By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Although the holiday season is over, the Millington Trojans were in the mood to share when the Jackson Central Merry Cougars paid a visit to the Williams Osteen Gymnasium.
The Trojans’ giving nature Jan. 12 led to a nail-bitter decision with Millington prevailing 60-57 in the district contest.
“Turnovers,” Millington Head Coach Rob Sabau said. “That was why the game was close. It was the story of the entire game. We turned over the ball nearly 30 times.
“I was happy with our defensive effort,” he continued. “We haven’t been playing hard the last few games. We were feeling sorry for ourselves. We were in a little bit of a funk. We did a lot better defensively and reboundwise. But we turned over the ball a lot, more than we usually do. It was very disconcerting. If we turnover the ball against the better teams, the outcome want be quite the same.”
The Trojans tried to establish superiority against JCM taking an 11-6 lead in the first quarter behind 7 points from Cameron Crawford. The senior guard made two layups and hit a three-pointer.
Millington’s advantage reached double figures in the second quarter at 27-17. The Trojans’ 16-point outburst started with an Aaron Peerey basket in the post.
Crawford added 5 points while teammates Bryce Mattox made four foul shots. Kelvin Jones and Prensten Macon also scored during the stretch. Millington was ahead 27-20 at the break.
The second half began with the Trojans hot from the arch. Crawford hit back-to-back three-pointers to make the score 33-23. Then Jones stepped out and hit a triple to give Millington a 13-point advantage.
To close out the third quarter it was the duo of Jones and Crawford that helped Millington lead 43-29. Crawford hit another three-pointer followed by a Jones drive to the rim for 2 points. Then Crawford closed out the period with a finger-roll bucket.
Millington was ahead 18 points early in the fourth quarter after baskets by Kip Fleming and Peerey. But the Trojans’ 49-31 lead started to dwindle.
JCM rallied behind the outside shooting of Jerry Robinson Jr., to proceed with a 21-8 run to cut the deficit to 5 points.
Millington was able to nurse their advantage with foul shots from Cameron Tubbs and Fleming. The Cougars scored 5 more points but fell short 60-57.
Sabau has learned throughout his first run in the new district, there are no off nights.
“It’s good,” he said. “You’ve got the defending State champs (Haywood) and another club (Ripley) that was a State Tournament qualifier in this district. You have another team who played in Sub-State two years ago in Covington. Jackson North Side returns their whole team, so they’re pretty good. Liberty plays hard and has a couple of descent players. But we laid an egg in that game.
“We had a chance to beat Haywood, played a horrible game against Covington and one bad quarter away from making a ball game against Ripley the other night,” he concluded. “If we can just get them to play 32 minutes of intense basketball and do a little better job of valuing the basketball, I think we’ve got a shot to beat anybody in the district.”