By Thomas Sellers Jr.
As the Brighton Cardinals were overcoming an early Millington Trojan advantage, Brighton standout sophomore Taelyr Gatlin took a blow to the head.
After falling to the Brighton Gymnasium court, the younger Gatlin was escorted off the floor in a daze by his father/Head Coach Stan Gatlin and a trainer. Taelyr left the court with his team ahead 30-22.
The Trojans started to mount a comeback with three-pointers from Cameron Crawford and Kelvin Jones to make the score 30-28.
Brighton needed to stop Millington’s momentum. Cardinal guard Colby Butler seized control of his team by running the point. He located teammate Zach Lewis for a three-point play.
And Butler’s foul shot kept Brighton ahead 34-31 at the break.
“When I went out, I couldn’t really see because I was dizzy,” Taelyr recalled. “He did good plays from what I heard.”
Butler kept up the solid play throughout the second half accompanied by teammates Tramaine Cooper, Gatlin and Lewis leading to a 75-66 victory.
“It took a lot of hard work and we had to execute,” Gatlin said. “We couldn’t beat them without execution. We executed really well and pushed the ball down the court. We scored after we got stops. All we have is pure athleticism and good defense.”
Either Brighton’s defense took a few minutes to warm up or the Trojans were executing their offense well enough to build an 18-15 lead in the first quarter.
Millington players like Kip Fleming, Kolby Hollowell and Crawford paced the Trojans. Crawford drained a three-pointer at the end of the opening quarter to break a 15-15 tie.
Brighton outscored Millington 19-13 in the second quarter. After Fleming hit a layup in the lane to start the third quarter, the score was 34-33.
The Cardinals responded with a 14-2 run. Early in the rally Butler made a layup giving Brighton a 40-33 lead.
After a Jones to Fleming bucket made the score 42-35, Gatling hit back-to-back triples. Then Cooper added a three-point play that made the scoreboard read 51-35.
Millington closed out the third quarter outscoring Brighton 11-8 to enter the fourth quarter down by 13 points.
Brighton’s lead great as large as 69-50. The Trojans clawed back into the game with a 10-0 run highlighted by a Jones three-pointer.
Millington climbed with 8 points when Hollowell drained an NBA-range three-pointer. But the 71-63 score would be as close as the Trojans would get.
Butler and Lewis closed out the game at the free throw line. Butler and Cooper finished the game with 9 points. Lewis reached double digits with 13 points. And Gatlin was the high-scorer for the night with 30 points.