Millbrook entered Friday’s showdown between the Cap Eight’s undefeated teams averaging more than 90 points a game, but when the game came down to the wire the Wildcats turned to their defense to take a 72-67 win over Broughton to take control of the conference lead.
Senior Chris Clemons, a Campbell commit, led the Wildcats with 23 points, including the final eight points for Millbrook.
Clemons, playing with four fouls, came up with a steal at halfcourt and soared for Millbrook’s second straight dunk to help the Wildcats regain the lead with just over a minute remaining. He followed that with a steal at midcourt and breakaway layup, and then another lay-in on a long inbounds play. His two free throws helped seal the win for Millbrook (9-0, 3-0 Cap Eight) and hand Broughton its first loss of the year.
“I know how to be careful, but I just wanted to get my team the win,” Clemons said. “I just had to do anything I could to help defensively, and we need some stops, so I was able to provide that. ... We just tried to think of it as another game and play the way we usually come out and play, and it paid off for us.”
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Broughton (8-1, 2-1) didn’t make things easy, as the Caps turned a 10-point halftime deficit into a five-point lead to start the fourth quarter. Broughton senior Austin Burnette found Jerome Robinson for an alley-oop to bring the Caps within a possession with three minutes to go in the third quarter. Broughton took the lead with 1:30 to go in the third quarter on a Robinson free throw, and would lead 51-46 entering the final period.
“Broughton played really well in the third and we played horrible in the third,” Millbrook coach Scott McInnes said. “Our decisions were horrible. The turnovers really hurt us, uncharacteristic turnovers, so we just had to step up and make some plays.
“We actually got it done on the defensive end, which is weird for us. We’ve been a very offensive-minded team scoring a bunch of points, and it really wasn’t done on offense today. It was done on the defensive end.”
Andrew Evans chipped in 20 points for the Wildcats, followed by Faison Brock and Jordan Sterrett with 11 and seven, respectively.
Friday’s game attracted a packed gymnasium as two of the area’s top teams battled in a matchup that has become key in the teams’ annual battle for the top spot in the Cap Eight
“It was a classic game between the Wildcats and the Capitals. I feel like we’re in a good position, but we’ve got to do better,” McInnes said.
Robinson, a Boston College commit, led the Capitals with 18. Tharon Suggs added 15, including nine during the Caps’ third-quarter surge.
Millbrook girls handle Caps
Sophomore guards Dazia Powell and Kai Crutchfield combined for 29 points to lead Millbrook to a 58-43 win over Broughton despite a 27-point outing by Caps senior Kaila Ealey.
“That’s a great backcourt to have for the rest of the season and two more seasons, and when we’re more balanced in scoring like that, we’re really hard to guard,” Millbrook coach Chris East said. “In my mind, we need a little more balanced scoring. ... I thought we had a height advantage inside and settled for too many jumpshots early, but we’ll take a win against a quality Broughton team anytime.”
Ealey kept the Caps in the game scoring 24 of Broughton’s 32 points through three quarters, allowing the Caps to pull within four points early in the fourth quarter.
Millbrook eventually went to a deny defense on Ealey, who fouled out with 4:09 left in the game with the Caps trailing 44-39.
“Broughton again is going to be one of the better teams in the east, and I think we’ve got a lot of things to do to get better,” East said. “The game plan was to make someone besides No. 14 beat us, and we schemed through that and she still had 27. Kaila’s a warrior. ... It’s just so hard to keep her from driving to the basket.”
Brittney Smith carried much of the offensive load for the Caps with Ealey on the bench, scoring all eight of her points in the fourth quarter.
Broughton coach Brad McCorkle was pleased with the team’s overall effort despite several of the Caps’ post players being out Friday.
“Every girl that we have with height is out, but even though there was a big difference in height, I thought our girls fought really hard on the rebounds,” McCorkle said. “Overall I’m really proud of their effort.”
Broughton began fouling to stop the clock with more than two minutes left in the game, but the Wildcats made 14 of 18 free throws in the final frame to close the win.