By Brian Eller - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- It's not an issue of what Millbrook's Sara Mead can do to help her team. For the sophomore point guard, it's all about what else she can do to help her team.
On Friday night the coach-labeled "quarterback" of the Pioneers took charge of her offense, scoring 21 points, including 13 in the third quarter, to help guide Millbrook to a 77-41 win over Skyline.
"I can't say enough about the kid," Millbrook coach Debby Sanders said. "She is the workhorse. She is the one if you tell her to run through the cinder block wall she's going to run through it and she's going to want to know how far you want her to run through it. She just takes charge. She does what a true point guard does. She takes charge, plays hard-nosed defense and she gives everything she has."
Despite Mead's leadership skills at the point for Millbrook, the Pioneers' offense got off to a sluggish start Friday. Millbrook shot just 11-of-32 in the first half, generating just 31 points. The sophomore trio of Mead, Courtni Green and Alisha Mobley were the top scorers for the Pioneers, as Green finished the first half with 11 points while Mobley and Mead each had six.
Fortunately for Millbrook, while the offense took time to get into rhythm, the defense was staunch from the opening tip. Skyline managed just six field goals in the first half and had just three players register a basket. Still the Hawks went into halftime down just a dozen.
"We had a 12-point game at half," Skyline coach Jim Kenney said. "We were doing fairly well and I told them in the second half they're gonna come out and they're gonna pressure us and we just couldn't handle it. We just didn't."
"Couldn't handle it" may have been putting it politely. In the third quarter the Pioneers opened up on a tear, starting the second half on a 10-2 run, led by Mead who had six points in the first two minutes. That gave Millbrook a 20-point lead with 6:05 left in the third quarter, forcing Kenney to use a timeout to regroup.
The timeout could only delay the struggles for the Hawks, however, as Skyline managed just 10 points in the quarter and committed 12 turnovers. Mead finished with 13 points in the quarter, while Mobley added eight points to compensate for Green's limited minutes due to foul trouble.
"Overall we did good as a team," Mobley said. "We picked it up during the second half. I'm learning how to work on my rebounding skills. That's what [my teammates] have been getting on me for at practice. They've been telling me not to go over the back the whole time. They tell me to box out first and then go up and look for the guards going wide."
Holding a 60-29 lead heading into the fourth quarter, the Pioneers used the fourth quarter to give some of their bench players some extra minutes. Despite shooting just 7-of-20 in the final period Millbrook coasted to the win, keeping them undefeated on the season. Mead finished with a game-high 21 points, while the defense forced a total of 34 turnovers in the victory.
"Well we talked about [defense] once again at halftime," Sanders said. "I think you saw a different team come out in the third quarter. We picked up our defensive intensity. We had different bodies on the floor and everybody was executing like they're supposed to and that's how we make our runs. Once we start doing that it's difficult, and if we can do that for four quarters we can be a pretty good basketball team."