By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The scouting report on the Munford Cougars coming into Friday night’s rivalry game against the Millington Trojans was they are young and lacking varsity experience.
But quietly the Millington Trojans have a similar profile with only two seniors who saw major minute last season in Julian Daughtry and Demarius Curry. With many expecting the Trojans to control the game in front of the William Osteen Gymnasium crowd, the Cougars under the guidance of veteran Head Coach Butch Hopkins stayed within striking distance. The Trojans fought off their gamed rivals to hold on for a 49-46 victory.
“They do some good stuff offensively to help keep them in games,” Millington Head Coach Rob Sabau said of the Cougars. “They take their time. They’re inexperienced but they are way more disciplined in their offense than we are.
“We struggle shooting the ball, one reason is because we take bad shots,” he continued. “I felt they did a very good job of being disciplined on offense, slowing the game down.”
Playing to Munford’s pace, the Trojans were only ahead 11-7 late in the first quarter. The period ended with Millington’s Kelvin Jones tossing up a three-pointer finding nothing but net to make the score 14-7 heading into the second quarter.
Munford came out in the second period with a 9-0 run led by guard Queyon Mills. Using a variety of ways, Mills helped the Cougars take a 16-14 lead with a trey, layup and foul shots.
The Trojans closed out the first half on a 10-0 run to take a 26-14 advantage into the locker room. Sabau employed the speed of Curry, Daughtry and fellow senior Andrew Banks to drive to the basket for layups.
The Cougars scored their first half total in the third quarter with scoring plays from Mills and Dominique Bell. Millington got timely baskets from Banks and two more Trojan seniors Carlos Lipsey and George Anderson to lead 34-28.
Millington nursed its six-point lead in the fourth quarter. Munford cut the deficit to 40-37 late in the final quarter when Mills hit a bank shot. The Trojans answered quickly with a three-point play from Anderson with 2 minutes and 40 seconds remaining. On the next Millington possession, Daughtry fired a pass to a cutting Curry for a layup to make the score 45-37.
Munford once again rallied to cut into Millington’s lead to make the score 45-42. But down the stretch Millington made free throws to prevail 49-46. Sabau said he was happy with the win but noted for most of the game his team’s execution was lacking.
“We started out, the first three times we touched the ball, we turned it over,” he recalled. “We stop them three, four straight times. But that doesn’t do you any good when you turnover the ball. A team with six seniors, you expect to be a little bit different. Two of those seniors we just got off the football field. We discovered a sophomore we like and a freshman and played them a lot.”
Sabau said at this point of the season he has to remember the true scouting report on his team heading into the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Although we have seniors, we don’t have that much in-game experience,” he concluded. “They’re still learning. They’re still learning what is a good shot and a bad shot. Once we get that down, I think we’ll be OK.”