For as much control as the Leesville Road boys’ basketball team opened with against Millbrook on Thursday night, the Pride gave it up in a 78-52 loss.
In a battle for first place in the Cap-8 Conference, a game that was postponed a day because of inclement weather, the Pride came out roaring.
They started on an impressive 6-0 run. But it didn’t take long for the Wildcats to take back what clearly belonged to them and move into the league’s first-place spot.
“They hit the first two or three shots, and we missed probably our first three or four,” Millbrook coach Scott McInnes said. “It’s just one of those things. Good teams are going to make runs, and they made a run.”
To address Leesville’s early threat, Millbrook had to share the ball and play standup defense. The Wildcats (14-1, 6-1 Cap-8) were paced by John Burwell’s 18 points and six assists. He added two steals, including one in the second quarter that he finished with a layup to give Millbrook a 20-11 lead.
Burwell and Jordan Whitfield (14 points, three assists) controlled the pace for the Wildcats, driving at will and finding the open man.
But Millbrook’s Faison Brock was one of the key stars of the second half, scoring 14 of his 16 after intermission.
He pulled down a game-best 13 boards, and mixed in some dunks to give The Den, Millbrook’s student section, a show.
Millbrook outscored the visitors 22-9 in the third quarter.
“We’re playing really good right now,” McInnes said. “Our defense has gotten better and that’s really what’s gotten us there. You know, the guys are doing a really good job of keeping a guy in front.”
Brock came up with one of his game-leading four steals when he tracked a high-arching inbounds pass from Leesville with4 minutes 34 seconds left in the third. He drew contact on his drive, and the pair of free throws put the Wildcats up 47-27.
Late in the fourth quarter, Burwell found Brock for an alley-oop that gave Millbrook a 62-42 lead.
Brock said Thursday’s success stemmed from “just listening to the coach, just letting the game come to us. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but we focused and my teammates created everything.”
Jonathan Mebane led Leesville Road (9-6, 5-1) with 11 points and Ben Zemonek added 10 to round out double figures. Mebane had six rebounds.
Millbrook girls remained unbeaten in Cap-8 play
The Leesville Road girls’ team made it interesting in its 38-24 loss to Cap-8 leader Millbrook.
The Pride (13-3, 5-2) led for the majority of the first half. During that time, Millbrook (13-2, 7-0) missed five point-blank layups and Leesville guard Kelly Funderburk dished out a game-high five assists.
After the break, things shifted.
The Pride didn’t score from the field in the second half, their only two points after the break produced off a pair of free throws. And Millbrook didn’t miss anymore easy layups.
Millbrook’s Dazia Powell led the game with 16 points, adding six rebounds, three assists and a steal.
For all the Wildcats neglected in the first half, they emphasized the next.
It started right before the break, though. Millbrook’s Andreal Bass’ steal and putback put the Wildcats behind, 22-20, at halftime.
Millbrook’sman man-to-man defense made it difficult for the Pride to produce any offense after the break. The Wildcats were hands-on, pressuring passing lanes and shot attempts.
Leesville, which was forced to take more long-range shots in the second half, attempted 15 shots after halftime, and all but two of them were from three-point range.
Leesville’s Ashley Gill led her team with eight points and her teammate Lauren McNamara-Clement pulled down a team-high eight rebounds to match Millbrook’s Bass.
Funderburk’s five assists remained a game-best.
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan