STEPHENS CITY – Sherando’s boys basketball team missed a chance to seize some momentum going into halftime during Friday night’s game against visiting Northwestern District/Conference 21A rival Millbrook.
After the Pioneers got off and running to an early lead, Sherando settled in defensively, slowed the pace and held Millbrook without a point for the final 5:35 of the second period. But the Warriors managed just 4 points themselves during that same span.
Whatever offensive woes plagued the Pioneers in the second quarter dissipated quickly in the second half, and a key third-period outburst turned Millbrook’s six-point halftime lead into a 19-point advantage. The Pioneers would hold off a late comeback bid by the Warriors to pick up a 55-45 win.
“That was a big turning point where we were down six and we get the ball coming right out (of halftime),” Warriors coach Garland Williams said. “If we get a bucket there we’re down four, and it turns into a turnover and it goes – boom – right out to 10 in a hurry.”
Sherando (7-5) – which saw its four-game win streak snapped with the loss – trailed just 24-18 at intermission after falling behind 15-4 midway through the first quarter but fell victim to the Pioneers’ athleticism in transition again in the third period.
Millbrook (9-3) got three shots at a bucket on its first possession of the second half before Nick Harrell converted a stickback that began a decisive 15-2 Pioneers run over the next three minutes.
The Pioneers’ lead tipped into double-digits when Jordan Funk (game-high 14 points) slashed into the lane for an up-and-under layup followed by a put-back by Taryk Baylor that gave Millbrook a 30-19 lead with 6:25 left in the third period. Funk followed with a layup in transition, Baylor hit another stickback and a floater in the paint, and Alex Amos connected on a 3-pointer from the wing that put the Pioneers up 39-20 with 4:30 left in the quarter.
“They blitzed us for about 18 to 20 points just by beating us down court,” Williams said. “We knew that and we tried to set some things up for that but they executed well and we did a poor job on our part.”
Millbrook head coach Derek Butler said he challenged his team at halftime to relocate the intensity from the first period. The Pioneers also made a switch to a three-quarter court zone press to “jumpstart it there a little bit” in the second half, Butler said.
“We got up to the lead and apparently thought we could just sleep walk through the second half,” Butler said. “They’re a good team, they’re gonna try to challenge us back, so we challenged them at halftime to see if they could come out and bring that type of intensity. And we did switch up our defense to get a little three-quarter-court trap going on to try to shift it a little bit.”
After Millbrook’s surge, Sherando would slowly chip away at the deficit. Senior forward Isaiah Armistead – who led the Warriors with 12 points and 10 rebounds – scored in the paint off a driving assist by A.J. Outler to begin an 11-4 Sherando run to close the third period, which ended with Noah Ford’s fast-break layup in the closing seconds to cut Millbrook’s lead to 43-31 heading into the fourth quarter.
Pioneers freshman Savon Smith stretched that lead back to 15 points with a 3-pointer 30 seconds into the final period, and Millbrook would maintain that advantage until midway through the frame. Sherando junior Alex Morefield hit a 3-pointer from the wing with 3:45 to play, and buckets inside by Armistead and Ford pulled the Warriors within 48-40 with 2:55 left.
However, the Warriors committed a costly turnover on a double dribble following a rebound off Baylor’s missed free throw with 1:25 to play, and Millbrook capitalized with a pair of free throws by Funk six seconds later to push its lead back to 51-40.
“Those are things (that happen in the) first game, second game, but this is game 12. You can’t do that,” said Williams, whose team turned the ball over 15 times in the loss.
A 3-pointer by Sherando junior Jared Miller cut Millbrook’s lead back to 9 points with 40 seconds to play but the Pioneers made enough free throws to keep the game out of reach.
Millbrook shot 40.1 percent (21-52) from the field compared to a 40-percent (20 for 50) mark for Sherando. The Pioneers also held a 34-30 rebound advantage.
Funk was one of three Pioneers in double figures, as Baylor and Harrell finished with 10 points apiece.
Morefield finished with 8 points for Sherando, while Miller added 7 and Outler, Ford and Aaron Banks each had 6 points.
Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org