By Thomas Sellers Jr.
GERMANTOWN — Millington Trojans Head Coach Rob Sabau concluded the calendar year in the role of Santa Claus.
He had to keep a “Good” and “Bad” list for his team during the holiday season. Millington played in the 2013 Dyersburg Christmas Tournament and started the New Year with a road game at MUS.
After dropping the opener in the Dyersburg Tournament in a thriller to DeSoto Central, the Trojans blew out their last two opponents to earn third in the tournament.
But to start 2014, Millington didn’t have a good performance Friday night against the MUS Owls. The following evening the Trojans participated in the first Red Devil Invitational taking on the host Germantown Red Devils. A slow start doomed Millington leading to a 76-63 defeat.
“I thought coming into last night the way we played up there we would have played a lot better,” Sabau said. “But we didn’t even show up. Then the first quarter here, we made some lineup changes to try to motivate some people. It didn’t start out well. But it ended up pretty well.
“This is just like playing a district team,” he continued. “We battled. I told them after the game, ‘District is home and home. And this is what you do against them playing on the road, well I feel pretty good about playing them at home.’”
Germantown seemed to use its home court advantage in the first quarter jumping out to a 22-6 advantage. The Trojans were ahead 4-2, then the Red Devils proceeded with a 14-0 run to take a 16-4 lead.
Trojan guard Julian Daughtry stopped Millington’s drought with a floater in the lane. Red Devil Jeff Swift drained a three-pointer to regain control of the momentum.
The Red Devils built their lead to 26-6 early in the second quarter. Then the Trojans led by Roddarius Pitts rallied to trim the deficit. Millington outscored Germantown 14-6 to make the score 32-20 in favor of the Red Devils.
Millington used buckets from Jarkell Freeman and Devynn Brandon to start the run. Then Pitts took over with a layup and triple. After a Daughtry layup made the score 30-17, Pitt drained another three-pointer to make the deficit 12 points.
Germantown once again stopped the Trojans’ momentum with a three-pointer. This time Red Devil Jake Miller was responsible hitting a trey to make the score 35-20. Germantown led 37-21 at the break.
In the second half, Trojans like Brandon, Jordan Browning and LaKeron Garcia were productive on the offensive end. Brandon hit outside shots and drove to the rim scoring points.
Browning displayed his long-range shooting hitting two NBA three-pointers. And Garcia ran the point and took advantage of driving lanes to make baskets in the paint. But Germantown maintained its double-digit lead with timely shooting.
Sabau said the issue that plagued his team against Germantown is a familiar issue.
“This group it’s a process and you’re building and building,” he noted. “These game are for us to get better. Yes, you want to win them. But I’m not worried about record right and all that. I’m worried about districts.
“We have to get more consistent,” Sabau added. “We play well one game win or loss. And then somewhere down the line we just have terrible games. We get beat bad by them that probably shouldn’t beat us at all. We just need more consistency.”
Millington opens its District 14-3A schedule this Friday on the road at the team picked to win the league by most experts, Arlington. The Tigers were also at the Red Devil Invitational and they beat Central Park (Birmingham)88-71.
Most fans left the Germantown Gymnasium impressed with Tigers like CJ Anderson, KJ Bates and Nathan Hoover. And the Trojans had flashes of great offense that will help them navigate their league schedule.
“You saw how good we can be at times,” Sabau said. “Offensively, we can be dynamic at times and when we’re not beating ourselves. Defensively, we have to create some stuff with our lack of size. When we do it and do it right, we’re pretty good.
“We don’t need to beat everybody in our district,” he concluded. “We just need to take that next step so come district tournament time, as long we’re clicking in February that’s all that counts.”