WINCHESTER — Sherando’s boys basketball team, which had tested Millbrook twice in a pair of two-possession losses during the regular season, held a lead at halftime of Thursday’s Class 4 Northwestern District tournament quarterfinal game against the top-seeded Pioneers. A decisive Millbrook run in the second half quelled the upset bid and brought the Warriors’ season to an end.

Down 7 midway through the third period, Millbrook used a 17-0 run that stretched into the early stages of the fourth quarter to take the lead and proceeded to hold off No. 8 Sherando for a 55-47 victory that sends the Pioneers into Tuesday’s semifinal game against No. 5 Fauquier.

“I don’t think anything really changed, I think we just finally settled in,” said Millbrook coach Steve Grubbs, whose team had already locked up a spot in the upcoming Region 4C tournament by winning the district’s regular-season title. “Looking at the first half, I think we played tight in those first couple minutes and stuff wasn’t falling and we’re not doing things that we’re supposed to do offensively. We were just kind of feeling everything out. I think the second half came and it was a little bit of a wake-up call going in (down) 26-24. I know they went on a big run again. I think it was 31-24 at one point, and then from that point on we kind of got back to our game, settled into what we were supposed to be doing and started attacking and being the aggressor for pretty much the rest of the game.”

Sherando (5-18) led for most of the first half – the Warriors trailed briefly late in the second period when Chris Oates’ bucket in the paint gave Millbrook (17-6) its first lead of the game with 1:30 left in the half – and took a 26-24 lead into halftime. That advantage grew to 31-24 after Darius Lane’s 3-pointer with 4:03 left in the third period before Millbrook’s Julien Hagerman answered with a trey of his own to start the Pioneers’ tide-turning run.

Millbrook scored 11 straight points – Jordan Jackson scored 7 in that span, including an acrobatic layup in the lane through contact that drew a foul and ended with a traditional 3-point play – to close the third period and pushed its lead to 10 points in the fourth quarter.

Zachary Symons’ baseline jumper from the low block with 5:55 left finally halted the Warriors’ six-minute scoring drought that included a couple missed shots around the basket.

“I think the opportunity was there for us a little bit and we just didn’t seize it,” said Warriors assistant coach Brad Symons, who was filling in for head coach Garland Williams on Thursday night.

“They came out in that little bit of pressure, we missed those couple layups we could’ve had and I think it kind of gets in our head a little bit. We just didn’t shoot the ball extremely well tonight like we had in other nights.”

Sherando 6-foot-5 junior forward Keli Lawson, who finished with 10 points and nine rebounds, was stuck on the bench for most of the Warriors’ dry spell with foul trouble.

“He gets in foul trouble and then it kind of takes us out of what we want to do with our in-and-out (game),” Brad Symons said.

Millbrook endured a three-minute scoring drought of its own during the latter half of the fourth quarter, which allowed Sherando to pull within 48-44 when Amari Williams’ steal turned into a Zachary Symons layup on the other end with 52.7 seconds left.

The Warriors again cut the deficit to 4 on Cole Armel’s 3 with 19.2 left, but Millbrook made seven of eight free throws over the final 42 seconds of the game to keep the lead intact.

The Pioneers made 17 of 22 free throws in the win, an area that Grubbs said became a major emphasis after it cost Millbrook in a loss to Skyline on Dec. 6.

“We knew eventually it’s gonna come down to it and we want to make sure we’re prepped and ready,” said Grubbs, who noted that Taralle Hayden and Diante Ball each went 4-for-4 from the line in the fourth period on Thursday. “… Those are some big-time shots that occasionally get lost in the shuffle.”

Sherando, which needed to win the district tournament to advance to the regional round, got the start it needed against Millbrook when it opened up the game with an 11-2 run that included 9 points from Lane.

An 11-2 run for the Pioneers in the second period gave Millbrook the lead for a 30-second span.

“They’re gonna be a little deeper and they’ve got kids that are all seniors and have been playing,” Brad Symons said. “We thought they would weather (Sherando’s hot start) and then they can bring some people in and kind of give us a little different mismatch and some trouble with what we’ve got to do. That changed what we’re trying to do.”

Lane, Sherando’s lone senior, had 17 points in his final game. Armel (seven rebounds) joined Lawson with 10 points for the Warriors.

Hayden, who hadn’t played since a loss to Liberty on Jan. 24, led Millbrook with 14 points, while Jackson finished with 12 points and seven rebounds and Hagerman chipped in 10 points.

“He’s a great guard for us,” Grubbs said of Hayden. “He attacks well. He sees the court well. He’s always looking to kind of find those soft spots in the zone and I think for the most part tonight he did a great job of making sure we were getting in some things, along with Jordan Jackson and Tyson (Stewart). I think Julien had a little bit of foul trouble there and it’s tough for him to get back in the swing of things but he still finishes with (10) points. All of them kind of contribute to make ourselves a little successful.”

Millbrook, like Sherando, shot 41 percent from the field but the Pioneers outrebounded the Warriors 32-22 and limited Sherando to just five free-throw attempts.

Thursday’s loss was Sherando’s 13th by 10 points or less this season. Brad Symons, who has coached at Sherando for 23 years, said he’s never witnessed a season in which the Warriors were as heavily plagued by injury and illness as they were this winter.

“Never had a season quite like this where, to be honest with you, until probably the last two weeks, I don’t think we had everybody practicing together until then,” Symons said.

“I’m proud of these boys,” he added. “They’re out there working hard. Practices were good. The adversity that they’ve handled this year, a lot of kids just could’ve bagged it in. These guys didn’t. They kept on fighting, and (Millbrook) is the No. 1 seed for a reason. They’re a pretty good team.”

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