Millbrook was out to avenge its only loss of the season. Mission accomplished. The Wildcats boys’ basketball team locked up another conference crown, while the Lady Cats held off their counterparts with a late run in the fourth quarter.
In the end, the home team swept the Huskies, both games in dramatic fashion.
Wildcats battle back to take down Huskies
There was never any doubt. Even when they were down by 17 points, Millbrook knew they had a comeback versus Heritage in them.
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The Wildcats overcame a 17-point second half deficit to defeat the Huskies 64-58. With the win, Millbrook clinched its fifth consecutive Cap-8 title. However, No. 5 was not easy. Heritage, who already has a win over the Wildcats to their credit, came out on fire. The Huskies didn’t back down one bit, and at one point in the third quarter, looked like they were well on their way to a season sweep.
But Millbrook thought back to a halftime pep talk from senior point-guard John Burwell.
“At halftime John told us we have to stay together, we have to keep our heads up,” Wildcats’ forward Faison Brock said. “At that moment we knew that we weren’t going to lose again.”
Millbrook had to fight for it, outscoring Heritage 39-23 in the second half, the highlight being a 17-0 run in the third quarter. Thanks to a sudden hot hand, and its patent aggressive defense, Millbrook tied the game at 42 on a jumper from Jordan Whitfield.
To their credit, the Huskies didn’t fold, ending the third quarter on a 7-2 run. The fourth, however, belonged to the Wildcats. In a seesaw fourth, the home team took the lead for good on a steal and layup from Brock, who gave the team a one-point lead with 1:28 remaining.
Moments later, he scored while drawing a foul. Brock missed the front end of a one-and-one, but hustled back on defense, drawing a charge.
“I just wanted this win, badly,” Brock said. “Taking a charge is my thing, I knew I could get there.”
Brock finished with 11 points, six in the fourth.
He got help from Jordan Whitfield, who finished with a game-high 23 points. Whitfield played a big part in the run, making all three free throws after drawing a foul behind the arch. Trejon Jacobs followed that with a layup, making it a 10-point game with 3:12 remaining in the third quarter. After a Heritage turnover, Burwell converted an old-fashioned three-point play, pulling Millbrook to within four.
Once that happened, there was no doubt.
“We knew we were capable of coming back,” Brock said. “Losing the first game taught us that we could still come back and win.”
Burnell finished with 21 points to compliment Brock. Heritage center Jayden Gardner led the Huskies with 16 points and 14 rebounds, but went scoreless in the second half. He picked up his fourth foul midway through the third. With the big man watching from the pine, Millbrook went to work, locking up another Cap-8 crown.
Girls hold off Huskies 59-53
Millbrook girls’ basketball coach Chris East or leading scorer Kai Crutchfield would have no talk of the best player stepping up. The talk after their 59-53 win over Heritage was about the best team rising to the occasion.
Holding off a furious run from the Huskies late in the game, the Wildcats locked in as a team, making clutch plays to pull away and secure the win.
With Heritage catching fire, mainly guard Alana Brown, Millbrook needed to step it into another gear. The Lady Wildcats did just that, getting clutch baskets from Crutchfield, who led the Wildcats with a team-high 19, Dazia Powell and others.
“When we play as a team, unselfishly, we are tough to guard,” East said. “We try not to look at it as the best player, we try to look at it as who is going to be the five to give us the best look.”
Brown almost single-handedly kept Heritage in the game, scoring 14 points in the fourth, pulling Heritage to within four. Millbrook was able to extend the lead to nine, but twice, the Huskies cut it to five. That’s when the Wildcats started to click and make shots, enough to put Heritage away.
“It was really a team effort,” Crutchfield said. “We all put everything together. We just did it as a team.”
Crutchfield had a big second and fourth quarter, doing most of her damage in those frames, but she wouldn’t take full credit at all.
“I had to get the help from my teammates,” she said. “I had to do what fit in game-time situations.”
Powell, Zairya West and Jalessa Dilliard each added 10 for Millbrook. Brown led all-scorers with 21. Cydney Johnson added 15 and Alissa Smalls chipped in with 13.