CHAPEL HILL — The pressure had mounted for Millbrooks girls basketball team. One quarter remained in the Wildcats season. Someone needed to make a play.
Guard Taylor Houston had a breakaway layup with the Wildcats down eight. But the ball rolled off the rim. Center Briana Day, who had led the Wildcats in scoring all year, struggled to score against a shorter defender. Then came the tipping point: A wide open three-point for guard Katelyn Mitchell, the kind that could ignite a comeback.
The shot fell short of the basket.
After advancing to their first state championship game in school history, Millbrook ran out of gas in falling 44-35 in the 4-A championship game at the Dean Smith Center.
Or maybe, Millbrook simply ran into a Southwest Guilford team that was determined to make the game so ugly there was very little flow to the game at all.
The strategy clearly bothered the Wildcats, and it started early, with Millbrook playing a forgettable first quarter by making just one basket.
Unlike most games this season, it was the Wildcats (31-2) who needed to talk to one another after every whistle. Heads were bowed, and confusion covered faces by the fourth quarter.
Communication on the floor had been the one of the Wildcats strengths this season. Yet in the first half, Millbrook struggle to understand Southwest Guilfords full-court defense.
Once the Wildcats advanced the ball to halfcourt, the Cowgirls (30-2) were committed to packing their defense in the paint, which did enough to ify Millbrooks height advantage and put the pressure on the guards to score.
And even though the Cowgirls held the momentum throughout, the Wildcats felt they still had a chance down eight to start the fourth quarter.
Millbrook still had to answer its biggest question of the game: How were the Wildcats going to score?
The unforced errors by Millbrook were the reason the Wildcats never really pushed the Cowgirls in the fourth quarter.
Millbrook cut the deficit to six, but Southwest Guilford point guard Zena Lovette was calm with the basketball late. Lovette led the Cowgirls with 14 points and also had seven rebounds.
Millbrook was lead by Houston, who had 10 points.
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