The Southeast Raleigh girls basketball team has wanted to play Millbrook for more than a year.
Saturday, the undefeated Bulldogs have their opportunity to play against unbeaten Millbrook, the 2012 N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A champion. The two Raleigh schools, about 10 miles apart, have not played in girls basketball since 2010 when Millbrook beat Southeast 32-23 in the Holiday Invitational and later 33-26 in the state playoffs.
The two teams seemed to be on a collision path last year, but Southeast (then 23-3) lost to Southern Durham, 57-56, in the second round of the playoffs. Millbrook went on to win the championship with a 57-40 victory over West Forsyth.
Weve been wanting this all year, Southeast senior Amara Bell said after an 83-51 quarterfinal win over previously unbeaten Fayetteville Seventy-First. We know theyre after a repeat and theyve got a lot of good players, but well be ready.
A berth in the NCHSAA 4A championship game next Saturday at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill will be at stake in the 2 p.m. game at Fayettevilles Crown Arena. Southeast and Millbrook will take the floor after the Broughton boys play Fayetteville Seventy-First in the Eastern Regional final at noon.
Southeast and Millbrook play in different conferences and have dominated their leagues. Southeast dashed through the Greater Neuse 4A and has won its games by an average of 25.3 points. Millbrooks margin of victory is 21.3 points.
Millbrook will be trying to earn its third straight championship berth. The Wildcats lost in the finals two years ago when the current seniors were sophomores. Eight Millbrook seniors have accepted college athletic scholarships.
Its like were more of the underdog, said Southeast junior guard Alexus Hicks. We look at it as a chance to prove people who think we cant beat Millbrook wrong.
Were ready for the challenge. Its something the girls have been thinking about, had in the backs of their minds all year, said Southeast coach Nicole Meyers.
Hicks (10.7 points and 6.3 assists) leads Southeast. Kaleisha Moore averages 10.2 points and 7.2 rebounds.
Millbrooks attack is led by Ryan Flowers, who gets 12.5 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. Alex Tomlinson averages 7.7 assists.
Broughton faces 71st
Broughton boys coach Jeff Ferrell said he believes players had rather play for successful teams then to have big individual scoring averages.
The better players, if you ask them, (would) rather be on a 20-win team than to average at bunch of points, Ferrell said earlier in the year. It is something that weve talked about. It isnt always the case, but it usually is with the best kids. This team is excited by what we are doing as a team.
Broughton (26-5) faces Seventy-First (28-2) in the 4A Eastern Regional for the right to advance to next Saturdays 4A boys championship game at the Smith Center.
Seventy-First punished Clayton on the boards in a Tuesday night regional semifinal. High-scoring Gary Clark got 22 points but the Falcons shut down the rest of the Comets attack.
Broughton doesnt have a clear star and is much more balanced than Clayton. Devonte Graham (15.7 points, 5.5 assists per game) leads the Caps in scoring, but James Hemphill (12.5 ppg.) and Cam Gottfried (7.8 ppg.) also are reliable scorers.
Its going to be a big challenge, said Seventy-First coach David Simmons. Theyre a talented and proven team. They run their offense better than a lot of teams. And their guard (Devonte Graham) is just a really talented player. He will get a lot of our attention.
The Caps are allowing only 49.2 points per game and try to control the pace of the game.
We have to stop the ball early and not let them get into their offense because theyre really good at running their stuff, said Fayetteville 71st center Dominic Page, who averages 14 points and 6.8 rebounds.
Seventy-Firsts Marcus Williams and Sidney Knox average 15 and 14 points, respectively.
Tigers eye finals: The Chapel Hill girls were eliminated from the playoffs in 2012 when a last second shot bounded off the rim. Thursday night, freshman reserve Autumn Wests last-second shot went in at the end of a second overtime.
The 67-65 victory over Northern Guilford sends the Tigers (28-1) to the 3A Eastern Regional finals at 4 p.m. Chapel Hill faces a West Craven team led by Jamie Cherry (25.6 points and 2.6 assists per game).
Chapel Hill is very balanced with Jamella Smith (11.8 ppg.), Raziyah Farrington (10.3) and Catherine Romaine (10 points and 7.0 rebounds.
Other games: The boys schedule on Saturday includes Eastern Regional championship games in 4A (noon), 1A (2 p.m.), 3A (4 p.m.) and 4A (6 p.m.)
The girls schedule is 1A (noon), 4A (2 p.m.), 3A (4 p.m.) and 2A (6 p.m.)