By Thomas Sellers Jr.
MEMPHIS — Several autumn days in the Memphis area feature mild temperatures during the day.
Despite that trend, in recent years the Millington Trojan Basketball team has suffered from the “Snowball Effect.” Under the guidance of Head Coach Jewell Gates the Trojans have taken a lead or kept a game close. Then the opposition would slowly build up momentum and pull away for the victory.
On Nov. 15, Millington opened up the 2021-22 season on the road in the Trezevant Gymnasium taking on the host Bears. It was the Trojans’ turn to quietly and efficiently make their opponent tap out. Millington made the Trezevant Bears submit to an 81-53 decision.
“When we put 32 solid minutes together I know we can give a good 25ish of good minutes,” Gates said. “But then we’ll have that 6, 7 or 8 bad minutes like we had here tonight. It wasn’t as prolonged tonight as it has been in the past. But if we can shorten those even more, give a good solid 27 or 28 solid minutes we’ll be a tough team.”
The Trojans started to establish their toughness in the first 8 minutes taking a double-digit lead at 15-5 when Greg Johnson scored on a layup and Blake Garner made a basket at the rim. Millington was ahead 15-8 after the first quarter.
The Bears roared back in the second quarter with a 12-5 run to deadlock the contest at 20-20. Johnson cut off the Trezevant momentum with a three-pointer. His teammate Cody McGhee followed with a layup to make the tally 25-20.
Later in the quarter Trojan BJ Gilmore drilled a couple of triples to make the score 34-23 in favor of Millington. The Trojans were ahead 40-29 at the break.
The Trojans came out of the locker room ready for the knockout blow. Behind Josh Harris, Diego Reyes and Seth Grandberry, Millington’s lead grew to 47-31.
Reyes and Harris controlled the interior with rebounding and put-back buckets.
Millington guard Grandberry was trying to find his rhythm but made shots sparingly. With contributions from Chris Barnes, Winston Moore and Garner, the Trojans surged ahead 62-44 entering the fourth quarter.
The Trojans outscored Trezevant 19-9 in the fourth quarter to prevail by 28 points.
“Tonight we scored 81 points and Seth Grandberry didn’t score anything to me,” Gates acknowledged. “He took plenty of shots, which he is going to always for us. But he didn’t make many shots. He will because I have extreme confidence in him to make shots.
“We scored 81 with him being off, that’s a good sign,” he added. “If he plays like he is capable of and he will, we will score 90 at the high school level. If you score 90 at this level, you’re going to win a lot of games.”
Gates said the 2021-22 opener gets a positive grade. But the coaching staff of the Trojans will continue to work on building cohesion to achieve the goal of 32 minutes of solid play.
“The more we get together and play together, the more we will be together,” Gates said. “That comes with practice time, ball games and getting to know people. Know where people are, where they like the ball and understand where they want shots taken from.
“That comes from that togetherness, even off the court,” he concluded. “We’ve got time. This is just game one. It is the middle of November, so hopefully we have three or four more months of this.”