By Thomas Sellers Jr.
With 1.3 seconds remaining on the new scoreboard in the William Osteen Gymnasium, the Millington Lady Trojans trailed 49-46 to the Ripley Lady Tigers in the first round of the District 15-2A Girls’ Basketball Tournament.
Millington Head Coach Bruce Marshall called a timeout Feb. 16 to try to devise a play that could save his team’s 2015-16 season. The inbound pass went to senior Jherika Brown. With a quick pass she located a teammate for a buzzer-beating attempt.
The shot missed and the Lady Tigers were victorious 49-46. Ripley would advance to the next round and the Lady Trojans’ season was over.
“We had some good runs to get us some leads,” Marshall recalled. “We had a chance to extend it but we just never could. We didn’t make the plays, make the free throw. We did a lot of things well as far as offensively and defensively.
“We ran three different defenses tonight,” he continued. “We ran some multiple set that we didn’t put in until late into the season to get some cheap baskets. And we got some of the results we wanted to get. Ultimately at the end we just couldn’t make the play to put it away.”
The No. 4 seeded Lady Trojans trailed 12-10 after one quarter. Ripley’s lead grew to 15-11 early in the second quarter. Then Millington responded with a quick run courtesy of a Keyona Johnson three-pointer and a pair of foul shots to take a 16-15 lead.
With baskets from Marquisha Sanders and Brown, the Lady Trojans were ahead 21-18 at halftime.
Millington came out hot in the third quarter building a 36-28 lead. Lady Trojans senior center Glenda Garner made a steal and led the fast break. She located Sanders for a layup to make the score 26-20.
Ripley managed to tie the game 28-28. Millington went on an 8-0 run starting with a Garner triple.
Tamia Aldridge added a bucket and Sanders hit her second three-pointer of the quarter.
The Lady Trojans were ahead 36-32 entering the fourth quarter.
The Lady Tigers finally tied the game at 42-42 late in the final period. Millington regained a 4-point advantage with a Garner basket and Brown steal leading to a layup.
After trailing 46-42, the Lady Tigers closed out the game 7-0 run making 5 of 8 free throws down the stretch. The Lady Trojans missed 13 free throws throughout the night.
The 49-46 score brought an end to the high school careers of Johnson, Garner, Brown and Tayunna Hickerson.
Throughout the careers of the quartet, Millington changed classifications from 3A to 2A. Two of the girls transferred and came back to Millington Central High School. They have battled the typical hardships on the court like injuries.
Marshall said Brown’s courageous tenure at Millington is the poster child of the Class of 2016.
“All four seniors have done a great job for Millington Basketball,” he said. “Little Jherika has hip surgery this summer and comes back. She just lays it on the line every night and every play. She’s a quiet leader.
“She doesn’t say a lot,” Marshall concluded. “Right there at the end, when we called the timeout to try to get that shot to tie at the buzzer, she said, ‘Coach, I want the ball.’ That says a lot about her and her character.”