CHAPEL HILL — Millbrooks eight seniors walked to center court together for one last time.
Alex Tomlinson, Mykia Jones, Briana Day, Bria Day, Courtney Best, Brianna Hinton, Katelyn Mitchell and Ryan Flowers huddled together, clutching the 2013 N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A championship banner before being joined by their teammates.
Millbrook sent its senior core out on top Saturday, defeating Greensboro Page 62-56 at the Dean Smith Center for its second consecutive state title.
The Wildcats seniors, all headed to play college basketball next year, wanted to take care of unfinished business before leaving their high school careers behind them.
Two years prior, Millbrook had been on the opposite end of the NCHSAA 4A title game in Chapel Hill.
It won the state championship last year at N.C. States Reynolds Coliseum, but Saturdays win was a two-for-one, allowing Millbrook to repeat as state champs and redeem itself from 2011s loss.
We thought we should have had another one, and to their tribute and their hard work, they dug in and got one last year, Millbrook coach Chris East said. Then I guess I wouldnt let them be satisfied, so we got another one this year, and this ones really sweet. We realize how lucky we are just to make it this far, and I couldnt be more proud of these eight ladies plus the other ones in the locker room.
Millbrook looked to its size advantage early on the Wildcats roster included four players at or above six feet tall. Page had none, rendering Millbrook virtually unstoppable near the basket to start the game.
Sixteen of the Wildcats first-half points were in the paint, as Briana Day and Flowers ran high-low post play throughout the game effectively.
Midway through the second quarter, Briana Day sent a Greensboro Page shot sailing on the defensive end. She sprinted down court to score on an assist from Tomlinson in transition.
The 6-foot-4 seniors play on both ends of the court caused problems for Greensboro. She finished with a team-high 16 points, nine rebounds and three steals, and was named Kay Yow Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive year.
Day wiped away tears as she accepted her award after the game.
Its just really emotional, Day said. Its awesome to win it with these girls.
Millbrook had to earn its win, holding off a second-half surge by the Pirates to finish the year undefeated.
Millbrooks 10-point lead after one quarter proved to be enough cushion, as Page outscored the Wildcats 50-46 in the final three quarters.
Were a second-half team, and we showed that tonight, said Page coach Deborah Jones. You take away the first half and we win by three, but at the same time its all about four quarters, 32 minutes. ... But our kids go to work and they dont back down to anyone.
Despite its lack of size against the Wildcats, Page out-rebounded Millbrook.
Pages Paris Kea tried to carry her team with a 31-point effort, 20 which came in the second half.
Though the Wildcats never trailed, they saw their nine-point halftime lead cut to four entering the final period.
In the end, Millbrook banded together one last time to hold off the Pirates run.
Flowers was named Most Outstanding Player for the Wildcats, finishing with 10 points and seven rebounds. Tomlinson added 11 points and four assists, and Mykia Jones scored 15 points.
These are like my sisters, Jones said. We may argue and stuff, but at the end of the day we all have to come together. Im really going to miss these girls next year.