New Millers show old form

Rout of Eastern Tech sends them to states

Milford Mill 62 Eastern Tech 37

Girls basketball

High Schools

March 04, 2006|By KATHERINE DUNN | KATHERINE DUNN,SUN REPORTER

Winning a state championship last season was a huge accomplishment for Milford Mill, but getting back to the state tournament this season may be an even bigger one.

After graduating their entire starting lineup, the Millers gradually grew as a new team this winter, and last night they rolled over host Eastern Tech, 62-37, to win the Class 2A North regional title. The victory avenged a 50-44 loss to the Mavericks on Feb. 1.

Last year's Class 3A state champs, the Millers (18-7) moved to Class 2A this year after the state's biennial reclassification, a fitting change for a team that started from scratch this fall. Last year's All-Metro Coach of the Year, DeToiya McAliley, blended former role players with newcomers, including transfers Ariel Blackwell from Northwestern and Brittne Gowdy from New Town, and found a winning combination.

Senior forward Brittany James, who had 15 points and 11 rebounds last night, said this team has the right chemistry.

"At the beginning of the season, we didn't really know each other," she said. "As we progressed in practice, progressed through the season, we became more molded as a team. Now we're the team we knew we could be."

The Millers, who will make their eighth appearance in the state final four in nine years, will meet No. 11 Atholton in the semifinals Friday at UMBC's RAC Arena.

Last night, Eastern Tech (19-4) jumped out to a 14-2 lead, but Gowdy pulled up on the break and made a three-pointer to break the momentum with two minutes left in the first quarter. Milford's press then gave the Mavericks fits, forcing 17 turnovers in the next 10 minutes and holding Eastern Tech to three points the rest of the half - all on free throws.

"We lost our composure on the press," Mavericks coach John Earls said. "The last game, the same thing, but we handled the pressure. We had some poise. Maybe it was nerves. I don't know."

The Mavericks shot 0-for-6 from the field in the second quarter and went without a field goal for 12:45. Katie McKay's layup on a feed from Bri Barksdale broke the field-goal drought 1:47 into the third quarter, but it didn't stop the Millers.

Milford Mill ran a 10-point halftime lead to 46-31 on a Gowdy three-pointer to end the third quarter, and it just kept increasing the margin.

Gowdy, who scored 15, said her three-pointer in the first half was the turning point at both ends of the court.

"I think that boosted our intensity to get back on defense," she said. "We played hard on defense after that. We got the steals. We out-hustled them the rest of the quarter to get back in the game, and I guess it boosted everybody else to want to score, too."

Blackwell added 14 points and also played a key role in holding Mavericks senior John'a Poole to 15 points, well below her metro-leading season average of 24.8.

katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

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