By Thomas Sellers Jr.
On the surface, the game between the Arlington Tigers and Millington Trojans was a thrilling District 14-3A contest between two quality teams.
But there was more to the 70-66 Tiger victory in the William Osteen Gymnasium. Those who attended the game witnessed the most points scored by a Trojan on his home court when Julian Daughtry poured in 43 points.
Millington Head Coach Rob Sabau has said before months and all season long Daughtry has that kind of ability. The veteran coach said he was glad a gym full of spectators were treated to Daughtry on fire but was sad it came in a defeat.
“We had a guy put in 43,” Sabau said. “Not a bad night, he did OK. That’s good but we can’t rely on him getting 43 every night. We need other guys to step up and some are starting too. We have to keep plugging and keep our confidence.”
Daughtry’s confidence was on display early from the field Jan. 27. His hot shooting place him among the best single game performance for any Millington basketball player with the likes of Jasmine Newsome and Elvin Taylor.
Arlington managed to build a 16-11 lead in the first quarter behind their stars Luke Wiseman, Nathan Hoover and Adarius Avery. Millington kept close behind shots from players like Kolby Hollowell and Andrew Banks.
The Tigers increased their lead to 23-13 in the second quarter when Daughtry hit a jumper to stop Arlington’s momentum.
Later in the period Millington guard Jaterius Bryant received a pass from Daughtry nailing a triple to make the score 24-18.
The Tigers outscored Millington 7-5 the rest of the first half to lead 31-23. The Trojans would make their move in the third quarter behind Daughtry.
The senior guard started with a pair of layups. Then Daughtry got some help from his fellow senior Banks with a layup to make the score 37-33.
Moments later, Daughtry made the tally 39-37 with a three-pointer. Arlington crept back ahead 44-37 late in the third quarter. Banks stopped the Tigers’ run with a jumper.
The third quarter concluded with Daughtry hitting a pair of free throws and a triple to make the score 53-48 in favor of Arlington.
Once again it appeared the Tigers would be able to run away and hide with a 5-1 outburst to build a 58-49 lead.
But a technical foul call on Arlington with 6 minutes and 41 seconds remaining swung the momentum. Daughtry hit 3 of 4 free throws to make the score 58-52. After a Wiseman bucket, Daughtry hit a three-pointer to make the score 60-55.
Seconds later Daughtry pulled the trigger again from behind the arch finding nothing but net to make the tally 60-58.
Arlington held onto it’s slim lead with an Avery put-back basket to make the score 62-58. Banks stepped up once again for Millington driving to the rim for a layup.
Trailing 62-60, the Trojans went to another scoring option to finally take the lead. Bryant hit the three-pointer to make the score 63-62 in favor of Millington.
Wiseman regained the lead for the Tigers with a jumper. With a minute and 13 seconds left in the contest Daughtry tied the game at 64-64 with a foul shot.
The Tigers outscored Millington 6-2 down the final seconds to escape Flag City with a victory.
“We saw some good things and we saw some bad,” Sabau acknowledged of his team. “We had too many turnovers and we struggled guarding the basketball. Our on-the-ball defense wasn’t as good tonight as it has been in other games.”
In other league games the Trojans have been competitive coming up short. Sabau said throughout it all his team is heading in the right direction building toward the District 14-3A Tournament that will be held at Arlington High School.
“Things aren’t going exactly how we want,” he said. “But at the end of the day, it’s all about Feb. 13. and that district tournament. We’re just trying to get better for that day. Along the way, we want to win some but I want to see us getting better.
“The effort was good,” Sabau concluded. “We’ve just have to keep grinding and we’ll find a way to get it done.”