By Tommy Keeler Jr. - firstname.lastname@example.org
RICHMOND -- One record down, one to go.
After a season of emphasizing taking things one game at a time and not talking about a state record, Millbrook's girls basketball team could finally smile and enjoy a special moment.
The Pioneers used a first-quarter blitz to take control of the game, and cruised to a 65-31 girls basketball victory over Carroll County in the Group AA, Division 4 state semifinals on Tuesday night at VCU. The Pioneers' 78th straight win broke the Virginia High School League girls basketball state record for consecutive victories, previously held by Haysi.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock, the team broke into laughter and smiles.
"We were excited," Millbrook senior Alisha Mobley said. "It feels good."
The Pioneers (29-0) will play the winner of today's Courtland-Salem state semifinal game
in Saturday's state championship. If the Pioneers win that game, they would become the first girls team to win three consecutive state titles in VHSL history.
Millbrook started out strong against Carroll County, as its defense held the Cavaliers to only one field goal in the first quarter. The Cavaliers (23-5) had more turnovers (10) than shot attempts (8) in the opening eight minutes.
Millbrook scored the first seven points of the game, including six from Alisha Mobley.
After a 3-pointer by Carroll County's Lindsay Martin, the Pioneers closed the quarter with a 12-0 run.
Things changed for the Pioneers in the second quarter, as they went into a shooting slump.
Millbrook missed its first nine shots.
Martin hit another 3-pointer, and Shyann Dalton scored five consecutive points for Carroll County to cut Millbrook's lead to 19-11 with 2:41 left in the half.
The Pioneers didn't panic.
"We went though a slump," Millbrook senior Sara Mead said. "It happens with every team. We just had to keep playing hard and keep pushing through."
With the team needing offense, Millbrook senior Courtni Green emerged.
The guard scored the Pioneers' only 10 points of the quarter to help put them up 29-13 at the half.
"Between me and Alisha [Mobley] we were just working hard," Green said. "We knew the team was going through a little drought, and we just tried to step it up."
Millbrook shot only 26.7 percent (8-for-30) from the field in the first half, but went 12-for-13 from the free-throw line.
The Pioneers took complete control of the game in the third quarter. Millbrook used a 14-3 run to build a 46-19 lead with 1:43 left in the third quarter.
"We knew we didn't come out in the first half with a lot of intensity," Green said. "And we knew we had to change it in the second half if we wanted to get this win."
Carroll County had 33 turnovers, 22 of which were Millbrook steals.
The Cavaliers were led by Martin with 10 points and six rebounds.
Green had 27 points, eight rebounds, five steals and two assists. She moved into third place all-time in scoring in VHSL girls basketball history and now has 2,505 points. Mobley had 24 points, 16 rebounds and five steals.
With one record down, the Pioneers can now set their sights on another record, and most importantly another state title.
"We came to win another state championship," Green said. "It feels good [to break the winning streak record]. We'll go down in history. It feels good. I think [winning] the state championship feels better, but I'll take the record, too."