T.R. Miller beats Anniston, Sends Retiring Coach to Class 4A Girls Title Game

By Josh Bean | For the AHSAA

 BIRMINGHAM – T.R. Miller High School basketball coach Ronald Jackson’s 41-year Hall-of-Fame coaching career will end in the championship game.

The Tigers (26-3) from Brewton rallied past Anniston (29-50, coached by Eddie Bullock, in Tuesday’s Class 4A girls state semifinal at the BJCC’s Legacy Arena, using a 13-0 run in the second half for a 33-28 victory over Anniston. The victory sends the legendary Jackson and his  T.R. Miller girls’ team into the state finals one more time.

“We’re ecstatic to do this, not only for our team and for coach Jackson,” T.R. Miller guard Meg Fountain said. Added teammate Natasia Reed, “Yeah, we want to take him all the way.”

Anniston’s Serena Hardy (23) takes a shot in the 4A girls’ semifinals as T.R. Miller’s Bethany Simmons (10) defends. (AHSAA PHOTO | David Holtsford)

Jackson led the Tigers to girls’ state titles in 1995, 1996, 2002 and 2009, as well as runner-up finishes in 2004 and 2020, and his T.R. Miller program won 62 straight games in the mid-1990s, He also led Monroe County to the school’s only girls basketball state championship in 1985 and led that team to a win in 1986 over Hartselle in the state tourney that snapped a 62-game winning streak which was the longest in AHSAA history at the time. Ten years later, his T.R. Miller team tied that mark with 62 wins from 1994-1996.

Jackson, who was inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2023, announced recently that he plans to retire at the end of the school year. He came into the

2024 state tourney with 1,047 wins and 342 losses coaching both girls and boys.

“Just a tad bit ecstatic,” he said when asked about his emotions after clinching a spot in the title game. “We can’t lose. You make it to last game of the season, it means you played in every single, solitary game that you could possibly play in. It’s a blessing.”

Click here to checkout schedules and scores from the 2024 AHSAA State Basketball Finals. 

Jackson and his Tigers weren’t feeling ecstatic at halftime, after shooting 3-for-13 from the field, 0-for-4 from 3-point range and 0-for-2 from the free throw line. Anniston led 13-6 at the break and pushed the lead to 19-8 early in the third quarter.

That’s when T.R. Miller delivered its decisive 13-0 run, as Anniston’s offense lost its rhythm.
T.R. Miller’s Serenity Mitchell scored all of her 11 points in the second half, including 7-of-10 at the free throw line as she became the primary ball handler in the final minutes. Fountain added seven points and three steals, and Jadin Curry had six points and 10 rebounds.

“I think they made a few more plays than we made,” said Bullock, who has led Anniston to nine state semifinal appearances, with one  – in 2020 – ending with a state title. “We made a few mistakes at key moments.”

T.R. Miller advances to play Good Hope (32-2), which ended the regular season ranked No. 1 by the Alabama Sportswriters Association in Class 4A, in Friday’s championship game. Tip-off on Friday is set for Friday at 4 p.m.

“It’s been a good run with these Lady Tigers,” Jackson said. “It’s a small bunch, but they’ve got a big heart. They’ve worked hard, and it paid off.”

Play in the AHSAA State Finals continues Wednesday at the Legacy Arena as Classes 6A and 5A open their tourneys, and Class 7A plays Thursday morning. Championship games will begin Thursday in Class 1A. Finals for Classes 2A, 3A and 4A will be Friday, and Classes 5A, 6A and 7A close out the 2024 state tourney on Saturday.

All semifinal games are being live streamed over the NFHS Network’s subscriber-based platform and live on the AHSAA TV Network.

All 14 state championship games will be aired live over the Alabama Public Television Network and live streamed over the NFHS Network.

Cover Photo: The T.R. Miller defense, lead by Meg Fountain (23) and Lyrik Hails (12) swarm Anniston’s Tykeria Smith (33). (AHSAA PHOTO | David Holtsford)

Leave a Reply