Millbrook’s boys ran away with a 104-79 win over Fayetteville Seventy-First to advance to the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 4A East final Thursday.
The Wildcats (26-2) will face No. 1 Garner (26-1) Saturday in an all-Wake County regional final for a chance to play for the state championship.
Millbrook is the only team to have beaten Garner this year. The Wildcats topped the Trojans 87-71 in a Holiday Invitational tournament game in December.
Seniors Chris Clemons, Andrew Evans and Robert Brown all had big nights for the Wildcats in a game that saw five Millbrook players reach double digits.
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Clemons led all scorers with 24 points, while Evans and Brown added 21 apiece. Juniors Faison Brock chipped in 13 and Trejon Jacob had 11.
The crowd at Crown Coliseum largely favored the hometown Falcons (25-3), with many Millbrook fans kept back in the Triangle because of poor weather and slick road conditions. But the Wildcats jumped ahead early, forcing 13 Falcons turnovers in the first half and putting the game out of reach with a 21-point halftime lead and never looked back.
“We had to be our own crowd,” Brown said. “We had to come in with our own energy and just hype everybody up and just play for Millbrook.”
Both teams struggled from the free-throw line in a contest that was chippy from the beginining. Millbrook shot 27-for-53 from the line and Seventy-First went 26-for-47 as the teams combined for 71 personal fouls and 100 free throws. Despite the large margin of victory, the Wildcats looked at ways they could improve heading into Saturday’s state semifinal.
“In the physical games we need to make sure we knock down our free throws because we did have a lot of points left out there on the free thrown line,” said senior Jordan Sterrett.
But what the Wildcats didn’t get from the line, they got from swarming defense and transition baskets. Thursday was the third time the Wildcats eclipsed 100 points this year. They are averaging 90 points per game in the playoffs.
“We want to start fast and get a good lead so we can keep the lead the whole game,” Evans said. “We took their crowd cheering as our crowd, so that was our mentality.”
Millbrook, which beat Seventy-First to advance to last year’s regional round, has made the regionals five of the past six years. This will be the Wildcats’ third state semifinal appearance in that time, and their second in a row.