By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The names ending the game for the Millington Trojans were Lawrence Chambers, Faizon Fields, Johnnie Austin, DeAndre Jones, Dylan Nix and Bobby Fields.
Trojans Head Coach Jewel Gates felt a need for a boost after his starters and first reserves fell behind 45-21 to the Bartlett Panthers Dec. 6 in the first half. The new faces in Black and Gold gave Millington some energy and brought some life back into the William Osteen Gymnasium crowd.
But the Panthers used free throws to keep control of the game to prevail 72-51.
“The first group wasn’t working hard enough,” Gates acknowledged. “We talk so much about hard work. Tonight might have been the first time I thought we didn’t work hard enough. Normally I can’t say that. And the other coach will say, ‘Your kids work hard.’ If not anything else, I know they’ll work hard. Tonight I can’t say that.”
Trojan Hunter Klutts put in work scoring Millington’s first 12 points. But Bartlett tallied 21 points in the first quarter with a variety of Panthers scoring.
Bartlett got baskets from Ryan Grigsby, Nick Winkler, Jefferson Walker, Marlon Sharp and Kevin Kobas.
The Panthers scored 24 points in the second quarter starting with a Jaylen Reed triple that made the score 24-12.
Millington received back-to-back buckets from brothers Johnnie and Bryce Mattox. Then Reed stroked a jumper that sparked a 15-0 run for the Panthers.
Walker drained a three-pointer to make the score 29-16. Then Reed’s hot shooting continued with a bank shot triple and basket to make the tally 34-16.
Riley Hogel increased the lead to 21 points attacking the rim and drawing a foul. Hogel’s three-point play made the score 37-16. A pair of free throws from Josh Exom made the tally 39-16.
Bartlett led 45-21 at the break leaving Gates searching for answers and a source of energy for his team.
“We had to put some different guys out there who gave us a little life,” he said. “I may have to make change. Which I’ve not been wanting to do, trying to give guys a chance to make their mistakes and not grab you so quickly — take you out so quickly. That may have to change. I have to go on and make the changes. It seems like a different group did a different thing.”
The new Millington lineup held the Panthers to 12 points in the third quarter. The Trojans started to find an offensive rhythm with forward Mac Coulter hitting a jumper and making a hook shot in the lane.
Then the Trojans’ other “big man” freshman Faizon Fields attacked the boards and became active in the lane. He drew a foul leading to a couple of free throws.
The Panthers led 57-32 heading into the fourth quarter. In the final period Millington went on a 8-4 run sparked by Nix free throws and a layup.
Bartlett’s starters had to come off the bench to stop the Millington surge. The Panthers kept pace with the Trojans down the stretch with both teams scoring 11 points.
Gates said he hopes the Bartlett outcome will wake up his entire roster as the December schedule get tougher with the Millington Christmas Tournament looming.
“Ridgeway coming now with Kingsbury dropping out,” he noted. “Middleton, Tenn., that team is coming and they’re pretty dog gone good. We saw them up a the jamboree. Trezavent will be out there with their athletic team. Their football team just won the State championship. So some of those guys will be out there.
“So we’ll have to step up a little bit more, rebound and defend,” Gates concluded. “We have to do whatever it takes or we’ll be the same old Millington. I don’t want us to be the same old Millington. I’m talking about a mentality. I want us to grow up a little bit, step up and grow up. Right now it’s molding but I want us to come on with it. We have to come on with it. It’s December now.”