By Thomas Sellers Jr.
In recent years, the Munford vs. Millington boys’ basketball games have been thrilling seesaw battles no matter the time or location.
And last Friday night the trend was continuing in the William Osteen Gymnasium with the Cougars ahead 29-28 at halftime. Then Munford Head Coach Butch Hopkins came up with a simple solution to help his team create some breathing room.
“After a while we figured that we weren’t knocking down any shots from the outside,” Munford forward Kylon Hall said. “So we got together and talked about it. We decided to start putting the ball in the post and we went from there.”
Early in the third quarter Millington Trojan Julian Daughtry tied the game at 31-31 with a three-pointer. Then the Munford Cougars put Coach Hopkins’ plan into effect feeding power forward Andrea’ Bell. The senior post player scored 8 points in helping the Cougars build a 43-31 lead. Munford went on to win the rivalry game 73-57.
“It was hard to guard Kylon and me,” Bell noted. “We were shooting a lot of shots from the outside at first. Then we went in the locker room and talked it over.
“We just had to stress getting the ball to Kylon and me and let us play,” he added. “It’s a big man’s game. They threw me the ball, I did my thing. It was really all my teammates doing the work to get me the ball.”
Bell and Hall didn’t see the ball directly much in the first two quarters. Millington was ahead early 10-5 after a LaKeron Garcia three-pointer.
Munford tied the contest at 11-11 later in the first quarter with a basket from David Hunter. Trojan Jordan Browning had an answer with a triple to make the score 14-11. Then Browning attacked the basket hitting a scoop shot to make the score 16-11.
To close the opening quarter Bell displayed his ranger nailing a long jumper at the buzzer to make the score 16-13.
In the second quarter Bell scored another bucket to tie the game at 19-19. Then his teammate Reggie Holmes made a steal leading to a layup and a Munford 21-19 lead.
Roddarius Pitts took the advantage back for the Trojans with a three-pointer. It was Hunter’s turn to place lead-changer with a basket.
Trailing 23-22, Millington regained the lead with a pair of foul shots from Devynn Brandon. Munford took the advantage yet again when Holmes fired a pass to Hall in the lane for two points, 25-24.
Cougar Juane Toltor hit a pair of free throws to Munford’s advantage three points. Then Trojan Davonte Winston hit back-to-back buckets in the lane to give Milllington a 28-27 lead.
Before the buzzer sounded to end the half, the crowd got a preview of what was to come with a Hall two-hand slam to make the score 29-28 in favor of the Cougars.
In the third quarter the Cougars outscored Millington 23-11 including a 12-0 run in the middle of the period. It was Bell making low-post moves and drawing fouls that led to 8 points during that stretch.
Then Browning ended the Millington drought with a three-pointer to make the score 43-34.
Hall took his turn dominating the post scoring near the rim and just inside the foul line. At the end of the quarter Hall hit a jumper to make the score 52-39.
In the fourth quarter the Trojans still couldn’t find their shooting touch. Meanwhile the Cougars got buckets from Hall, Holmes, Toltor, Bell and Titus Mathews. When the final buzzer sounded, the Cougars were owners of a decisive 73-57 victory.
Hall said the Cougar learned a valuable lesson from their Millington game.
“Just in case we can’t knock down shots, we have to be able to get the ball in the post to get things going,” he concluded.