Millington Trojan Hunter Klutts made a tough layup in the lane, making the score 51-45 in favor of the St. Benedict Eagles midway through the third quarter of last Tuesday’s season opener at Millington’s gym.
At that moment the Trojans arrived at a crossroad: Either display the new Millington by completing the comeback against a quality opponent, or revert to old habits, letting the game slip away.
Several of the Trojans’ total 30 turnovers came in the final moments of the contest, leading to an 83-68 victory for St. Benedict.
When the Eagles halftime advantage of 45-33 was trimmed to 6 points, St. Benedict senior guards Trey Davis and Moses Fofana turned up the pressure on the Millington backcourt, forcing miscues and making clean steals, leading to breakaway baskets.
“At this moment our guard are not very good,” Millington Head Coach Jewell Gates said. “I’m a very frank person. I don’t beat around the bush. Right now our guards aren’t doing their jobs. We’ve played basically four games this preseason and tonight, and we have 105 turnovers. This is not going to work.”
He added, “Until we learn how to control a game and control the ball, we’re going to suffer. … It’s going to take a whole lot of willpower from them. A lot willpower from me. But I’m willing to put up the willpower. I just wonder if my team is.”
Davis first steal near mid-court led to him cruising to the other end for a layup to make the score 57-47. For good measure, Davis made another rip on the trip up court for the Trojans. This time his layup was contested, leading to a three-point play and a 60-47 score.
Davis had one more layup to close out the third quarter, making the score 62-50.
The Trojans traded baskets with St. Benedict early in the fourth quarter, making the score 66-56. Millington got within 8 points at 66-58 when Bobby Macklin scored in the paint. Then the Eagle defense seized control of the game when Fofana took his turn of ripping Millington guards.
Back-to-back steals became a pair of Fofana lay-ins to make the score 71-58. Trojan Rodney McGhee tried to stop the St. Benedict run with a basket, but Fofana and Davis had the answer, making defensive plays that led to more Eagles’ transition buckets.
Fofana’s final steal and layup made the score 77-60. Despite Millington outscoring St. Benedict 8-6 down the stretch, the damage was done.
When asked if his team, particularly the back court, can learn from the embarrassing display in the second half, Gates expressed concerns.
“We’re not tough enough to do so,” he concluded. “I don’t know what else it’s going to take. I’m going to keep on searching. I’m going to search for some players that will step up and say ‘I got it. I’m not going to turn it over. I’m going to control this team. I’m going to help this team.’ I’m searching right now.”