By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Instead of thinking about the Kingsbury game from a few days earlier, Millington Trojan Jordan Browning was thinking win during the closing moments against the Bartlett Panthers.
The senior guard wanted one more shot Friday night in the William Osteen Gymnasium, with the Millington faithful nervously watching a 17-point first half lead evaporate into a 52-50 deficit with less than 10 seconds remaining.
Browning got that chance and drained a triple with 4.6 seconds left giving the Trojans a 53-52 lead. But the game wasn’t over yet.
After a foul was called on Millington, the Panthers had a chance to win the game with a pair of foul shots. The Trojan fans became the sixth man rocking the bleachers and making noise leading to both free throws missing their mark.
When Nick Hunt secured the rebound, the Trojans had a victory and Browning finally started to have memories of a past Millington game.
“It’s one of the most memorable shots in my Trojan career,” he said. “I hit one a couple of years ago over Austin Nichols at the buzzer. But this one is up there.”
Although Browning and his teammates were thinking about the Jan. 21 Kingsbury contest some of the spectators in the gym were talking about it. That night the Trojans were dominating the Falcons building a large first half advantage. But Kingsbury rallied to pull away for a District 14-3A victory.
“We weren’t really thinking about that game,” Browning said. “Every team makes a run. Kingsbury we had them down but every team is capable of making a run. We just had to keep our heads and I’m glad we did.
“Losing our cool against Kingsbury hurt us,” he added. “We turned it over a couple of times against Bartlett but we got it working again. I didn’t think it was going to be déjà vu.”
In order for it to be déjà vu, the Trojans had to build a large lead again. Millington was ahead 14-5 after 8 minutes with a Devynn Brandon three-pointer, Roddarius Pitts scoring 3 points, Julian Daughtry nailing a trey and Browning canning a triple.
In the second quarter Daughtry stole the show using his dribbling skills to create baskets. The junior guard opened the period with another three-pointer to make the score 17-5.
Daughtry added to Millington’s lead when he drove up court and used a behind-the-back dribble to create space to attempt a floater.
Daughtry scored six more points in the period including a spin move leading to a bucket. His teammates Devontae Winston and Pitts added to the Trojans’ scoring building a 34-16 halftime lead.
The Panthers made a small rally in the third quarter. The Trojans were able to fight off Bartlett’s initial push courtesy of Pitts. The senior guard scored 6 points to close out the third giving the Trojans a 48-35 lead.
But Millington’s 13-point lead was not safe. The Panthers’ second run did the trick with Bartlett outscoring the Trojans 13-0.
Panther Desmond Howard got the run started with a 3-point play. Then the duo of Eric McGill and Alto Jones tallied the next 10 points.
Pitts stopped Bartlett’s momentum with a put-back bucket. On Bartlett’s next possession, McGill gave his team its first lead of the night hitting a three-pointer.
A few seconds later Jones made the score 52-50 making a foul shot with 27.2 seconds remaining.
The Trojans brought the ball upcourt and Head Coach Rob Sabau called a timeout to set up a play. With an experienced sharp-shooter like Browning, Sabau drew up a play for the senior guard.
Coming free up top behind the arch, Browning released the ball in one motion. The shot hit nothing but net giving the Trojans a 53-52 lead.
Bartlett’s Head Coach Anthony Smith used a timeout to set up a play with 4.6 seconds left. The Panthers got the ball into the hands of their point guard. Racing up court he was able to draw a foul with 1.1 seconds remaining.
With the first free throw coming, Browning walked to all his teammates to remind them the Trojans were out of timeouts and what play they would run.
The first foul shot bounced off the rim. Then Browning became a cheerleader motioning to the crowd to get louder.
“At the end the fans really came in,” he said. “When they come out and support us, our homecourt advantage is one of the best in our district. I think it’s one of the best in the city. I love our fans even though we don’t get that much contribution all the time. Tonight they showed up and helped us a lot in the end.”
The noise probably worked with the second free throw missing as well. The Trojans earned their first district win of the season.
Browning is hoping the victory is the first of many in league play. And the senior wanted to remind the residents of Millington that the Trojans will host the 2014 District 14-3A Tournament.
“There should be double tonight’s attendance,” he concluded. “We should have everyone here. We need your support.”