RALEIGH — Millbrook’s conference season began Friday against the same team the Wildcats’ Cap Eight schedule ended last season.
After falling to Broughton in the conference tournament last year, the Wildcats prevailed, holding off a fourth-quarter Caps surge to win 51-50 in the conference opener.
Broughton pulled ahead on a Devonte Graham layup with 6:30 remaining in the game, but Millbrook’s Cameron Sykes kept the Wildcats within striking distance, scoring seven of his team-high 13 point in the final period.
Millbrook (4-4) regained the lead three minutes later on a three-point shot from Brandon Goldsmith and wouldn’t relinquish it again despite a few scares down the stretch.
The Caps kept it close, picking up the defensive intensity and trading baskets with the host Wildcats, until the final buzzer.
Down three with 22 seconds remaining, Graham dribbled some time off the clock and took a deep three-point shot to try to tie the game. The shot missed, but Cameron Gottfried was there with the tip-in to put the Caps back within one point with five seconds left.
Coming out of a timeout, Graham intercepted a Millbrook inbounds pass at halfcourt and found James Hemphill in the corner, but the last-second shot sailed long as time expired.
While Broughton coach Jeff Ferrell was proud of the fight his team showed down the stretch, he said poor free throw shooting downed the Caps’ comeback effort.
“We shot 30 percent from the free throw line and we lost by one point,” he said.
Broughton (7-1) found itself down 19-12 after the first quarter and spent much of the game playing catch-up, but each time Broughton made some headway, the Wildcats were there to kill the momentum.
Coming into the conference opener, the Caps, ranked No. 2 among area teams, were undefeated. Ferrell said the team may have been afraid to lose rather than playing to win in the first half, which was something he discussed with the team at halftime.
“I liked how they responded in the second half,” Ferrell said. “Coming out of the locker room, they had a different look about them. ... We’ve got a lot of room for growth, but I love the heart and the effort they showed.”
Graham’s game-high 17 points paced Broughton throughout the game, while Goldsmith matched Sykes with 13 to lead the Wildcats.