By Thomas Sellers Jr.
BARTLETT — The Bartlett Panthers left their home court Friday night still in first place in District 14-3A.
And the their opponents the Millington Trojans headed to their locker room dejected yet again after a district contest.
Millington Head Coach Rob Sabau found himself in the familiar spot of watching his team play well enough to win against a league foe but coming up short. This time Bartlett outlasted the Trojans 61-54.
“I thought we played well four out of the five games,” Sabau noted. “ Tuesday night against Kingsbury we played terrible. And that was the worse result. I thought we were in every game in the other four. We just couldn’t get it done in the end. Besides that Kingsbury game, we’re getting better. The record is not what they want.
“But Feb. 13 is the date they want,” he added. “If we have a chance to win that game and get into the Regional Tournament, we’ve had a great season.”
Bartlett is trying to have a great season by taking the regular season No. 1 seed. And the Panthers displayed early why they’re No. 1 at the moment jumping out to a 12-0 lead behind 5 points from guard Eric McGill.
The Trojans responded with a 10-2 run to close out the quarter. Trojan standout Julian Daughtry hit a three-pointer near the end of the opening period to make the score 14-10.
Millington cut the deficit to a point early in the second quarter when Cameron Crawford drained a triple. McGill sparked Bartlett to a 7-2 run to open up a 21-15 advantage.
The Trojans closed the first half with free throws from Daughtry and Aaron Peerey. Peerey banked in his first attempt and sent his second free throw on a journey around the rim to make the score 21-18 at halftime.
Millington kept pace with the Panthers in the third quarter. The Trojans outscored Bartlett 14-13 to trim the deficit to 34-32.
The Panthers came out in the fourth quarter with buckets from McGill and Jonathan Bowlan to make the score 38-32. Daughtry snapped Bartlett’s momentum with a jumper.
For a stretch of the fourth quarter the Trojans had a response for every big shot from Bartlett. Bowlan nailed a three-pointer to make the score 41-35. Kolby Hollowell hit a jump shot for Trojans.
Next up for Bartlett was Terence Minion with a drive to the basket to make the score 43-37. McGill followed with a bucket.
Daughtry had the reply once again for Millington to make the score 45-39. The senior guard made another shot to make the tally 45-41.
After a Bowlan basket, Daughtry delivered a three-pointer to make the score 47-44.
Moments later Daughtry used his passing skills to cut the Bartlett lead to a point. He fired a pass to Peerey for a layup to make the score 49-48.
McGill struck the biggest blow of the game with his three-pointer to make the score 52-48. The Panthers outscored Millington 9-6 down the stretch to earn the victory.
With both teams having their second set of district game ahead of them before the tournament, Sabau said the game against Bartlett gives his team hope.
“Keep improving, if we keep doing that, we’re going to beat a couple of teams in this district,” he said. “We’re good enough. The younger guys are starting to get the experience.
“And the older guys are understanding what they need to do,” Sabau concluded. “We’re starting to put it all together. Right now to play the first-place team in the district on the road, I think we had a good effort.”