Millbrook and Hillside, which meet for the N.C. High School Athletic Association East girls’ basketball final Saturday, are no strangers.
Despite Hillside’s undefeated PAC-6 4A run, a 28-1 record and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, Millbrook is prepared for it.
In the second game of the regular season on Nov. 28, the No. 2 Wildcats defeated the Hornets 48-40.
But both teams have drastically changed going into the regional final in Fayetteville.
In the months since Millbrook (28-2) defeated Hillside, the Wildcats have placed their focus on other tasks such as its own undefeated conference run, beating every in-state team they’ve played this season and eliminating No. 3 Southeast Raleigh from the playoffs.
Though its only game of the year against Hillside was more than three months ago, Millbrook coaches and players still know how good the Hornets are – and it all starts with Elisia Grissett.
“They got one of the best players in the state in (Grissett),” Millbrook coach Chris East said. “Their point guard is tough. Coach (Ovester) Grays does a good job, gets the most out of his kids. It’s going to be another defensive struggle.”
In the November game, Grissett led the Hornets with 20 points. Millbrook’s Dazia Powell had 18, and Kai Crutchfield added 13.
“They have this one player that takes it to the basket, so we have to watch some film of the last game and see how we can stop her,” Powell said of Grissett.
The Wildcats got off to a quick start in the early matchup against Hillside, leading 19-5 after one quarter. The Hornets went on to win the second period 16-5, and it was a battle to the end.
Millbrook boasts a more diversified scoring attack, which it displayed in it’s latest victory over Southeast. Four players reached double figures that day.
“It’s not just one or two people who can score,” Powell said. “We need the whole team to win the game.”
But there’s plenty for Millbrook to clean up before Saturday’s game. In the November game, the Wildcats missed 22 free throws, a statistic Millbrook won’t want to count on again. The Wildcats will need to minimize mistakes all over the court.
Two years ago, Hillside and Millbrook met in the East regional semifinals, and the Hornets won.
“I’m pretty excited,” Powell said. “This could be our year.”