Both Millbrook basketball teams survived and advanced in the playoffs, pulling off the sweep during Thursday’s home doubleheader.
Both Wildcats teams shook off slow starts to come away with impressive victories. The games were nearly identical in the opening quarters, and the outcomes were never in question late in both N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A playoff contests.
Millbrook boys’ basketball 72-50 win over No. 19 Fayetteville Jack Britt marked a Wildcats record for most wins in a season with 27.
Jacobs gets hot early to lead Wildcats boys
Millbrook has so many weapons that it’s hard to tell who will have the offense going on any given night. In the second-round matchup against Jack Britt, it was senior forward Trejon Jacob.
Jacob opened the game with a deep 3 to spur the No. 3 Wildcats to the victory.
He had 16 of his team-high 18 at the break, proving to be the Wildcats’ first-half spark plug. It was the second consecutive game he had it going early. Jacob had 10 in the first half against East Wake in the opening round, finishing with 23.
“My teammates kept feeding me the ball and told me to keep shooting,” Jacob said. “That’s what I’m going to do, I’m going to listen to my teammates. They kept inspiring me to shoot the ball and I got it going, they kept falling.”
Jacob wasn’t exactly a one-man show in the first half, but offensively he was the Wildcats (27-1) go-to threat. He was 3-of-5 from the field and 3-of-6 from deep before intermission. He didn’t have to score much in the second half as Millbrook led 33-17 at the break.
While Jacob had it going offensively, his teammates locked down the Buccaneers. Jack Britt only had two players score in the first quarter and three in the first half.
Jack Britt center Immanuel Bates did most of the damage, scoring eight of his 12 before the break, but he could not beat Millbrook alone.
“Coach drew up a game plan and we followed it pretty well,” Jacob said, who also added 10 rebounds for his second career double-double. “That’s all we can ask for.”
Faison Brock, who took an ugly fall in the second quarter, regrouped and scored 11 for Millbrook, nine coming in the second half. John Burwell also got it going in the second half, finishing with 13 points.
Millbrook will take on No. 11 Apex in Round 3 on Saturday, a rematch from earlier this season. The Wildcats beat the Cougars 69-60 on Nov. 23.
“That’s early in the year. We just have to focus on the next one,” Millbrook coach Scott McInnes said. “I’m sure they’ve got a lot better, we’ve gotten a lot better defensively. I know both teams will be totally different. They have a great player in Ian Boyd and a great surrounding cast. We just have to do our part and be ready.”
Not pretty, but effective Millbrook girls advance
Imagine if the Millbrook girls’ basketball team had practiced.
Wildcats coach Chris East said his team looked like it hadn’t been in the gym the day before a 69-53 second-round win over Wilmington New Hanover Thursday — that’s because it hadn’t.
It showed early, but a Millbrook team without practice was still 16 points better than its opponent.
“Things that we could have covered I thought we were mature enough to make those adjustments without actually running through them in practice,” East said. “For some reason we just weren’t there tonight mentally.”
Millbrook started out sloppy - multiple turnovers, blown defensive assignments - but once they got going, the Wildcats rolled. The hosts used a 15-2 run in the second quarter to build a 31-15 lead. Junior guard Kai Crutchfield highlighted the run with an old-fashioned, three-point play.
Millbrook turned it up a notch on the defensive end as well, holding New Hanover to just one field goal in the second quarter. The visiting Wildcats lived off of free throws until Azariah Fields scored a layup around the three-minute mark of the second.
Dazia Powell led the Wildcats with 15 points to go along with seven rebounds and three assists. Crutchfield and L’Donnisty Gransion each added 12, Andreal Bass contributed 10 points and eight boards off the bench.
New Hanover was no pushover, going toe-to-toe with No. 2 Millbrook early. New Hanover led briefly in the first quarter, but the home team got it together just in time to put together a run and pull away.
The final margin was impressive to basketball fans, but East knows it wasn’t even close to being a dominant performance by his team.
“New Hanover out played us,” East said. “New Hanover played smarter and we kept making poor decisions. We are lucky to win tonight. We are going to be in trouble if we have to rely on our talent to win big games. Good teams execute every time down the floor and we were nowhere near that tonight.”
New Hanover guard Ayonna Cotten led her team with a game-high 20 points. Millbrook will take on No. 10 East Wake on Saturday. The Warriors upset No. 7 Greenville Rose, 68-47, to advance.