 forward DeCarlos Holmes in the paint. The Millington big man elevated for a layup giving Millington it’s first lead of the contest at 28-27.
The game became a seesaw battle with Trojan post players like Holmes and El Paso Johnson trading shots with Cougars like Kameron Foster, Jonathan Stark and Kylon Hall.
After Millington guard Jordan Browning fired a no-look pass to a cutting Kelby Hollowell for a layup, the Trojans were ahead 34-31. Stark has an answer with a three-pointer to tie the game.
And before the third quarter buzzer could sound, Hall grabbed a rebound and placed the ball off the glass for a bucket giving Munford a 36-34 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Cougars’ advantage grew to 38-34 when Antonio Moore scored on a layup. Then Trojan forward Jovan Ballard sparked a 6-0 run for Millington with a foul shot and hook in the lane.
With six minutes and 13 seconds remaining in the game, Mudbone took his turn to shine hitting a long range shot to give Millington a 40-38 lead.
Hall tied the game with a layup setting the stage for Trojan Kendrick Carter. The senior forward naile a jumper to make the score 42-40 in favor of the Trojans.
Then it was Mudbone again stepping outside of the arch. The senior guard stroked another triple making the score 45-40.
Munford had an answer with Foster dribbling down the court and locating Moore for a basket in the lane. Then Foster took his matters into his own hands hitting a three-pointer to tie the game at 45-45.
Millington recaptured the lead with Jerick Newsome making a pair of foul shots and Hollowell hitting a layup.
Stark brought his team within one point draining a three-pointer with 22.7 seconds remaining on the clock. With the score 49-48 in favor of the Trojans, Millington Head Coach Rob Sabau called a timeout to set up a play.
Coming out of the break, the Trojans were able to hit Johnson running free to the other end of the court. The senior forward gathered the ball and leaped to the rim for a two-hand slam making the score 51-48.
The Cougars were not able to tie the game sending the William Osteen Gymnasium into celebration mood.
“It was important because we didn’t want to be the laughing stock of Millington,” Johnson said of earning the win. “We came and fought through and got the win thanks to players like Willie Mudbone.”
It’s been a long list of Trojans who helped Millington pick up two wins over Region 7-3A favorites in consecutative nights. Against the Arlington Tigers, Newsome had 16 points and El Paso’s little brother Roddarius added 14. Mudbone stepped up against the Tigers with 11 points.
“It’s been three years,” El Paso noted. “This is our last year. We have to do something with it.
Mudbone said it is put-up time for the Trojans.
“We realized our potential from the beginning,” he said. “But with it being district time our senior year, we have to produce. It’s time to stop saying, ‘We’re potentially a good team.’ We have to be a good team and produce to make a deep run.”
El Paso said there are three keys to Millington continuing its success and making some noise the rest of the season.
“We have to play together,” he concluded. “We have to play hard, stay together and expect to win every time.”