By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The Millington Lady Trojans tallied 27 points after nearly 30 minutes of action.
Bolton Lady Wildcat Amelia Simpson was also at the 27-point mark at that time. Fortunately for the Wildcats, Simpson’s efforts had the game deadlocked Friday night in the William Osteen Gymnasium.
But for the Lady Wildcats to pull off the upset and earn their first District 15-2A win of the season it was going to take a team effort. Bolton Head Coach Sarah Condra encouraged her seniors to lead the way and the younger players to step up. Simpson’s fellow senior Tityana Kelly hit a jumper that made the tally 29-27 in favor of the Lady Wildcats.
That set the stage for a young Lady Trojan to make a clutch play. Daijah Dailey hit a fall-away jumper to even the score at 29-29.
Bolton raced down the court and eventually had an out-of-bounds play. Condra employed her senior standout Simpson to take out the ball.
“I think it really worked to our advantage because everybody was expecting me to score,” Simpson said. “I knew from watching the game when we took the ball out of bound from below all eyes would be on me. So I knew when I passed it in, to look for JJ. Our coach told her to cut straight to the basket — that’s what she did, and I located her for the basket.”
Janiya Bailey gathered the pass from Simpson and make the layup, giving her team the 31-29 victory.
“It feels really good because I knew all those other games shouldn’t have turned out the way they did,” Simpson said. “I knew when we come back to play them at their place we could win as long as we came out here, played the way we’re supposed to. It feels really good.”
On the other side of the court, Millington Head Coach Nick Buford acknowledged his team didn’t have the right mindset entering the game after winning the previous matchup 48-34 on Jan. 7.
“We were not focused,” he said. “We were in the huddle and I’m giving out instructions, they were talking. We were not focused. The energy was not there. Just young. I was telling people what to do and they were doing the exact opposite. This is a young team.
“A lack of focus and things like this, honestly they’re hard to come back from,” Buford continued. “Because this time of year you’re supposed to get the ones you’re supposed to get. Not a knock on Bolton at all, but this was one we were supposed to get. This one slipped through our fingers. Now you have to learn how to bounce back from a game like this.”
Millington appeared to be on its way to another win over Bolton, taking a 9-3 lead in the first quarter. Dailey got the Lady Trojans started with a three-pointer and jumper. Her teammate Jamiya Turner had a put-back basket and Madison Turner hit a bucket inside. The Lady Trojans only scored 6 points in the second quarter. Meanwhile Simpson made 5 points, including a triple. The halftime score was 15 Millington and 8 Simpson. The Bolton senior exerted herself in the third quarter with a couple of drives to the rim for layups. Millington post players Turner and Savannah Spearman stopped the Simpson outburst with 3 combined points. After another Simpson basket, Lady Trojan Micaiah Halliburton drove to the rack for a layup to make the score 20-14. The scoreboard read 24-17 in favor of Millington, entering the fourth quarter. Simpson went on a 10-3 run to start the final period. Bolton had to get others involved to pull off the upset. Kelly hit a jumper on the elbow to give the Lady Wildcats their first lead.
With less than 10 seconds left in the game, Bailey made a layup to give Bolton its second and final advantage of the game.
“This win is really going to build momentum,” Simpson said. “We always knew we could win, but seeing it is really going to push us. We really can do this. It’s not just the coach or the seniors telling us. We know we can.”
Meanwhile the Lady Trojans got another lesson in learning how to win … beating a team the second time around.
“I hope they learn you’ve got to fight a whole 32 minutes,” Buford concluded. “I hope they learn to trust game plans and not stray away from game plans. I keep going back to that ‘F’ word. You’ve got to focus. That third and fourth quarter, we were not focused. Things we asked them to do, weren’t being done. This is something we did to ourselves. This one of those games I won’t sleep for a little while.”
By Thomas Sellers Jr.