An all-Durham final will headline the championship game of the Mix 101.5 Girls Bracket in the HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational.
Durham Hillside defeated Broughton 68-65 in the first semifinal Saturday at Cary Academy. Durham Riverside held off The N&O’s No. 1-ranked Millbrook in a 55-53 thriller.
The title matchup on Tuesday at Broughton High will be the first of many contests this season between the PAC-6 Conference opponents. The Pirates defeated the Hornets for seventh place in last year’s Holiday Invitational.
“We played them like five times last year,” Riverside coach Alicia Jones said. “(Hillside) Coach (Ovester) Grays and I just looked at each other as the game ended. This tells us what we’ll have in the conference.”
Hillside (10-0) defeated the Caps (6-4) for the second straight time. The Hornets won 90-64 in the second round of last season’s state playoffs.
Grays said the close score is indicative of the Hornets’ reputation.
“They (players) have to understand that they are the hunted,” he said. “Every team is going to play their best against us.”
Guard Justine Lyon led the Hornets with 22 points and nine rebounds. Nine of Lyon’s points came in the fourth quarter to help hold off Broughton down the stretch.
N.C. State recruit Kaila Ealey set a new tournament record for free throws in a game with 20. She finished with 28 points and literally kept her team in the game.
After their win over Williamston Riverside, Durham Riverside center Mone’ Jones said the Pirates (10-0) needed a quicker start against Millbrook (11-1). They got that and more by jumping out to a 22-8 lead and never trailed in the game.
The Wildcats rallied in the second half by using a full-court trapping defense and tied the game late in the fourth quarter, but they could never get the lead.
“We got beat by the better team tonight,” Millbrook coach Chris East said. “Riverside is going to be one of the best in the state.”
Riverside guard Zaria Rogers led all scorers with 23 points. N.C. State recruit Kai Crutchfield had 15 for Millbrook.