Millbrook set the tone for Tuesday’s N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A third-round matchup with Knightdale from the opening minutes. The No. 2 seed Wildcats forced turnovers on Knightdale’s first three possessions before running away with a 97-66 win to advance to the regional round.
The start prompted Knightdale to call a timeout 55 seconds in, allowing the Knights to calm down and briefly take an 8-7 lead before Millbrook (25-2) took over, leading by seven after the first quarter and 23 at halftime. Knightdale wouldn’t come within single digits for the remainder of the contest.
For Millbrook coach Scott McInnes, seeing the Wildcats’ defense set the tone was a welcome shift late in the season for a high-scoring team.
“Our defense was really good tonight,” McInnes said. “I didn’t sleep much last night because Knightdale is so good. Their offense is unbelievable, and they’ve got a great scorer in (Daquan) Lilly. He’s fantastic. We did a good job on him most of the night.
“We’ve got a great shooting team, and now our defense is starting to match our offense, which has been good. So that’s really where we’re picking up right now.”
Senior Chris Clemons sparked the Wildcats, scoring 22 points during a 32-16 second-quarter run that put the game out. He finished with 41, breaking his record for points in a game by a Millbrook player.
“We just wanted to make them quit early,” Clemons said. “We didn’t want it to be close and have a chance for them to actually beat us at home, so we just wanted to get out on them early and make them quit.”
Robert Brown was consistent in the lane throughout, finishing with 27 points to become Millbrook’s all-time scoring leader with 1,239 points over the past four seasons.
“It feels great. It’s an honor, but I couldn’t do it without my teammates,” Brown said. “They’re the ones passing me the ball all season, so if it wasn’t for all of the assists and the passes, I wouldn’t have got it, so I have to shout my teammates out for that one, too.”
Clemons moved up to third on the all-time scoring list.
Millbrook moves on to face No. 3 seed Fayetteville Seventy-First in the East Regional semifinals Thursday at Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville.
“We’re just working hard to get back to where we were last year and even further,” Clemons said. “We’re happy where we are right now and just want to get better.”
Dondre Griffin led the Knights (20-7) with 18 points. Jordan Shannon added 12.