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Jackson girls’ late charge falls short against T.R. Miller

Jackson’s Angel Powell puts up a shot against T.R. Miller’s Meg Fountain Wednesday in the Class 4A girls South Regional final at Garrett Coliseum in Montgomery. Powell had 14 points and 13 rebounds in the Aggies’ 37-35 loss. (Helen Joyce/Call News)

 

By JIMMY WIGFIELD

MONTGOMERY — Jackson fought back from a 12-point deficit, only to see its season end under a pile of bodies writhing and clawing for a loose ball beneath the goal.

Despite the scrum and the possession arrow pointing to the Aggies, T.R. Miller was awarded the ball after calling a timeout with 18 seconds left and held off No. 4-ranked Jackson’s late charge for a 37-35 victory in the Class 4A girls South Regional finals Wednesday at Garrett Coliseum.

The Aggies (29-3) never led after an atrocious first period in which they scored just one point and trailed by as many as 12 points in the second period. But with the Tigers leading 36-30 with 1:28 remaining, Jackson’s full-court pressure began to take a toll, forcing four successive turnovers the Aggies used to cut the lead to 36-34.

Jackson’s Tyra Caves was fouled on a driving layup and rattled in the first of two free throws to make it 36-35 with 20.2 seconds left. The second foul shot sloshed out of the rim and most of both teams fell on the loose ball in a frantic attempt to gain possession.

Miller coach Ronald Jackson called timeout and the Tigers were awarded the ball. Bethany Simmons made a free throw with 10 seconds left and, as the Aggies maneuvered for a tying or winning shot, Adrianna Morning’s steal secured the victory.

“That was a major call,” somber Jackson coach Trinnia McKenzie-Smith said. “Nobody had possession of it, so how can they take the timeout?”

But Smith said the game was lost long before that.

“We lost because we finally decided to play in the fourth quarter,” she said. “We waited too late to play and one point in the first quarter didn’t help.”

Angel Powell led the Aggies with 14 points and 13 rebounds but the Tigers held Jackson to 22% shooting and seemed to snatch every crucial loose ball.

“They whipped us on some possessions,” Smith said. “They got offensive boards and outhustled us to loose balls. They outworked us. They wanted it more.”

It was also the third time Miller beat the Aggies this year and kept Ronald Jackson’s legendary coaching career alive for at least one more game in the state tournament.

As usual, the Tigers won with the defense their coach loves.

“We’ve been playing defense all year,” Jackson said. “We’ve got some small kids but they don’t mind scrapping. They hustle and they work hard. If I had to go out and fight, I’d choose them.”

Jackson, 66, announced his retirement in January after five state championships and 1,000 victories in 41 seasons and said the run to the state tournament, while satisfying, wouldn’t change his mind about ending his career.

“I’ll feel a whole lot better if we do win the whole thing,” he said. “I’m not saying we will. It’s been a good career. But I’m not going to rethink it. It’ll take a whole of money for me to rethink that. The grandkids are almost grown. I’m 66. I look good but not that good.”

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