By Thomas Sellers Jr.
It’s been a long time since the Millington Lady Trojans have beaten the Munford Lady Cougars on the hardwood.
Millington Head Coach Jason Nichols had his girls geared up for the victory Friday night in the Munford Gymnasium. The Lady Trojans were ahead 12-4 after one quarter and poised for another runaway win during Season One of the Nichols Era.
But the Munford Lady Cougars seem to relax and senior point guard Maiya Reed started to locate shooters like Abby Haun, Hannah Callahan, Brezia Cooper and Ciara Spence to help the Lady Cougars continue their win streak in the local rivalry 47-38.
“I think in the first quarter we had the deer-in-the-headlights going,” Munford Head Coach Steve Poindexter acknowledged. “And they looked like they were determined to win. They looked like they wanted it more than we did. It was one of those things, we had to settle down. We were not talking on defense.
“They were getting anything they wanted,” he noted. “Offensively, it just seemed like my girls, I don’t know if they were frozen in fear or what? We had very little movement going on. It was just hard to watch there for a little while.”
With Millington ahead 8 entering the second quarter, Munford chipped away at the deficit starting with a pair of Reed foul shots. Then Callahan drilled a pair of triples to deadlock the game at 12-12.
The Lady Trojans regained the advantage when Jontavia Bonner hit a triple. Her teammate Micaiah Halliburton added a layup giving Millington a 17-14 halftime lead.
“I guess maybe they settled in,” Poindexter said of his squad. “I think there in the second and third quarters we played much better defense. I think we were able to make some open shots. Here’s the deal when you have folks face-guarding your point guard and they’re doing box-and-one, you have to have players step up and make shots.
“If we don’t step up and make those shots, they win the game,” he added. “They have a talented team. Player for player, I think they’re more talented than we are. I knew the task before we came into the game. I knew the challenge. I’m proud of our kids.”
Munford’s defense locked in on Lady Trojans like Jerilyn Richardson, Bailey Boone, Keria McGhee, Bonner and Halliburton. Millington tallied 2 points in the third quarter.
Meanwhile the Lady Cougars achieve an output of 17 points starting with a Reed layup. Her fellow senior Spence knocked down a three-pointer followed by a Cooper triple to make the score 29-19. Reed ended the period with a bucket and Munford was ahead 31-19.
After couple of baskets by McGhee, the Lady Trojans were in position to make a comeback trailing 32-23. To complicate things for Munford, cramps limited Reed and finally took her out of the game with 6 minutes and 42 seconds remaining.
But the Lady Cougars were ready to answer the challenge of the Lady Trojans and playing without Reed. The senior guard and reigning Millington Star Female Athlete of the Year went down after making a layup making the score 34-23.
Halliburton made a pair of foul shots to make the score 34-25. Then McGhee cut the deficit to 7 points with a layup. Munford replied outscoring Millington 10-9 down the stretch to earn the victory.
“I told the kids who were in there when Maiya was having troubles with the cramps, I thought they did a really job,” Poindexter said. “That could have easily been a fold up and let them take the game from us. Then they could have said, ‘Well we were winning before Maiya got hurt.’ That’s the easy road.
“What I told Abby Haun, Brezia Cooper and Ciara Spence, they all three got a whole lot more aggressive when Maiya went out,” he continued. “I asked them, ‘Why can’t you be that way when Maiya is in there? We can be a whole lot better team.’”
Poindexter noted the Lady Trojans have gotten much better, his players took another step forward and Reed got conformation that she can trust her teammates against adversity.
“Maiya is a great leader for us,” he said. “Me working with her on being a leader, I told her part of that is trusting your teammates. She’s got to trust her teammate more and they have to stop standing around watching her play less.
“Then I think we could continue to improve,” Poindexter concluded. “I think they’re a talented team and they’re going to win some game in their league for sure. And they’ve taken a big step.”