By Dennis Atwood - firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- The Skyline Hawks had the unenviable task of playing the unbeaten Millbrook Pioneers in Friday's semifinal round of the Northwestern District girls basketball tournament.
Even though the Pioneers got off to sluggish starts at the beginning of each half and leading scorer sophomore Courtni Green managed only one field goal and four free throws in the first two quarters, senior Lacey Harris scored 10 first-half points and sophomore Sara Mead notched eight before the buzzer as Millbrook recorded yet another blowout, 72-21, to increase its perfect record to 16-0.
"If one of us isn't, like, having a very good start, we just know how to pick each other up, just like me and Sara did with Courtni, and Courtni knows when it's her time to pick it up, too," Harris said.
Skyline didn't score until 3:07 remained in the first quarter, when Kristina Salazar sank a field goal.
Millbrook maintained a full-court press throughout the first half and mounted a smothering man-to-man defense that allowed only 8-for-29 (.275) shooting from the floor by Skyline.
Green picked up her game in the second half, sinking her second field goal with 2:54 remaining in the third quarter. Green finished with a game-high 18 points (6-of-13 shooting), including a 6-of-7 effort at the free-throw line. Green also nabbed eight steals.
"They were playing defense really tight on me, so it's good that Lacey and Sara could take care of business," Green said. "When my shot's not falling, I need to play better defense, and you can get your points off defense."
"We're a very unselfish basketball team and that's the style we play," Millbrook coach Debby Sanders said. "That's what [Green] does -- she's quick and she's real good one-on-one -- she can take anybody to the hole."
Harris provided the other big pillar in Millbrook's balanced scoring attack, collecting 15 points on the night (6-of-9 from the floor and 3-of-3 on free throws), while sophomore Alisha Mobley contributed 12 points and grabbed nine boards.
The Pioneers took off the press part way through the third quarter and inserted subs liberally in the fourth frame.
Top scorers for the Hawks were Casey and Taylor Henry, with five points each.
Skyline committed 23 turnovers and Millbrook slopped away 19 possessions.
"When you beat a team like that [Tuesday's blowout], we're searching and we're more worried about our legs right now," Sanders said. "You know, we want to keep fresh legs. We sat through all those weeks, about a week and [a] half of snow, then the two games after we came back were against the same team.
"You just want to save what you've got and that's what we told our kids. We were looking just to mix stuff up and just get the 'W' -- we didn't care by how much -- then we'll use a lot of bodies and get ready for [tonight] the best we can."