FAYETTEVILLE — Millbrook controlled both ends of the court Wednesday, topping Cap-8 rival Broughton 67-48 in the NCHSAA 4A East semifinals.
Millbrook, the undefeated defending state champion, will play fellow undefeated team Southeast (29-0) in an all-Raleigh regional final at 2 p.m. Saturday at Fayetteville’s Crown Coliseum.
Millbrook’s height gave Broughton trouble inside, and the Caps struggled to hit shots from outside in the first half.
Broughton shot 4-24 in the first half. It went 0-6 from behind the arc and completed just one field goal in the second quarter, allowing the Wildcats to pull ahead by halftime.
Millbrook (30-0) turned a two-point first-quarter lead into a 22-point margin by the half and never looked back.
“We knew they were going to come out harder than before, and we just had to come out and match their intensity,” said Millbrook senior Mykia Jones, who led all scorers with 16 points.
Broughton (23-6) stuck with Millbrook early on, driving to the basket and getting several Wildcats players into foul trouble, but the second quarter drought doomed the Caps.
While Broughton struggled to score, the Wildcats shot 48 percent from the field, including hitting three of seven 3-pointers before the half.
“I think that one of the things that we hoped for was that they would have trouble shooting,” said Broughton coach Brad McCorkle. “When a team that big is also shooting well, it’s tough.”
Broughton made a run late in the game, cutting its deficit to 13 with two minutes, 30 seconds remaining.
While Millbrook led throughout the game, Broughton outscored the Wildcats 38-35 in the second half.
Millbrook’s zone defense proved effective in the first half, limiting Broughton’s guard-heavy offense, but Jamella Foster got hot for the Caps. The senior hit four straight 3-pointers to open things up offensively, allowing her teammates to drive to the basket.
Foster finished with a team-high 14 points. Sophomore Kaila Ealey added 13.
McCorkle said Millbrook, which was aiming for its third consecutive state finals appearance, was familiar with the big stage of the regional tournament, which likely benefitted the Wildcats.
“It’s been a while since the Lady Caps have been this far in the playoffs, and I’m proud of them,” said McCorkle, a first-year coach at Broughton.
Broughton, a No. 6 seed, entered the regional tournament after upsetting two teams on the road before meeting top-seeded Millbrook.
The Wildcats were a familiar opponent for the Caps, as the two teams had met three times in the regular season and the Cap Eight tournament. Millbrook won all four meetings.
“It was a great season,” Foster said after the game. “I’m glad we make it this far.”
Though it will lose seniors, Broughton returns several key components, including leading scorer Ealey and her sister Nadine, a junior and the team’s assist leader.
Going forward, Millbrook coach Chris East said the Wildcats will have to be tougher defensively. Southeast Raleigh scored 83 points in its semifinal win over Fayetteville’s 71st on Wednesday.
Ryan Flowers and Briana Day contributed double-doubles with 11 rebounds each for Millbrook. Flowers scored 14 points and Day 11.
Alex Tomlinson scored 15 and dished out nine assists.