By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Exiting the Brighton Gymnasium court Friday night, a couple of Munford Cougars carried their teammate Queyon Mills toward the locker room like a championship trophy.
The reason for the Cougar jubilation was Mills coming up clutch in the final seconds of the District 13-3A rivalry game against the host Brighton Cardinals. With 2 seconds left and Munford behind 34-33, Mills was fouled shooting a three-pointer.
The junior point guard stepped to the free throw line with a chance to win the game for his team. All that stood in the way was three free throws.
“I was nervous on the last three free throws,” Mills acknowledged. “But when I made the first one, I knew I was going to make the last two. Confidence got me through the first one.”
Once Mills drained the first foul shot, he calmly nailed the final two attempts to give the Cougars a two-point lead. Brighton had a shot to win it from half court, the ball bounced off the rim giving Munford a 36-34 victory.
Throughout the night both Butch Hopkins’ Cougars and Stan Gatlin’s Cardinals were trading blows. Brighton led 8-7 after the first quarter. Both teams scored 10 points in the second quarter and the Cardinals were ahead 18-17 at halftime.
The third quarter had 3 ties and lead changes. Brighton’s Terrlwayne White made layup to tie the contest at 25-25.
To conclude the third Mills hit a jumper giving Munford a 27-25 advantage. The Cougars went ahead 29-25 when Dominique Bell hit a jumper.
Cardinal forward Kolton Childress cut the deficit in half with a post move for two points. Munford regained a four-point lead when Mills hit a jump shot.
Brighton’s response again was going to Childress in the low post. The senior made the shot to make the score 31-29.
The Cardinals deadlock the game at 31-31 when White drove baseline and made reverse layup. Munford went ahead 33-31 when Bell hit a jumper with less than 2 minutes remaining.
After more than a minute ticked off the clock, Brighton tried to tie the game when Colby Butler drove to the rim and tossed up a shot. Childress secured the rebound and went back up for layup drawing a foul.
Childress’ three-point play with 33 seconds left appeared to be the game winner. After a timeout, the Cougars tried to work down the clock for the final shot of the game.
The ball ended up in the hands of Mills behind the three-point line. Once he leaped in the air for the shot, there appeared to be connect sending him to the ground. The whistle blew and the stage was set for Mills to try to win the game.
He made all three foul shot to give Munford the 36-34 win and a league victory.
“There’s still hope and with the tournament about to start, hopefully we can get it going,” Mills concluded. “It feels good to come through for my team and be a leader.”