Heritage basketball had hoped to challenged the visiting Millbrook teams Friday night. For the girls, both the Huskies and the Wildcats entered the Cap-8 4A matchup undefeated in league play.
As for the boys, Heritage, during an incredible season, was looking for its first win against Millbrook – ever.
But only one of the home teams succeeded.
The boys took down Millbrook 96-85, the Huskies’ first victory in the series in the programs’ 11 meetings. The Heritage girls fell 53-33 to the visitors, who remained the lone unbeaten team among Cap-8 games.
It was the Millbrook boys’ first loss of the year, coming one game after they surpassed a school record with a 13-game winning streak.
Colton Reed, Huskies make history
The first one was pretty big, but the sixth was wild. In Heritage’s historic victory over Millbrook, junior guard Colton Reed was perfect from three-point range in the first half en route to a game-high 25 points. He finished 7-of-8 from downtown to reach a career-high, and made all four of his free throws. He made six straight off the bench before the break.
“I’ve had a couple of off games, and I was just bouncing back and I came out strong,” Reed said. “I was just getting confident again and just being myself. I was letting go and my teammates were supporting me.”
Millbrook, the defending Cap-8 champions, worked its way to an early lead, but a Reed triple tied the game at 12 with 3:28 left in the first quarter.
Heritage sophomore forward Jayden Gardner’s basket gave Heritage (11-3, 4-1 Cap-8) its first lead of the game a few seconds later, and the Huskies, despite a wild, chippy contest, never looked back.
“I thought we had to play at a certain tempo. We said we wanted to dictate the tempo, and I thought we did that,” an elated Heritage boys’ coach Tilden Brill said. “I’m so proud of these guys right now. For us to make history like that – man, I’m just so proud of our guys.”
The Wildcats, a crew accustomed to winning, accustomed to losing the fewest Cap-8 games in the last five seasons, early on found Heritage a true challenger. Before they had a chance to register that a team they’d beaten 10 consecutive times was leading 50-46 at halftime, the Huskies kept striking and the visitors kept lapsing.
Late in the second quarter, Millbrook was 1-of-3 from the floor, while the Huskies were 4-of-5.
Millbrook’s Jordan Whitfield, who led his team with 23 points, tried to rescue the previously undefeated record that a balanced Heritage team put in jeopardy, using a medley of drives in the second half.
After the break, Millbrook (13-1, 4-1) managed to stay within 10 and in the fourth cut its deficit to eight.
Emotions ran high down the stretch, with a fiery goaltending call, turning over inbounds passes and key steals punctuating the scene.
Gardner and sophomore guard Jarren McAllister were on the bench with four fouls apiece in the last minutes. When McAllister came back in, he added four swift points to a career-high 32.
“I think we just had to have that next-man-up mentality,” Brill said. “If we can keep that up and keep the unselfishness, it didn’t matter who scored tonight. It was who had the opportunity.”
Millbrook girls fend off challengers in Heritage
One of Millbrook’s leading scorers didn’t put in her first basket until after the break.
The game’s leading scorer at halftime didn’t score after intermission.
Only one Wildcat reached double figures, because all Millbrook needed to hold off a young, pesky Heritage (12-2, 4-1) club was its depth.
Seven different players scored in the win that kept Millbrook (11-2, 5-0) undefeated among Cap-8 opponents and in first place in the league.
“We just try to get the best shot available, whatever is there,” Millbrook girls’ coach Chris East said. “It doesn’t matter to us who scores. It’s all about playing together as a team and getting the easy shot.”
Millbrook junior guard Zairya West led the Cats with 10 points, and she was part of a push the erased a late 12-point Heritage deficit. She and junior guard Dazia Powell were perfect from the floor in the second half (combined 4-of-4), as Powell didn’t score her first basket until the third quarter.
But East said it was his team’s defensive effort in the final minutes that made the difference.
“It was the defense,” he said. “They finally did what we were asking them to do all game.”
Millbrook senior forward Jaleesa Dillard was one of three Cats to finish with nine points, leading the game with eight boards.
Heritage guard Cydney Johnson paced her squad with 16 points, scoring 12 of those after halftime.
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan