Milford Mill rides `D' to 5th straight region title

Slow-starting Millers rout Northwestern, 70-51

3A North girls basketball

High Schools

March 02, 2002|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Sneaky: Millford Mill's Eugenna Carson (middle) slips between Northwestern's Janea Bailey (left) and Diedre Johnson for a rebound.

Milford Mill struggled just to put six points on the board in the first quarter of last night's regional girls basketball final against Northwestern, but once the Millers' defense kicked in, it was a whole new ballgame.

The host Millers rode a couple of big offensive spurts, sparked by their swarming pressure defense, to a 70-51 victory over the Wildcats and their fifth straight Class 3A North regional championship.

Candyce Jeter scored 29 points, including six as the Millers broke away with a 14-1 second-quarter run. A 13-0 fourth-quarter burst buried the Wildcats, who were in the regional final for the first time in school history.

During both runs, the Millers fed off their zone press, grabbing steals and hounding the Wildcats into traveling violations.

"Defense creates our offense. That's it," said Candyce Jeter, a 5-foot-7 shooting guard. "Once we get a couple of steals then our offense surges off that."

The victory sets up a rematch for the Millers (20-5) and Westlake, a 62-52 winner over Calvert in last night's South region final. The Millers, who beat Westlake 59-42 in last year's semifinal, will square off again with the Wolverines on Thursday at 9 p.m. at UMBC.

Against the Millers' pesky defense led by freshman point guard Tammy Rogers with nine steals, the Wildcats (16-3) never got their high-powered offense in gear. They missed a lot of early shots and turned the ball over 30 times. Senior guard Michelle Singletary, the metro area's leading scorer with a 27.8 average, got into early foul trouble, finishing with 15 points.

The Wildcats shot 5-for-29 from the field in the first half and found themselves down by as much as 30-16. Every Miller on the floor scored during the run as the Wildcats thwarted their own comeback attempt by turning the ball over six times in 1:20.

"We'd come back and they'd start fighting even harder," said Wildcats guard Christina Mabry.

The Millers really took control with a 10-0 second quarter spurt. Four baskets off Wildcats turnovers boosted the Millers from a 9-8 edge to a 19-8 lead. During the run, Rogers had two steals, four assists and two of her nine points.

"They came out here ready to play," said Singletary. "I'm not saying we couldn't have done better, but our team came out and played lazy. I'll root for them. I wish they'd go all the way. "

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