By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Usually winning three out of four quarters equals victory.
But Friday night the young Millington Lady Trojans got another tough lesson. In the first round contest of the District 14-3A Girls Basketball Tournament in the Williams Osteen Gymnasium, Millington seemed to take advantage of hosting the event building a 20-14 lead in the third quarter over the Bartlett Lady Panthers.
But Lady Panther Head Coach Lynn Whitfield made a few adjustments and her guards started to make shots helping Bartlett pull out a 36-32 win and advance to the Semifinals. The four-point defeat ended the season for Head Coach Bruce Marshall’s Lady Trojans and the high school basketball career of his only senior Kendra Richardson.
“There’s no way we can hold our heads down after the effort they gave tonight,” Marshall said. “They scrapped, fought and did everything they could to try to help us get the win tonight. They’re intensity for 32 minutes was probably the best it’s been all season.”
Millington was ahead 7-4 after the first 8 minutes courtesy of a Richardson three-pointer, Tamia Alridge layup and Glenda Garner basket.
Tavia Rodgers cut the deficit to one point to start the second quarter hitting a jumper. The Lady Panthers took the lead at 8-7. Richardson put the Lady Trojans back ahead with a put-back bucket.
The lead changed hands twice before Millington jumped ahead 14-12. Aldridge made another basket giving the Lady Trojans a 16-12 advantage.
Millington was ahead 16-14 at the break. The Lady Trojans’ lead grew to 20-14 in the early moments of the second half.
Millington made the run with Richardson on the bench mostly with foul trouble, committing two charges.
Then the Lady Panthers were able to take advantage of Richardson’s absence closing out the third quarter on an 8-0 run to grab a 22-20 lead.
Richardson was back to start the fourth quarter. She got her teammates involved finding Aldridge in the lane for a bucket to tie the game at 22-22.
The Lady Panthers regained the lead at 24-22. Millington deadlocked the game again when Marquisha Sanders drove to the rim for a basket.
Bartlett went on a 6-0 run capped off with a Raylin Starks steal and layup. Sanders cut the deficit to 30-26 with a put-back bucket.
The Lady Panthers were able to keep pace with Millington down the stretch to earn the victory and advance to the next round. The win also ensure Bartlett a spot in this Friday’s Region 7-3A Tournament.
Meanwhile the Lady Trojans watched a season of maturity and growth come to an end. Marshall said his young players endured the tough lessons and displayed promise for the near future.
“They’ve got the ability to do it,” he said. “They’re just got to believe and go ahead of make the plays they’re capable of making. Unfortunely we couldn’t make enough plays tonight. But I feel real good going into next year with what we’ve got returning.
“The experience they’ve been able to pick up this year, a lot of teams don’t have freshmen and sophomore with the experience they got this year,” Marshall concluded. “They’re going to have to get better because next year they’ll be the main people. I feel confident they’ll be able to get the job done if they do what they need to do in the offseason.”