By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Learning how to win can be a tough process.
The Millington Trojans came up short 53-45 Jan. 5 to Liberty. Three days later, the Trojans had a chance to bounce back in another District 15-2A contest in the William Osteen Gymnasium. This time the inside/outside combo of Xavier Alston and Isaiah Crawley paid a visit to Millington with the Ripley Tigers.
Millington pushed the Tigers early only trailing 24-21 midway through the second quarter. But Crawley tallied 11 points and Alston led all scorers with 20 points to help Ripley prevail 71-48.
The Trojans fell behind 19-10 after 8 minutes. Then Millington settled down the tempo and used good passing to create offense outscoring Ripley 14-12 in the second quarter.
Coming out the locker room behind 31-24, the Trojans blinked and Ripley was ahead 55-36 heading into the fourth quarter.
“Turnovers and we lost our intensity on defense,” Millington Head Coach Rob Sabau said of the third quarter. “We only had a couple of turnovers there in the second quarter. We played hard on defense. We can compete, but if we don’t do those kind of things, we’re not a team that can just go out there and go through the motions and be competitive.”
Millington was behind 24-14 early in the second quarter when Kelvin Jones hit a three-pointer to spark a 7-0 Trojans run.
Jonathan Mattox made the score 24-19 with a hop-step in the lane leading to a layup. Moments later Cameron Crawford located teammate Justin Austin for a bucket. The Trojans were behind 24-21.
The Tigers ended the Millington run with a basket. Jones made the score 26-24 hitting an NBA-range triple.
Ripley closed out the second quarter with the final 5 points to lead 31-24 at the break.
“They were playing basketball instead of street ball,” Sabau noted of his players. “The biggest problem these guys have, they go back to the habits they picked up along the way before they came here like dribbling in place, dribbling to crossover and going through there legs.
“They’re not going anywhere with it and the other team just sticks in their hand and take away the ball,” he continued. “The second quarter, they didn’t do those things. They moved and moved the ball and got good shots as a result.”
The third quarter belong to Alston and the Tigers. The guard hit pull up jumpers and threw down a slam helping Ripley outscored Millington 24-12 in the period.
Coming close in two district games left a bitter taste in the mouths of the Trojans. Millington is trying to bounce back taking on new league foes from the north in Jackson Central Merry and Jackson North Side.
“We’ve been telling them all year, they have the potential and they have the places to be a good team,” Sabau concluded. “They just need to learn how to play the right way and learn how to win the close games. The season is a learning process. You want them to be able to get it at the end.”