No. 4 Millers drop New Town in Balimore County boys' finals; girls cruise to repeat (VIDEO HERE!!)
VIDEO by Tony Powell
It was business as usual for Milford Mill Academy boys’ basketball team Tuesday evening. The Millers won their fifth consecutive Baltimore County title.
Now, it’s time for some unfinished business. The No. 4 Millers top No. 15 New Town, 70-62, in a front of capacity audience inside Milford’s Debbie Stefans Gym.
The Millers also successfully defended their girls’ crown with a 76-33 decision over New Town. Quierra Murray had a game-high 31 points and sophomore Dionna White added 15.
Milford Mill (21-2) overcame a slow start, outscoring New Town, 28-3 in the second quarter to forge a 42-16 halftime lead en route to a second straight girls' league championship. It may not have been the perfect performance , but Millers coach DeToiya McAliley liked what she saw the final 24 minutes.
"The last time we played them we played that defense and it worked," McAliley said. "But in the first quarter it wasn't working, so we went to a zone and made them shoot from the outside. We got a lot of long rebounds and we scored a lot of points in transition.
It's all about making adjustments. When something's not working, you have to change it up. We still need to work on defense. That's the key to getting through the region."
White has been the focal points of the Millers' attack this winter, but Murray stole the show Tuesday. The Western transfer scored 14 points in the third quarter featuring three three-pointers, a layup and three free throws.
"I got open and they kicked it out to me and I just stepped forward and shot," Murray said. "It felt good. I could feel it. We were only up one point in the first quarter and we decided to change our defense.”
Sophomore guard Destiney Taylor-Betts led New Town (17-6) with 11 points and Sydney Hines added 10. The Owings Mills school, which hasn’t have the services of senior and University of Tennessee recruit Jannah Tucker (out all season with ACL injury), will be the No. 1 seed in the Class 1A North Region playoffs.
The Millers are third-seed in the 3A North Region and opens against C. Milton Wright Friday or Saturday. The region is arguably the toughest state with defending champ Aberdeen and Baltimore City powers City College and Digital Harbor.
“We want to get to states,” said Murray. “That's our goal.”
The streak is now 85 games in Baltimore County boys' play for Milford Mill, which got 16 points from senior guard Bruce Watkins and 15 each by sophomore guard Justin Jenifer and junior forward/center Allen Costley.
The Washington Avenue school (21-2) pulled away in the second half to continue arguably the greatest run in Baltimore County basketball history. In 2011, the Millers became the first team in a quarter-century to win consecutive Class 3A state championships.
Their pursuit of a three-peat came to an stunning end with a home loss to Patterson in the North Region finals. That has served as a motivation for this year's squad.
"I think last year we got too caught up in all of the emotions," said Watkins. "We started getting away from playing like a team and doing too much one-on-one stuff. Tonight we played more like a team. We knew that we had to win because everyone remembers that we lost the region last year.”
Milford Mill first-year coach Mike Silverman commended his players for their efforts on both ends of the floor, although he did see plenty of room for improvement. The Millers owned a modest, 39-32 halftime lead that dwindled to three points early in the third quarter.
They regrouped and owned the last five minutes of the third quarter and the early stages of the fourth quarter to open a commanding 67-52 lead with 3:35 remaining following consecutive three-point field goals from Costley and Dedrick Lee.
“To be able to play hear and overcome the noise and stay focused in a hostile environment showed me a lot," said Silverman. "I thought we did a good job containing Daniel [Shand]. He's really the key to their offense. We got plenty of open looks and we shot the ball well.”
Senior Justin Brown finished with a game-high 29 points for New Town while Shand, a talented junior floor leader, posted 11. Titans coach Mike Daniel said his team was a little impatient, trailing nine points entering the fourth.
"I think we needed to be smarter on offense," said Daniel, who reached the 500th career win last week against Randallstown, clinching the school’s first county finals berth. "I thought we got away from a lot of the things that have been working well for us all season. We got to within three points [at 41-38] early
in the third quarter and I thought we had all the momentum. But we made some mental mistakes in the third quarter and [Milford Mill] hit all their open shots.”
The Titans got to within 41-38 in the third quarter on consecutive baskets from Juwan Dorsey and Brown, but Jenifer countered with a three-pointer and added two more buckets later in the period. A baseline dunk by Brown brought New Town to 50-44 and enlivened the New Town faithful.
Davonte Williams brought the Millers’ home audience to its feet, draining a three-pointer for a 53-44 advantage entering the final quarter. The last time Milford Mill lost to a county team was in December, 2008 at Woodlawn.
The Millers are again the No. 1 seed in the Class 3A North Region where defending state champ Patterson and City College could be their greatest obstacle. The last four region champions have gone on to win state title.
“We want to get through the region and get back to states," said Watkins.
Baltimore County basketball championships
No. 8 Milford Mill Academy 76, New Town 33
New Town - Taylor-Betts 11, Hines 10, Wilson 9, Driver 2, Robinson 1.
Milford Mill - Murray 31, White 15, Smoot 13, Lewis 10, McKenzie 4, Berry 2, Veney 1.
No. 4 Milford Mill Academy 70, No. 14 New Town 62
New Town – Shand 11, Brown 29, Sherrod 1, Wainwright 5, Mack 2, Dorsey 8. Totals 23 13-17 62.
Milford Mill – Watkins 16, Lee 11, Jenifer 15, Costley 15, Williams 7, Cooper 6. Totals 26 9-25 70.
New Town 15 17 12 18 – 62
Milford Mill 17 22 14 17 - 70
Last Updated (Thursday, 21 February 2013 08:00)