By Thomas Sellers Jr.
After dropping a semifinal contest the previous night to the MAHS Lions, Millington had a chance to earn third-place in the weeklong event taking on the Soulsville Tornadoes. Trojans Head Coach Jewell Gates’ squad took care of business from start to finish Friday night winning 85-46 on their home floor.
“I think we’re getting a little more confident, developing a certain little swag,” Gates said. “We’re getting toward the confidence I want us to have. I want a team that feels its going to win every single time it steps out. That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, but you have to feel its going to happen. We’re getting that type of feeling. And winning ball games kind of brings that out.”
The victory over Soulsville gave the Trojans four wins out of the last five games. Millington finished 3-1 for the week at the Osteen Tournament.
Millington left little doubt early in the game jumping out 33-13. Taveon Collier made a layup giving the Trojans a 11-2 advantage. Moments later All-Tournament selection Bobby Macklin scored on a put-back bucket to make the tally 13-5.
The lead finally reached double-figures when All-Tournament guard Hunter Klutts nailed a jumper making the score 15-5.
The Trojans went ahead 18-5 when Kaveyon Lewis drilled a three-pointer. The score was 21-5 when Klutts hit a triple.
Millington jumped ahead 26-9 later in the period when senior guard Bryce Mattox took a quick break from facilitating the basketball to drive to the rim for a layup.
Mattox went back to running the point setting up the offense to find Lewis for another three-pointer and later Klutts for a drive to the rim.
“We’re getting so much better offensively,” Gates said. “Hunter Klutts is going to score baskets. I know that. I never worry about that. Bobby Macklin has gotten so much better offensively. Collier will be that X-factor guy. Kayvon Lewis, I’ve talked about those two guys six weeks ago. Lewis and Collier, if they can five us points to go along with Bobby and Hunter. If we can have four guys in double figures, we’ll be a tough team to beat.”
Along with Mattox, other Trojan point guards setting up the Millington offense during this stretch have been Jonathan Mattox and Rodney McGhee. The trio of guards have located shooters and post threats like Dylan Nix, Jamerio Jones, Coryante Threlkeld, Joanthan Grandberry and Mac Coulter.
“We have to get better defensively,” Gates noted. “If we do get better defensively, along with our offensive output, we’ll be somebody who can go battle with the Haywoods, Ripleys, Covingtons, Bolivars and Fayette-Wares of the world. I can live with that.”
Gates lived with his team taking a 52-28 lead into the break. The score grew to 77-38 by the end of the third period.
While proud of his team’s final performance in the 2017 William Osteen Tournament, Gates pointed out to his team a proper host should play in the 7:30 game on the final night. He wants his players leaving their gym still working on the PHD program — poor, hungry and driven.
“Hopefully this will allow us to be poor,” he said. “Searching for knowledge, searching for something to get better. Feeling you are inadequate and missing something. You want to get better. That hunger, being hungry means you’re fighting for everything. You’re trying to get something. You’re empty and have to put something in it.
“The driven part is going to get what you want,” Gates concluded. “Hopefully this week we’ve gotten better in our PHD and that will lead to things down the road like that district championship, Region championship and even Sub-State championship.”