Milford Mill falls in title game again

4th straight loss in final comes to Paint Branch, 61-42

`we just fell apart'

Class 3A girls basketball

March 11, 2001|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Paint Branch warmed up in T-shirts with "Unfinished Business" printed on the back, but no team in the girls state basketball tournament had more unfinished business than No. 8-ranked Milford Mill.

The Millers went into last night's state Class 3A championship game with three straight title-game losses. They came out with four.

Against Paint Branch's man-to-man defense, the Millers did not execute well, and that sparked the Montgomery County team to a 61-42 victory at UMBC for their first state crown in 11 years.

The Panthers (25-1) completed their unfinished business by sweeping county, regional and state titles - something they fell short of last year when they lost in the state semifinals. They finished the season with 19 straight wins.

Last night, the Millers (20-5) never settled into any offensive rhythm and their zone defense early in the game was easily solved by the Panthers, especially Syracuse-bound Rochelle Coleman, who finished with a game-high 22 points.

"They started hitting from outside, which they didn't do the other day," said Millers coach Pam Wright of the Panthers' semifinal. "I didn't want to play them man-to-man. I only have six [experienced] players."

The Millers started off with a kick, running up a 6-0 lead, but once Paint Branch started hitting, the Panthers began pulling away. Coleman scored 13 in the first quarter to help the Panthers run up a 20-11 lead.

With the Panthers stalling Milford's running game, the Millers went away from the team-oriented game that had been the key to a 15-game winning streak that ended last night. They rushed their shots, missed layups and converted just one of 16 offensive rebounds in the half.

"We were trying to take it one-on-one instead of passing it around and getting the screens," said senior forward Tamika Rogers. "We usually play team ball, and we just fell apart. I don't even know why."

The Millers shot just 28 percent from the field. They didn't work the offense, and the Panthers allowed them little off their running game.

"We contained their transition," Panthers coach Heather Podosek said. "They jumped off to that quick 6-0 start on us. We had to make a recovery. I thought we did a good job of making them play half-court offense."

While the Millers controlled the boards early, the Panthers did a better job in the second half and finished with a 49-47 edge.

"They did a pretty good job crashing the boards, and I thought we made a pretty good adjustment on that in the second half, too," Podosek said. "We felt that since they sent five people to the boards, if we boxed out aggressively, we could get some transition points ourselves, which we were able to do."

The Panthers ran their lead to 42-23 late in the third quarter before Milford Mill put together a mini-run of 8-2, paced by six points from Folake Adeyemo and a couple of Shari Burgess free throws. But the Millers couldn't make up any more ground.

Timmena Wilkins led the Millers with 12 points, while Burgess added 10.

For Rogers, one of just two Millers seniors, the loss was a disappointing end to an otherwise pleasing season.

"We had a very, very good season," said Rogers, who finished with five points and eight rebounds. "The beginning of the season was kind of rough, but we came together as a team and played very well. All I can think of is the positive things about this season. I love my team."

PB-R.Coleman 22, Harrington 15, Providence 3, Kelly 6, Mwalimu 6, Kantin 2, Golodze 2, Jones 2, C.Coleman 2. Totals: 24 10-16 61.

MM-Wilkins 12, Burgess 10, Jeter 6, Cheatham 1, Rogers 5, Adeyemo 8. Totals: 18 6-22 42. Half: 25-17, PB.

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