By Thomas Sellers Jr.
BARTLETT — Things have seemed simple to the Millington Lady Trojans lately.
Head Coach Bruce Marshall has been preaching to his team all season to play smart by staying out of foul trouble, move your feet on defense and get the ball inside to players like Tiara Caldwell and Treasure Redding.
And the goal of the Lady Trojans was even more simple Friday night, do the basics and leave the Bartlett Gymnasium unbeaten in District 14-3A at the halfway point. Using their simple formula, Millington defeated the host Lady Panthers 63-49 and improved to 5-0 in league play.
“If everyone stays out of foul trouble, then that means less subbing,” Millington senior guard Erin Clark noted, “and it means having all of our varsity starters stay in longer. A great defense leads to a good offense.
“And with our post, they’re bigger than the whole district,” she added. “If we have 6-foot players on 5-foot players, that’s a big mismatch. They become easier buckets.”
Tossing the ball inside to Caldwell and Redding in the opening quarter created shot opportunities for players like Seymon Taylor. The senior shooting guard hit two jumpers in helping Millington take a 20-9 lead after 8 minutes.
The Lady Trojans’ 11-point lead grew to 17 by halftime. Caldwell got things started with a layup. Then Caldwell stole the ball on the defensive end leading to a fast-break basket. Caldwell was fouled and completed the three-point play to make the score 25-9.
Taylor said the Caldwell that used to roam the court at Woodstock Middle School with raw talent has matured into a Division I caliber post player.
“Tiara is really good,” she said. “I’ve been working with her ever since middle school. She’s just grown and we really need her. She’s the leader of the team. Her on the floor gives us a big advantage. I know she’s going to get out there and hustle, use her height to dominant.”
After the Lady Panthers trimmed the Millington lead to 12 points, Caldwell sparked a 12-5 Millington run to conclude the first half. Redding hit a jumper and Caldwell hit two buckets in the paint.
The other points came courtesy of Taylor including her jumper near the end of the half that made the score 37-20.
In the third quarter the Lady Trojans were ahead 51-25. Redding and Troi Chestnut assisted Caldwell in Millington’s 14-5 run to the start the second half.
Bartlett closed out the third quarter with an 11-0 run. Shondria Scruggs started the Lady Panther’s rally with a pair of three-points. Then her foul shots made the score 51-36 entering the fourth quarter.
The Lady Trojans used one more big run to lead to victory. Millington outscored the Lady Panthers 11-5 to start the fourth quarter.
“No one works alone,” Taylor said. “We try to work together as a team as much as we can. We try to be there for one another. Guards help out because we know the post is going to get doubled team. So we just try to step up.”
It was Taylor’s jumper that made the score 62-41. Bartlett outscored Millington 8-1 down the stretch but it was too late to stop the Lady Trojans from improving to 5-0 in District 14-3A.
“It feels great,” Clark concluded. “If we remain No. 1 until the end, we’ll have less worries.”