Pioneer girls exact revenge, beat Sherando, 64-60
WINCHESTER — The Millbrook girls’ basketball team might have shied from the spotlight in their first meeting with Sherando, but on Tuesday, it seemed like it would have taken a bulldozer to keep them out of it.
Millbrook dominated on the boards and proved relentless on defense to key an intense 64-60 victory that forged a tie atop the Northwestern District standings Tuesday night at Casey Gymnasium.
The Pioneers (15-2, 5-1 Northwestern) — who saw their 49-game district winning streak and 13-game winning streak against Sherando end in a 50-47 loss to the Warriors on Jan. 8 — won their 59th consecutive home game on the strength of a 43-26 rebounding edge (including 24 offensive rebounds) and a defense that held the Warriors (9-10, 5-1) scoreless from the 4:20 mark of the fourth quarter until the five-second mark.
The Pioneers — who gave up 12 of the game’s first 13 points and trailed 18-5 after one quarter in the first matchup with Sherando — were paced by Brenna Cook (18 points, seven rebounds, three steals), Brooke Borlie (17 points, 13 rebounds — eight offensive), Ashley Goodman (10 points) and Ky Rooks (nine points, eight rebounds).
“We were scared last time,” Millbrook coach Debby Sanders said. “It was the first time our kids had been in a big environment like that, a big important game.
“It’s one thing ... watching the [veterans] in the past play. Until you’re a part of it, it’s really hard to comprehend. We’ve done a lot of growing since August, and since that last game. Really, that’s all you can ask out of a group of kids like this. They gave us everything they’ve got. We told them whatever the final result was, at the end of 32 minutes if they could walk off that floor and tell us they had given us all they had, and left it out there, then we’d be satisfied no matter what. And I think that they did their job.”
It was Millbrook’s performance in the clutch that pulled out the game. The Pioneers trailed 58-56 at the 4:20 mark but a 7-0 run put them up 63-58 prior to a Reed bucket with five seconds left.
But Millbrook’s players felt they were in that position at the end because of their early intensity. Millbrook answered Sherando’s 15-8 run over the first five minutes of the first half with a 29-7 run over the last 11 minutes to take a 37-22 lead at the break.
That included a second quarter in which the Pioneers outscored Sherando 25-7, out-rebounded them 12-3 (with six offensive rebounds leading to some of those points) and forced seven turnovers while committing two.
Sherando coach Kevin Reed gave credit to the Pioneers’ box-and-one defense in the first half, as Lauren Reed (16 points, six assists) — who had four different players guarding her — went 11 minutes without taking a shot at one point and had just four points in the opening 16 minutes.
“The most important thing we’ve been focusing on is coming out hard in the first quarter, and we did that much better,” Cook said. “We got ourselves in a hole last time, and fortunately we didn’t do that tonight. We came out strong and ready to play.”
Millbrook refused to go away against Sherando in the last matchup, and the Warriors showed the same spirit Tuesday. Sherando outscored Millbrook 25-11 in the third, then finally grabbed its only lead of the second half after Reed threw in a perfect entry pass to a fronted Heidi Brown (18 points, six rebounds), who banked in a shot to make it 58-56 with 4:20 left.
But the Pioneers switched up and relied heavily on their one-on-one defending abilities over the remainder of the game, which caused several key turnovers.
In the meantime, the physical Borlie knocked down two free throws and scored a bucket down low to make it 60-58.
Sherando still trailed by just three with 30 seconds left, but immediately after the Warriors forced a turnover Millbrook tipped a pass from Erin Magalis (10 points, four steals, five assists) and stole it, which led to two Cook free throws with 14 seconds left to make it 63-58. Following Reed’s basket, Sherando could not apply a foul to Ashley Goodman until there was 0.3 seconds left, which left no time for a shot after she missed the second free throw.
“We talked a lot, and we played team defense,” said Cook of the closing minutes. “We denied the ball and we got opportunities because we were playing such tough defense.”
Kevin Reed said he was proud of how his young team — whose roster consists of all sophomores and freshmen except for one player — competed in the third quarter against an older team, and he loved their defensive energy.
But he said Millbrook’s tough rebounding was also key because of the numerous second-chance points Millbrook was able to get Tuesday.
“They’ve got seniors who have been in those trenches,” Reed said. “Say what you want, whether you were you on the floor a lot [in games], but when you practice every day with Courtni [Green], Alisha [Mobley] and Sara [Mead] and company, you’re going to be better, and your body is more mature [when you’re older]. From Brenna, to Brooke, to Ky, Ashley, all those girls did a great job killing us on the boards.
“Their defense is solid, but second- and third-chances got the best of us.”
Jessica Hakel added seven points, six assists and four steals for Sherando.
— Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at email@example.comFollow on Twitter @WinStarSports1