RALEIGH — Millbrook coach Scott McInnes said his team’s bumpy start to the season helped prepare the young team for its tough conference schedule.
“The mindset for me was that nonconference was just nonconference. I knew we were going to take some lumps,” McInnes said of his team, which includes one senior. “A lot of people look at wins and losses ... but those games helped us grow.”
With that experience, Millbrook (8-5, 5-0) won its fifth consecutive game Friday, 52-50 against Leesville Road, to remain undefeated in Cap Eight play.
Millbrook’s poise most of the game in an intense Leesville Road atmosphere, allowed the Wildcats to maintain a slight edge on the home team much of the second half.
Leesville Road (8-5, 3-2), ranked No. 12 in The News & Observer’s poll of top teams, led early on, but trailed by one point at the half.
The Pride regained the lead midway through the fourth quarter, but couldn’t hold on.
“We competed,” said Leesville Road coach Russ Frazier. “We had moments of panic, but in this atmosphere, both teams did.”
The teams traded baskets in a fast-paced game early on, with Millbrook forcing turnovers and converting them into fastbreak points.
The Wildcats took the lead with five minutes, 30 seconds left in the half on an alley-oop dunk from Cameron Sykes to Carlee Clemons.
The two linked up again to start the second half, this time with Sykes dishing the ball off the backboard and Clemons reining it in for the slam to boost the Wildcats.
Clemons led Millbrook with 16 points; Sykes added 12 points and five assists.
Leesville’s Shyheid Petteway took over for the Pride in the second half, scoring 14 of his team-high 16 points after the break.
Trailing 41-37 heading into the final quarter, Petteway scored four quick points to pull the Pride even.
Sanders Rohs would hit two free throws to give Leesville the lead with 5 minutes, 25 seconds remaining, but Millbrook went inside to Robert Brown to regain and maintain control of the lead.
The Wildcats led by six points with 35 seconds remaining, forcing Leesville Road to foul to stop the clock, but missed Millbrook free throws down the stretch left the door open for the Pride.
Leesville pulled within two points on a Petteway layup with 14.9 second remaining, but a 15-footer by Reggie Jones missed the mark as time expired to end the game in regulation.