The Broughton girls and Millbrook boys advanced to the third round of the N.C. 4A basketball tournament Monday night after a doubleheader at Millbrook.
The Broughton girls stunned top-seeded Millbrook 44-38, and the Millbrook boys defeated East Wake 76-52.
The Caps girls were in a familiar position. The Broughton and Millbrook girls have faced each other 10 times in the past three seasons, with Millbrook winning eight. Each time the Caps were the underdog.
Broughton, seeded No. 16, had lost to the Wildcats three times this season.
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Things felt different from the tipoff Monday. The Caps will play at No. 9 Greenville Conley on Tuesday. Conley topped No. 25 Leesville Road 59-51 to move on.
Broughton senior Kaila Ealey led all scorers with 23 points, including seven straight to answer a 10-2 Millbrook run early in the second half.
Ealey said she knew the Caps (18-6) would make it a close game this time around. The entire team was positive throughout the day at school, she said.
“We got tired of losing (to Millbrook),” Ealey said. “Going in as the underdog you have so much to prove and the pressure isn’t on you because you’re the underdog.”
The late third-quarter stretch was capped by Ealey completing the three-point play with 15 seconds remaining in the period to end a hectic exchange and put Broughton ahead 32-31 entering the final quarter.
That run – the Caps answering when they got behind – was the key for Broughton coach Brad McCorkle, and it was very appropriate that it was Ealey who was the catalyst.
“I’m really happy for our seniors, and I’d be remiss if I wasn’t especially happy for Kaila Ealey, who has poured her heart out for Broughton for four years,” McCorkle said. “I felt like she kind of deserved this one, and I’m just super happy for her that she got this.”
Broughton, known for its speedy transition offense, slowed the tempo early on, holding Millbrook (24-2) to two field goals in the first quarter. Meanwhile, the Caps picked their times to attack, scoring 8 of their 12 first- quarter points from the line.
“We always want to get easy buckets if we can get them in transition, but our big focus tonight was take the easy buckets in transition if we can, but if we can’t, let’s pull it back and spread the floor and only settle for good shots,” McCorkle said.
The teams traded the lead five times and knotted the score twice in the fourth quarter, lastly at 38-38.
Broughton junior Katie Wadsworth was fouled and made one of two free throws to put the Caps ahead. Ealey then got a steal at midcourt and finished the layup with 20 seconds left, prompting Millbrook to call a timeout down three points with 10.9 seconds remaining.
In an attempt to avoid a backcourt violation after the inbounds pass, Millbrook turned the ball over again. Wadsworth came up with the steal and streaked down court. She was fouled on a made layup and sank the free throw to seal the win.
Wadsworth finished with 10 points for the Caps, six of which came in the fourth quarter.
“It’s unfortunate that two teams of this caliber meet so early in the state playoffs,” McCorkle said. “Millbrook is obviously one of the tops in the state, so hats off to them for being as good as they’ve been for quite a few years.”
Sophomores Dazia Powell and Kai Crutchfield led Millbrook with 10 and nine points.
Millbrook’s boys, seeded No. 2 in the East, capped the night with the win over No. 15 East Wake.
Robert Brown led the Wildcats with 24 points and Trejon Jacob added 20 points, including six 3-pointers. Josh Siler and Quincy Jackson led the Warriors with 14 and 10 points. Millbrook will host No. 10 Knightdale Tuesday at 7 p.m.