Categorized | Sports

Cardinal win over Millington much-needed spark

By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Basketball Dylan NIx to rim

Brighton senior guard Zach Lewis attacks the lane going over Millington's Jonathan Mattox during last Friday night's game in Brighton.

Brighton senior guard Zach Lewis attacks the lane going over Millington’s Jonathan Mattox during last Friday night’s game in Brighton.

While the Millington Trojans were rejoicing over a 56-53 victory Nov. 28 against the TRA Rebels, the Brighton Cardinals were left trying to regroup after a loss to the Ripley Tigers.
The defeat courtesy of Ripley left Brighton 1-3 heading into the area-rivalry showdown against the Trojans. Cardinal Head Coach Stan Gatlin got his players to do some soul searching before Friday night’s match up with Millington in the Brighton Gymnasium.
“ My first thing tonight was, win or lose, I wanted us to play well,” he said. “Whatever the case was going to be, I just wanted to play good. And I think we did that.”
The fun for the Cardinals resulted in a bounce back 78-36 victory over the Trojans. Led by senior point guard Tae’lyr Gatlin, the Cardinals jumped out 18-6 after one quarter. Three nights earlier against Ripley, it was Brighton falling behind in the opening quarter.
“I stressed to my son, ‘Man, I just want you to have fun out there,’” the elder Gatlin said. “The other night you were making bad decisions and taking bad shots. You’re making the game harder than it has to be. I take the lose upon myself because I have to do a better job of making sure the guys are prepared.
“But at the same time my player/coach has to help be an extension of me out there,” Coach Gatlin added. “We both did a bad job Tuesday night. We did a better job in the fourth quarter and that extended over to this game.”
Tae’lyr was running the show for Brighton in the first quarter against Millington hitting teammate Anthony Smith with an over-the-head, no-look pass for a layup that made the score 12-2.
Millington forward Mac Coulter cut into Brighton’s first 10-point lead with a jumper. Then Brighton proceeded to outscore the Trojans 6-2 the rest of the quarter with a Jordan Johnson put-back and Gatlin breakaway slam.
The Cardinals were ahead 33-17 at halftime paced by Gatlin and fellow senior Zach Lewis. The Trojans matched Brighton’s pace with baskets by Coulter and a Jonathan Mattox jumper.
Brighton created enough separation in the third quarter outscoring the Trojans 26-10. Lewis started to heat up midway through the period hitting a three-pointer to make the score 48-23. On the Cardinals’ next possession, Lewis drained another triple.
After Lewis’ third three-pointer made the score 56-25, the highlight of the night took place with Gatlin tossing an alley-oop to his senior power forward Aaron Alston. Alston gathered the offering and deposited it into the basket with force to make the score 58-25. Brighton was ahead 59-27 heading into the fourth quarter.
In the final period, Trojan Dylan Nix had a scoring outburst with a pair of layup and a three-pointer. But the opening three-pointers by Gatlin and Lewis was enough for Brighton to outscore Millington 19-9.
“It helps build some confidence back into them,” Coach Gatlin said of the win. “Whenever you lose a game, it takes something out of you. A win puts things back into perspective — what we do, does it work? The guys understand yes it does work. It helps them to trust the system a lot more.”
Gatlin said the slow start to the 2017-18 season has rededicated his focus on helping his squad find its identity. The veteran coach said his team will work on some basics and finding chemistry in practice.
“Games are won and loss in practice,” he concluded. “I will tell them take nothing for granted. Getting them to understand that you take no day for granted, no shot for granted, no box out for granted. I always talk about to the guys about winning the game within the game.”

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