By Thomas Sellers Jr.
If the start of the St. Benedict Eagles vs. Millington Trojans’ game was about 8:15 p.m., the host Trojans would have jumped out to a 15-4 lead.
But the game started about 7:45 and the St. Benedict Eagles were able to build a 41-21 halftime advantage in the William Osteen Gymnasium. The Trojans came out in the third quarter with that 15-4 run to cut the St. Benedict lead to 45-36. The hole eventually proved to be too deep for Millington to dig out of losing 70-55.
“If we played like we did in the second half, we probably win that game by double digits,” Millington Head Coach Rob Sabau said. “We just came out flat. These guys’ identity is defense. They do it well. They pressure the ball. They create turnovers. And we didn’t do any of that at best until 3 minutes left in the second quarter.”
Sabau said after two game of the 2015-16 season, his Trojans are setting up to be a defensive Juggernaut, as long as they give the effort the entire 32 minutes.
The first 13 minutes of the St. Benedict game, the Eagles were able to go up and down the court to take a 20-7 lead after one quarter. The Eagles were ahead 41-16 late in the second quarter.
Millington closed out the first half with the final five points courtesy of Kolby Hollowell, Kelvin Jones and Bryce Mattox.
“We were almost down 30 points,” Sabau said. “I told somebody if we cut it down to 20 before halftime, we’ll have a shot. And we had a shot.”
Sabau challenge his team not to allow St. Benedict to reach the 50-point mark before the fourth quarter. The Trojans intensified their defensive efforts all over the court with pressure on Eagle guards.
Meanwhile Millington outscored St. Benedict 15-4 during that stretch. Aaron Peerey started the Trojan run with free throw. Then Mattox stole the ball and hit a layup to make the score 41-24.
After a Jones bucket, Trojan teammate Kip Fleming was next to make a steal near half court leading to a layup.
With the score 43-28, Peerey made another free throw. Jones followed with a three pointer. Then Jones went inside for a basket to make the score 45-34. The run concluded with Fleming making a layup to make the score 45-36.
But the Eagles did manage to close out the third quarter on a 7-2 run to make the score 52-38. And St. Benedict did enough in the fourth quarter to earn the victory 70-55.
Sabau said he left the game disappointed in the loss but encouraged of seeing his team’s true identity.
“We need to convince them to play that way the entire the game,” he concluded. “ When they do that we produce points. We we don’t do that, we’re not good enough offensively yet.”