By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Defending District 14-3A champions, preseason favorites and a team loaded with talent like Jaylen Fisher are some of the labels for the 2014-15 Bolton Wildcats.
Despite that resume’, the Millington Trojans were going toe to toe with the Wildcats Jan. 13 in the William Osteen Gymnasium only trailing 53-48 late in the game. But in a flash the Wildcats lived up to all their credentials going up 60-48 in a matter of seconds to prevail 68-56.
“A team like that, they’re going to force some turnovers the way they play,” Millington Head Coach Rob Sabau said. “But the problem, and I just got finished telling them, I thought about half of our turnovers were unforced. We were just throwing the ball away or not catching the ball. You take those away, we win.
“I don’t know when it was 53-48 if the turnovers were unforced,” he continued. “But if you take away our unforced errors, we win the game. You can’t do that against a team like that. And you can’t do that in district.”
The district rivals took the court going blow for blow in the first quarter. Fisher and teammates Latarius Lloyd and Martavius Wilson scored the Wildcats first 11 points. Meanwhile Trojans Andrew Banks and Daverix Cleaves helped Millington keep pace with 7 points. Bolton outscored Millington 9-5 the remaining of the quarter to lead 20-12.
The Trojans came out in the second quarter on an 8-5 run to trim the lead to 5 points. Fisher snatched back moment for his team with one of his six three-pointers to make the score 28-20.
The junior guard nailed another triple in the middle of Bolton’s 11-6 run to close out the first half. The Wildcats were ahead 36-26.
Both teams scored 10 points in the third quarter with Trojan guard Julian Daughtry starting to heat up. A couple of layup from Daughtry and a three-pointer from Banks made the score 42-36.
Once again Bolton got a play to regain momentum when Archie Bradley hit a three-pointer while drawing a foul.
Bradley nailed the free throw to complete the four-point play. That gave the Wildcats a 46-36 advantage entering the fourth quarter.
Millington once again started a quarter on a solid pace when Colby Hollowell drove to the basket for a layup. The guard’s bucket sparked a 12-7 run for the Trojans.
In that span Daughtry hit a three-pointer and jumper for 5 of his 19 points. Daughtry brought the Trojan faithful to their feet when he it a baseline triple to make the score 53-48.
With possession of the ball and a chance to cut into Bolton deficit even more, Millington tried to bring the ball up the floor. But at mid court, Fisher ripped the ball and raced to the other end of the court for a one-handed slam.
For the third and final time, the Wildcats took back the momentum. When Lloyd threw down his third dunk of the night the score was 59-48.
The Wildcats outscored Millington 9-8 down the stretch to win by 12 points. Fisher finished with a game-high 33 points.
Sabau said the defeat is a bitter pill knowing how well his team played. But he added his Trojans have to cut out the self-made errors and get a stronger desire to win.
“Mainly it’s just lighting a fire underneath a few of them,” he said. “The seniors that are playing are giving their all. And some of these sophomores and our freshmen, they have some up and down nights because of age.
“Our juniors having giving us a lot at times this year,” Sabau concluded. “I think they’re the key. If they can give us a little bit more consistent effort and desire in their play, I think we can do some serious damage.”
IN OTHER ACTION: The Cordova Wolves came to town Friday night. Led by freshman standout Rodgerick Brown, the Wolves pulled away from the Trojans for a 72-53 victory. Brown has 19 points for Cordova, while Daughtry led Millington with 21 points.