By Thomas Sellers Jr.
BARTLETT — As of Friday night, all the teams in District 14-3A have seen each other at least once.
When the dust settled in the Bartlett Gymnasium the other night, Millington Lady Trojans Head Coach Bruce Marshall saw his young team take another step into grabbing the elusive league victory.
Meanwhile Bartlett Lady Panthers veteran Head Coach Lynn Whitfield saw her team improve to 4-1 in districts eying the top seed for February.
The final score between the Lady Panthers and Lady Trojans was 45-31 in favor Bartlett. Despite the final deficit being 14 points, Marshall said his team played well from start to finish.
“The only time I got frustrated was the Bolton game and the Kingsbury game when we didn’t come out with any intensity,” he acknowledged. “When we come out with intensity, we’ve been able to compete. With a few corrections this second time through, we might be able to surprise a few people.
“They’re so close to getting over the hump,” Marshall added. “And they know that. They know the only reason we got beat tonight is we threw the ball away too much.”
Bartlett forced some of those Millington turnovers in the second half to stretch out a close game. The Lady Panthers were ahead 11-8 after the first quarter
Bartlett tried to pull away in the second quarter with a 10-2 run sparked by Charity Savage. The junior standout hit a jumper and made two layups to make the score 21-10.
Millington stopped the rally with a Tamia Aldridge layup. The score was 23-16 at the break in favor Bartlett.
Whitfield requested more pressure from her players entering the third quarter. Full court traps and pressure defense in the back court led to a 12-4 run. Back-to-back buckets from Savage made the score 35-20. Lady Trojan senior guard Lindsey Harris concluded the period with a jumper to make the tally 35-22.
“Our press was working and we were creating some turnovers,” Whitfield said. “Once we got some turnovers we were able to move the ball on offense and get some easier layups. But the key was turning up our defensive intensity.”
Millington had a couple of highlights in the fourth quarter with a Glenda Garner three-pointer and long-range jumper. But Savage score 2 of her 21 points with a layup to make the score 41-29.
Savage finished with a triple double of 21 points, 11 steals and 12 rebounds.
The Lady Trojans left the game victims of Savage’s triple double but feeling they are on the brink of winning some league games.
“They’ve definitely improved defensively as a team as far working together and knowing where we need to be as a team,” Marshall said. “If it can get just a little bit better over these next two and half weeks the second time through the district and the first district tournament game, I expect us to be in the Region.”
Whitfield and the Lady Panthers left the court with the mindset of never taking any district game lightly with another round of games in the next two weeks.
“You have to tell them it’s like starting over,” she said. “You have to earn it every night. When you walk out there on the court every night, it’s a new game. It’s nothing to nothing.
“I think the intensity level is going to be up for some games anyway because it’s a rivalry,” Whitfield concluded. “You beat them once doesn’t mean a thing. You have to keep the same intensity level.”