That Jada McMillian’s game-winning 3-pointer came against East Wake was satisfying.
The buzzer-beater claiming a conference tournament was all the more.
The Southeast Raleigh sophomore guard sealed the 11-game winning streak the Bulldogs rode in the first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A playoffs, which began last Tuesday.
“(The conference tournament championship) gave us some more fight,” McMillian said. “It gave us more. Now we have more pride in our game.”
Southeast Raleigh defeated East Wake 45-43 on Feb. 18.
The Bulldogs cruised past Wilmington Ashley in the first round of playoffs and hosted Durham Riverside Thursday. The winner of that game advanced to Saturday’s third round.
McMillian said she wasn’t sure her shot was good in the conference tournament finals, but the ball proved otherwise for her first career game-winner.
“It felt great,” she said. “I didn’t think it was going in, but I went for it and finished.”
McMillian is the team’s second-leading scorer. She’s been playing basketball since she was about 7 years old after being influenced by her older cousins who would play the game.
Though it’s only her second year playing for the Bulldogs, she said the young team is close because many of its players competed together or against each other in middle school.
Southeast Raleigh had a few bumps in the road this season, but McMillian is assured it’s improved.
“Since we’ve been together so long, we kind of learned how each other play,” she said.
In Southeast’s first meeting against East Wake, the Warriors won, 52-46. It became one of the Bulldogs’ three regular-season losses on the year.
The teams split the regular-season series, Southeast getting revenge with a 54-45 victory in the second cycle.
“The conference tournament was really competitive,” McMillian said. “It wasn’t an easy game. You had to play hard and give it your all. We had to play hard to get that trophy.”
She said the Bulldogs, last year’s 4A runner-up, are seeking much bigger hardware, though.
For that, they’ll need the next five playoff wins.
“We’re looking for that state championship,” McMillian said. “We just want to get the rings. We just want to be confident in ourselves and play team basketball.”
The No. 3 Bulldogs will play at No. 2 Millbrook on Tuesday.
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan
School: Southeast Raleigh
Sport / Position: Basketball / Guard
Fun fact: Also plays drums