By Thomas Sellers Jr.
An old cliché when rivals play in any sports is “You can throw out the records when these two hook up.”
Bolton Lady Wildcats Head Coach John Perkins wants his team to understand that phrase for all its District 14-3A games this season. On Jan. 13 Bruce Marshall’s Millington Lady Trojans brought Perkins’ lesson to life tying the game at 20-20 early in the third quarter.
But the Lady Wildcats collected their poise on the William Osteen Gymnasium court behind back-to-back triples from Heaven Thompson and Kerrice Watson to pull away for a 53-27 victory.
“We came out in the first quarter, and we were not merely ready,” Perkins acknowledged. “We thought we were going to walk in here and they were going to hand us the win. We thought we could go through the motions.
“We had to pick up the tempo,” he added. “That’s what I stressed at halftime. ‘You got to focus on your ability to score. Focus on that one layup when your name is called.’”
Throughout the first half when Lady Wildcats were called to the front line, some players missed layups and fast-break opportunities. Bolton held an 11-5 advantage after the first quarter.
In the second quarter Millington kept pace with Bolton behind three-pointers from Tamia Aldridge and Lindsey Harris.
After Harris dropped her triple from the baseline the score was 15-12 in favor of Bolton. The Lady Wildcats were ahead 20-15 at the break.
Millington came out in the third quarter with a quick burst of 5 points. Lady Trojan Marquisha Sanders nailed three free throws to cut the Bolton lead to 20-18. The Lady Trojans tied the game at 20-20 when Glenda Garner hit a bank shot.
Needing to regroup, the Lady Wildcats put the ball into the heads of their playmaker Thompson.
Like a gift from above, Heaven hit a three-pointer to break the tie.
On Bolton’s next possession, Watson took her turn to shoot a triple. The basket made the score 26-20 and Bolton ended the third quarter up 39-26.
“That was big,” Perkins said. “I almost called timeout in that situation. I thought we needed to regroup or reset. But Heaven Thompson is just a fantastic player. I just wanted to let them play the game a little bit. I like having my timeouts for the end so I let them play through some distress.”
The Lady Trojans were in distress in the fourth quarter behind the pressure defense of the Bolton guards leading to turnovers. In the final period the Lady Wildcats converted the miscues into points leading to a Bolton outscoring Millington 14-1.
“We’ve got to respect every opponent we play, especially in our district,” Perkins concluded. “You might be 0-12 going into the districts but still have a chance to upset that No. 1 seed. Or you could be the one seed and that sixth seed is going to get after you hard.”