Milford Mill advances to fifth straight final

Cheatham leads Millers over Westlake, 66-46

Girls Class 3A semifinals

March 08, 2002|By Kathleen Dunn | Kathleen Dunn,SUN STAFF

Will the fifth time finally be the state title charm for Millford Mill's girls basketball team?

With a fine team performance yesterday at UMBC, the Millers defeated Westlake, 66-46, to advance to the state Class 3A title game for the fifth straight time. So far, the Millers have come up empty in the final.

The Millers, who also beat the Wolverines in last year's semifinal, look to break the title-game drought at 8 p.m. tomorrow when they meet Gwynn Park for the championship at UMBC. Gwynn Park defeated Urbana, 62-44, in yesterday's other semifinal.

Qiana Cheatham led the Millers (2 1-5) with 20 points and 13 rebounds while Candyce Jeter added 16 points and 10 rebounds. Chelsea Jeter had 10 points and six steals. Tammy Rogers added eight points and six steals.

The Millers, who snapped a 21-game Westlake winning streak, broke away early and the Wolverines (21-3) could not counter their quickness and their zone press. When Candyce Jeter nailed a three-pointer with 6:05 left in the game, the Millers led 61-40, but they took control much earlier, running up a 13-point lead early in the second quarter.

The Wolverines came within 34-26 late in the second quarter, but the Millers went on a 20-8 run that boosted their lead to 54-36 by late in the third quarter.

Milford Mill used a 12-2 spurt to spark an initial run that boosted the lead to 14-4. In one early stretch, Milford Mill hit eight straight shots and finished the first half 10-for-16 from the field. With 11 first-quarter points from Cheatman, Milford led 23-15 at the first break.

They boosted the margin as high as 34-21, before the Wolverines went on a 7-0 spurt to cut the lead to six. But the Millers finished the half strong as Candyce Jeter nailed a follow shot, Chelsea Jeter fed Tammy Rogers for a layup and Cheatman fed Candyce Jeter for another layup to pull back ahead 40-28 at the half.

Since losing to Parkville, 59-56 in overtime on Jan. 30, the Millers have won eight straight games. Their title spark came in rallying from 14 points down in the fourth quarter to beat Fallston, 66-62, in overtime. Then they finished off their regional run with a 70-51 win over a strong Northwestern squad.

This young team had a lot to live up to after four straight regional championships. They didn't want to break the streak and that proved powerful motivation.

"That's pride in itself and I tried to tell them that every day," said Millers coach Pam Wright. "We have a lot of good players who've gone on, players whose accomplishments you want to live up to and keep it going. Every day you look up in the gym and see those banners. I'm sure you want one too. You don't want to be the one to have to say, 'We didn't get it when I was here.' That helps."

In the other semifinal, the Yellow Jackets (23-2) got 21 points and 16 rebounds from Maryland-bound 6-foot-1 senior center Charmaine Carr as they took control early. They led by four after the first quarter, extended the lead to 29-21 at the half and 45-30 by the end of the third quarter.

Four Yellow Jackets scored in double figures - Carr, 5-8 guard Danielle Evans (15 points), 5-10 forward Markeya Watson (12 points, 15 rebounds) and 5-7 guard Crystal Johnson (10 points).

Urbana, which fell to Dunbar in last year's Class 2A final, got most of its scoring from the backcourt. Katie Armentrout scored 16 and -Kathleen Vistica added 11 for the Frederick County Hawks (20-6).

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