By Thomas Sellers Jr.
COLLIERVILLE — The first three days of the annal Dragon Fire Invitational at Collierville High School yield Millington Lady Trojan Glenda Garner some positive stats.
But her team was 0-3 entering its Dec. 30 showdown with the East Ridge Lady Pioneers. With Garner having a team-first approach, Millington Lady Trojan Head Coach Bruce Marshall knew it was important he pull his standout center aside to keep her spirits up.
“I talked to Glenda a little bit yesterday,” he said. “She’s been having a pretty good tournament. It’s not just about points. It’s the little things. She hasn’t been moaning and groaning about not getting the ball.”
With a more positive attitude and showing signs of being a team leader, Garner helped the Lady Trojans conclude the 2014 Dragon Fire Tournament with a 41-37 overtime victory against the visitors from Chattanooga.
“When she’s gotten the ball, it’s been in position to score one-on-one,” Marshall recalled. “She’s taking her shot. But when she gets the ball and is not comfortable, she’s done a great job all tournament of kicking out to wide open shooters. Those shooters in return have to start making them.”
On the final day of the Dragon Fire the Millington guards made enough shots and drew fouls to pull out the win.
The Lady Pioneers were making enough shots in the first half taking a 16-13 lead. East Ridge got a three-pointer from Aaliyah Martin and several layups from guard Jayla Stone.
Marquisha Sanders helped Millington keep pace in the first 16 minutes with a steal leading to a layup and draining a triple.
East Ridge tried to pull away in the start of the third quarter with a pair of buckets including a lay-in by Stone to make the score 20-13.
The Lady Trojans responded with a 7-0 run sparked by Garner. The junior post made a free throw followed by a layup and a shot in the paint. Tamia Aldridge tied the game at 20-20 with a basket in the post.
Stone regained the lead for East Ridge with a steal leading to another breakaway bucket. Millington tied the game at 22-22 when senior guard Lindsey Harris located Garner for another basket at the rim.
East Ridge led 26-22 late in the third quarter with a pair of buckets from Stone. Before the buzzer sounded Sanders hit another three-pointer to make the tally 26-25 entering the fourth.
Millington finally took the lead in the fourth quarter when Sanders picked off a East Ridge pass and raced to the other end for a layup to make the score 27-26.
The teams traded the advantage once with the Lady Trojans holding on to a 30-28 lead after another Garner bucket in the paint. Stone tied the game at 30-30 with foul shots.
Millington captured the lead at 32-30 when Garner nailed a turnaround jumper. With time running out, the Lady Pioneers put the ball in the hands of Stone. The sophomore guard drove the lane for a layup to tie the contest as regulation ended.
In the extra period, Aldridge score the first 3 points for Millington giving the Lady Trojans a 35-32 advantage. With the Lady Trojans ahead 36-32, Martin hit another three-pointer to pull the Lady Pioneers within a point.
But the Lady Trojans closed out the game on a 5-2 run including an Aldridge three-point play to win the game.
“I just hope that they can take this win and learn from the mistakes they made but also learn from the successes they had during the game that give them the opportunity,” Marshall said. “The last three games were all close games. This one we were trailing a majority of the game. But we made enough free throws coming down the stretch.
“I made a mistake there coming down the stretch in regulation,” he acknowledged. “We should have been fouling. We had some fouls to give to were they don’t even get a chance to shoot that layup to get it to overtime. They’re seeing what they need to be seeing. But we’re still not executing to the level that we need to be successful more often.”