East Wake took a 10-point halftime lead against the undefeated Millbrook girls’ basketball team Tuesday night, shooting the ball well and forcing the hosts into a series of uncomfortable looks.
Then, the tables turned.
Millbrook used a third-quarter run to survive, 55-53, and hand East Wake its first loss of the season.
“You can’t open up the first half against a great team like East Wake like we did,” said Millbrook coach Chris East. “There’s no excuse for it.”
But his team responded after the break.
The Wildcats (5-0) kept the Warriors from scoring until the 4:13 mark of the third quarter, in that time going on a 10-0 run to tie the game. Millbrook didn’t gain its first lead until the final 45 seconds of the period, when senior forward Jaleesa Dillard’s free throw put her team on top – but only briefly.
East Wake senior forward Angel Rizor finished a cross-court pass in the closing seconds of the frame to give the Warriors (2-1) a one-point edge.
Rizor finished with a game-high 21 points and 13 boards, six on the defensive glass. She shot 5-of-6 from the floor in the first half but missed her first four attempts in the third quarter (2-of-7 total that quarter).
East placed senior forward L’Donnisty Granison on Rizor down the stretch.
“We needed somebody I knew was going to be tough on her and not give her any easy looks and ‘Boosie’ was the answer,” East said. Granison is from Louisiana, and her nickname is derived from rapper Lil’ Boosie, who shares her home state.
Millbrook junior Dazia Powell led her team with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Domonique Cross added 11 points for the Wildcats.
East Wake led at the break having lost the turnover battle and finished with 27 turnovers to Millbrook’s 18.
“I felt like we came out good early, but it wasn’t consistent throughout the game,” said East Wake coach Toni Dupree. “We came out flat in the third quarter and then turnovers got us. So we could have (taken) care of the basketball more and then been more urgent about what we’re doing, we could have been fine. Millbrook’s a good team, but we didn’t give it all we had at the end.”
Cross tied the game on a layup from a Granison feed with 4:23 left in the third, capping off the Wildcat run that helped them gain control of the game. From there, they shot more confidently and came up with a couple of big steals and big blocks to hold off the visitors.
Three who mattered
Angel Rizor, East Wake: The senior forward was a pest down low and from mid-range on the offensive end throughout the night. She led her team with five steals on defense, coming away with three in the first quarter.
Dazia Powell, Millbrook: While Powell had just four points at the break, she came back to become the team leader for the Cats. Her team shot 56 percent from the free throw line as a unit, and Powell finished 9-of-10 from the stripe. Several free-throw chances helped Millbrook climb back into the game.
Dajha Williams, East Wake: The sophomore guard led the game with seven assists. Williams also contributed seven rebounds and two steals.
L’Donnisty Granison, Millbrook: With a tight score, whenever Millbrook went up, Granison was around. She only had eight points and five rebounds but led the game with six steals. She also had two assists.
She took a pass from Powell in the beginning of the fourth quarter and knocked down a triple to give her team a 43-41 lead. Granison was also there to recover a loose ball with less than 30 seconds showing in the game, giving her team a chance to run the clock out.
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan