By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The 2017-18 Millington Trojans have a chance to build a solid foundation for their four seniors.
Head Coach Jewell Gates is hoping November is laying the ground work for his 12th graders Dylan Nix, Coryante “Thurl” Threlkeld, Mac Coulter and Bryce Mattox to be the pillars of a winning tradition.
On Nov. 20 the Millington Trojans welcomed the Memphis Nighthawks to the William Osteen Gymnasium. The Trojans sparked by their seniors and a scoring boost from Hunter Klutts raced to a 83-53 win over Memphis.
“We’re getting better and that comes with the maturation,” Gates said. “Offensively, we’re much, much, much better. Bryce is handling stuff a little bit better as a point guard. We know Hunter Klutts is going to score baskets. One thing I can go to sleep at night and know the next day for sure, Hunter Klutts will score.
“We’ve got Kaveyon Lewis, once he gets over being a sophomore, its just him being in the 10th grade,” he continued. “Once he gets over that, he’ll come out quicker. Once he starts making shots on one side and Hunter making shots on the other side, then we’ve got Taveon flying in from the wing. Bobby Macklin and Faizon Fields inside, then my center “Big Red” is getting back into basketball shape. Once he gets into basketball shape and it’s coming, we’ll be that much better because he will will us. Mac Coulter will make us into a better basketball team.”
Coulter recently came off the football field competing for the gridiron Trojans. Now he is working back into the rotation along side Macklin and Fields in the post. The point guard spot has been under the control Bryce his younger brother Jonathan and Bobby McGhee so far this season.
The trio was busy getting all the Millington offensive options into the mix against the Nighthawks. The Trojans scored 18 points starting with Macklin and Taveon Collier scoring in the paint giving Millington an 8-4 advantage. The Trojans outscored Memphis 10-4 the rest of the period when Klutts heated up with a pair of three-pointers.
The Trojans’ 18-8 first quarter lead great to 37-11 in the second quarter. Klutts drilled another triple early in the second period.
Later in the frame, Bryce used his defense to create points. He made a steal near half court and located a racing Klutts for a fast break basket making the tally 29-11.
Then Nix had a chance to shine helping the Trojans establish more breathing room hitting a pair of three-pointers. Nix’s second triple made the score 37-11 and Millington was ahead 37-13 at the break.
“Dylan Nix maybe will be our x-factor this year,” Jewell said. “I never promised him he will play every night. But when he’s producing I’ll keep him out there. But when he’s not producing, he will come out. As a senior I think he understands that and what he has to do to play. Not necessarily that you have to make 5 jumpers. He knows he has to play hard on the defensive end as well as on the offensive end to get his shot off.”
The Trojans got plenty of shots off in the third quarter scoring 20 points. When Collier made another put-back bucket the tally was 57-32 heading into the fourth.
Millington scored 26 point in the fourth quarter with contributions from several Trojans. Some of the highlights were another Klutts three-pointer and 5 points from Fields. The 6’7 post player made a put-back basket making the score 74-45.
On Millington’s next possession, Fields was located by Mattox standing behind the arch. Fields launched a three-pointer and drilled the shot making the tally 77-48. Then Thurl got into the scoring act with a bucket in the paint.
Gates said he was pleased overall with his team’s offensive performance. And he saw four positive signs from his upperclassmen by the conclusion of the game.
“A little more vocal leadership,” he acknowledged. “I think the basketball part will take care of itself. Bryce is doing the basketball part. Bryce talks. Mac Coulter has to talk a little bit more. Dylan and Thurl have to lead by what they do out there once they get out there. They don’t necessarily have to be as vocal.
“But Bryce I want to be very vocal,” Gates concluded. “And Mac as the captain of this team, it’s his team. He’s the captain. He shapes this team. So he has to talk more and he will. By nature he’s not a very talkative person. That’s just who he is but we’re going to bring him out of that quiet boy stuff. I’m the only quiet one around here.”
By Thomas Sellers Jr.