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Senior Spark: Brighton duo helps Cardinals pull away from Trojans

By Thomas Sellers Jr.
mls-12-08-basketball-jordan-rebound

Brighton guard Alex Malone harasses Millington point guard Bryce Mattox on the perimeter during Friday night's contest in the William Osteen Gymnasium.

Brighton guard Alex Malone harasses Millington point guard Bryce Mattox on the perimeter during Friday night’s contest in the William Osteen Gymnasium.

mls-12-08-basketball-klutts-passGrabbing most of the headlines for the Brighton Cardinals in the preseason were Taelyr Gatlin, Aaron Alston and Zach Lewis.
But Brighton Head Basketball Coach Stan Gatlin said in order for his team to make history in 2017, it would take a total team effort and senior leadership. Friday night in the William Osteen Gymnasium that theory was put to the test with Lewis and the younger Gatlin having an off shooting night.
With Alston battling the size of the Millington Trojans all night, it took the first-half scoring of senior Ethan Bell and overall play of his classmate Alex Malone in the second half to help Brighton prevail 63-41.
“It’s just good for us to have more people to step up and score,” Bell said. “We need everybody to go further than we ever have before. We need us to step up as seniors because this could be our last year of playing basketball.”
In his final trip to Millington, Bell was the hot hand scoring Brighton’s first 12 points in a variety of way.
Bell used two dribble moves to score in his first two buckets in the lane. Millington kept pace with Bell with baskets from Hunter Klutts, Bryce Mattox and Bobby Macklin.
The Trojans tallied 13 points during that stretch. Meanwhile Bell hit a couple of triples to make the score 13-12.
“They denied Taelyr the ball,” Bell noted. “So I got the ball and I had to step up and do my thing.”
Alston closed the first quarter with a three-point play giving Brighton a 15-13 advantage.
Both squads had a mixture of hot spells and droughts throughout the second quarter. Lewis displayed glimpses of his typical shooting with a pair of three-pointers to make the score 21-20 in favor of the Cardinals.
Trojan Justin Austin grabbed the lead back for his team with a put-back basket. Lewis drained his third triple of the period to make the score 24-22.
To close out the first half Brighton outscored Millington 6-4 to take a 30-26 lead into the halftime break.
Millington outscored Brighton 9-8 in the third quarter. The Cardinals held a 38-35 advantage going into the fourth quarter.
The third period added to the shooting woes of Malone.
“I knew I could shoot,” he said. “In the first half I wasn’t scoring. But in the second half I had to step up and take my shot. I didn’t have any shots in the first half.”
“But you were D-ing up,” Bell told Malone. “You made a difference there.”
Malone’s defense on the backcourt of the Trojans limited Millington’s effectiveness throughout the game.
“Just being up all in somebody’s face creates pressure,” Malone said. “I forced him to turnover the ball a couple of times. I forced him to think pass.”
Malone was also thinking shot in the fourth quarter. The senior guard hit a three-pointer and drove to the rim for a bucket to make the score 43-35. After an Aaron Hall free throw and Lewis drive to the rack for a score, the Cardinals were ahead 46-35.
Mattox ended Millington’s drought with a layup. But Malone sparked another Brighton run with a three-pointer that made the score 49-37. The Cardinals pulled away outscoring the Trojans 14-4 to prevail by 22 points.

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