Pioneers girls pull away for 7th-straight win
WINCHESTER — The start of Wednesday night’s game with Turner Ashby could not have started much better for the Millbrook girls’ basketball team.
The Pioneers had a 13-1 lead by the end of the first period and seemed headed towards a blowout decision against a team that had two wins coming in.
But even when they were working toward a double-digit lead in the first quarter, the Pioneers weren’t always crisp on offense.
In fact, deep into the third quarter, the Knights were down only nine and still hanging around.
But once the fourth quarter arrived, Millbrook finally got the breakout run it had hoped for all night to go with the solid defense that was on display for the better part of four quarters.
Turner Ashby got the first and last baskets of the fourth, but Millbrook outscored the Knights 21-2 in between to coast to a 54-28 non-district win at Casey Gymnasium.
The win was the seventh straight for the Pioneers (17-2), who close the regular season Friday at last-place Skyline in hopes of forcing a playoff with Sherando on Monday for the top seed in the district tournament and the automatic Region II berth that comes with it to the winner.
Millbrook did a good job to hold Turner Ashby (2-19) under 30 points, forcing the Knights into 23 turnovers and 24.4 percent shooting (11 of 45) shooting from the field.
But it took until the fourth quarter before Millbrook could finally feel like it had the game locked down.
“In a long-range scope of things, [Wednesday’s] game doesn’t mean a whole lot at this point,” Millbrook coach Debby Sanders said. “I don’t know what my kids were thinking, I really don’t know?
“I don’t have a clue. I wish I knew. You can’t play like this at this point of the [season]. You just can’t get up for certain people or district contests — you’ve got to get up for every time somebody walks on the floor. I just don’t think we did a good job of that.”
Senior forward Brooke Borlie scored Millbrook’s first seven points, and a 3-pointer from sophomore Mia VanderToorn made it 10-1 and forced Turner Ashby to switch out of its 1-3-1 defense into a man.
Another basket by junior Breanna Cook had the lead at 11 and forced the Knights to use a timeout.
Turner Ashby missed its first 11 shots from the field and got its first basket only seconds before the buzzer on a stickback by Bre Bosley to trail 13-3 after one period.
In the second period, Millbrook’s offense looked flat. The Pioneers only added eight points to their total, and only Borlie (eight first-half points and seven rebounds) provided any kind of consistent play, as Millbrook took a 21-15 lead into the break.
When the second half started, the Pioneers amped up their pressure defense and got two quick scores off of turnovers.
Borlie (17 points and 10 rebounds in the win) coasted in with a steal, and Cook got loose and scored off an outlet from senior Ashley Goodman, who did not play in the second quarter after picking up three fouls in the first period.
Cook was fouled on her basket and completed the and-one, but Millbrook again struggled to score throughout the third.
The lead was just nine until Cook nailed a 3-pointer off the right wing late in the third to give Millbrook a 33-21 lead heading to the fourth.
“I just think we came out strong in the first quarter and then lost that intensity in the second quarter,” Borlie said. “After halftime, I think we came out the way we should have in the first half.
“Defense turns into offense, and if we’re playing good defense we’re going to [eventually] score more points. I think it comes down to being disciplined and having a high intensity on defense. The biggest thing was we talked more [in the second half]. Communication on defense is key. If you don’t talk on defense, you’re not going to be successful.”
Millbrook’s offense finally caught up in the fourth and put 21 points on the board. The Pioneers scored 15 straight points over a 2:25 stretch to race out to a 48-23 lead with 5:01 left.
Cook scored 18 of her game-high 22 points in the second half, and she nailed two of Millbrook’s four 3-pointers in the final period.
A second-straight bomb, this one off the right baseline by Cook, capped Millbrook’s big run to send the lead to 25.
“Breanna can shoot lights out and I think the most important thing was everyone got involved [offensively] in the second half,” Borlie said. “We certainly ran our offense more efficiently.”
Sanders was glad that her team finally got its margin out and took care of business.
She credited a much better effort on both ends from her team and said that Friday’s game with Skyline is just as important as any other the Pioneers will play in the next week.
“I always respect our opponents and believe anything can happen at any given moment, with an injury or if somebody gets sick,” Sanders said. “Friday’s a long way away.
“We’ve always tried to keep that mentality [to respect opponents]. Coming into this season, we did not change what we do, as far as what expectations we have.”
Turner Ashby got a team-high eight points from freshman forward Sarah Wood.