Leesville Road just kept getting better.
The Pride ignored their previous two losses to Millbrook, who came into the Cap-7 semifinals with a perfect record and a 24-game win streak.
Didn’t matter to Leesville, though. The Pride lost to the Wildcats by 41 in January, but fared better the second time around, falling by seven in February. In the latest installment of the rivalry, Leesville came out the gates swinging, leading from start to finish, and upsetting Millbrook, 80-61.
“We came in here with a take nothing from anybody attitude,” Pride head coach Russ Frazier said after the win. “We came here to win a ballgame. I’m proud of the boys for competing. Competing is what we talked about.”
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Deon Daniels led the Pride with 32 points and forward RJ Wilson added 15. Sophomore guard Carter Whitt finished with 13, but went scoreless in the fourth when the Pride (15-12) outscored the Wildcats 21-14, with Daniels pumping in 13 points in the final frame.
Millbrook (24-1) was led by senior guard Phillip Burwell with 16. Sophomore forward William Felton added 18 for the Wildcats, who will now play the waiting game for the NCHSAA 4A playoff brackets to be released.
Leesville, meanwhile, will move on, taking on Broughton in the finals on the Capitals home court on Friday. Broughton defeated Southeast Raleigh, 63-59, in overtime in the first semifinal game.
The Wildcats came into the contest short handed, but the Pride wasn’t feeling sorry for anyone, jumping out to a 21-14 lead after the first quarter. The Leesville Road lead jumped to 10 early in the second after an old-fashioned three-point play from Wilson. Millbrook would cut the lead to single-digits to close out the half, and pulled to within one, 45-44, midway through the third after three straight points from Colin Davis. But Leesville kept the foot on the gas in the fourth as their lead ballooned to almost 20 points before the final horn.
Frazier said he didn’t have to convince his team that they could come into a hostile environment and upset Millbrook on their court.
“No convincing, we’ve just gotten better,” Frazier said. “Our lessons and our experience teaches us a lot. With our age and our youth, we’ve managed to learn. We learn trial by error.”
The Leesville win sets up a third showdown with Broughton, who swept the Pride in their two meetings during the regular season.
The Caps (18-8) needed an extra four minutes to hold off Southeast Raleigh (8-18), who got a strong performance from Jaylen Neal, who led his team with 25 points, 18 coming after halftime. Broughton guard DJ Thomas scored an old-fashioned three-point play to push the Caps ahead 60-58 and Tynias Peace added a pair of free throws for extra breathing room.
Thomas scored 26 points in the win. Peace added 18 for Broughton, who is looking to extend not only their season, but the career of coach Jeff Ferrell who is stepping down as the basketball coach at the conclusion of the year.
Ferrell said he is going to miss the excitement of games like the win over the Bulldogs, but doesn’t want to make his final few games about him.
“I want this to be about (them) just like the previous 21 years,” Ferrell said. “I don’t want them to think like that. I just want them to win for the team and for this program.”
To win a Cap-7 title on their home floor, Ferrell said his team has to knock down shots. After they defeated Southeast Raleigh in the first game of the night, Broughton didn’t know who their opponent would be in the title game. Not that it mattered. It’s easy to scout an opponent when you’ve already played them twice this season.
“I don’t have to show game film because we’ve already done that and been there,” Ferrell said. “At this point what you see is what you get from anybody.”