Bria Day said she was shocked when Millbrook coach Chris East called her name.
Inside the Crown Arena, East had Day, a center, play her first minutes of the season in the second quarter of the NCHSAA 4-A Eastern Regional championship Saturday afternoon.
Day, twin sister of center Briana Day, missed the first 31 games with a right shoulder injury.
Last Thursday, Bria Day was cleared by her doctor to practice for the first time with her teammates.
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That’s when East promised her she would see the court.
After the Wildcats’ 54-49 victory over Hope Mills South View, Day was still surprised she played.
“When he called my name I was like, ‘Who, me?’ ” she said.
Day didn’t score any points, but she didn’t have to. Instead, she made her impact on defense.
East had Day guard South View’s best player in forward Sidney Cook. Day allowed Cook to score the first time; on the second possession, Day blocked Cook’s shot and grabbed the rebound.
“I know I’m still out of shape,” Day said. “I have a lot to work on.”
She also was instrumental in helping the Wildcats force 19 turnovers.
“When I got in the game, I just wanted to help my teammates,” Day said. “I was proud of myself for playing with intensity. I don’t care about my playing time. All I was thinking about was giving my all.”
The rest of the Wildcats noticed Day’s effort, including her sister.
“She’s my sister, and I missed her on the court,” Briana Day said. “It was really nice to have her enthusiasm and rebounding.”
Point guard Alex Tomlinson led Millbrook on offense with a season-high 19 points.
Tomlinson said having Bria Day on the court gave everyone energy on defense.
“She is definitely the most talkative person on defense, which is what we need,” Tomlinson said. “I know I can always hear here. She gave us a big lift.”
East said he now hopes Day will see more time on the court when the Wildcats play West Forsyth at Reynolds Coliseum at 5 p.m. Saturday for the state championship.
“She has a great basketball mind,” East said.
“Now we get another long defender, and you know her motor is going always. I hope we can work her into the rotation a little bit more next week.”