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Millbrook teachers, like the Wildcats, are ‘All In’

Carla Allen knows what a good story is. Allen is also good at pushing the story forward and adding a new element to make the tale even better.

When Allen heard of the Wildcats’ new ritual this postseason to use royal blue poker chips as a reminder for the team to be “All In,” she wanted to get the whole school involved.

Millbrook held a pep rally Friday afternoon to celebrate the Wildcats reaching the NCHSAA 4A championship game for the second consecutive year. During the event, many teachers and staff members wore the same T-shirt: A royal blue shirt with “We’re All In” going across the chest.

Spartans have used school bus as their secret weapon

During Sanderson’s playoff run, the team hasn’t run away from using superstition as part of its success. In fact, the Spartans have been adamant about keeping their new superstition going.

Assistant coach Raymond Hammond said it all started with the bus the team has used during the postseason.

“All coaches have superstitions,” Hammond said. “Every time we’ve got on the bus we’ve been successful.”

The Spartans described their bus as the ugliest one the school has. That’s because it is more than 20 years old, making it the oldest one at Sanderson. And yes, it takes a few times for the engine to get started.

“It’s really old,” said Dashawna Smith, a senior guard who laughed at the situation.

The Spartans (20-8) stared using the bus two weeks ago for the Cap Eight conference tournament because it was large enough to transport both the varsity team and JV players who wanted to attend the postseason games.

Sanderson is 4-1 since using the bus. The only loss was to Millbrook, the team the Spartans will play tonight at the Crown Arena in Fayetteville.

Millbrook boys basketball off to a quick start

Millbrook guard Karon Blount knows the Wildcats are a different team from a year ago. As a senior though, Blount is surrounded by many of the same teammates. He still has the same point guard in senior Shi’Chee Moore (pictured left) and veteran coach in Scott McInnes.

Yet Blount feels the Wildcats, who host Wakefield (5-0, 1-0 Cap Eight 4-A) tonight at home, are more mature and better prepared to have a successful season from start to finish.

“We are different,” Blount said. “We play much harder on defense.”

On Friday night against Broughton, the Wildcats (6-1, 1-0) looked like a team that learned its lesson from the previous year.

Last season, the Wildcats reached the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4-A state championship game mainly because of their defense. But Millbrook had to mature over the course of that season. After all, the Wildcats started the year with a 2-6 record.

That’s not the case this season.

Unbeaten Wildcats win Clayton basketball championship

The Wildcats 11- and 12-year-old team went undefeated in winning its
Clayton Parks and Recreation winter youth basketball championship.

Coached by Rich Haberkorn, the Wildcats (11-0) defeated the Red Storm
(8-3) with a come-from-behind 41-34 victory on Feb. 22 at the new
Clayton Community Center gymnasium, team representative Wayne Smoak
Reported. The Wildcats won their regular-season and tournament titles.

Eight age groups and tournaments in nine age divisions involved more
than 50 teams.

Kentucky boots Heels from tourney 76-69

updated 9:20 p.m.

NEWARK, N.J. -- All season long, North Carolina coach Roy Williams warned that eventually, star freshman Harrison Barnes would miss a clutch shot.

Sunday, in the most frenetic and pressure-packed of circumstances at the Prudential Center, he missed two.

With the ultimate comeback on the line – a trip to the NCAA Final Four, after a failure to even make the field last March – Barnes-led UNC came back from an 11-point deficit against Kentucky only to lose 76-69 when Wildcats guard DeAndre Liggins made a big 3-pointer, while Barnes and point guard Kendall Marshall failed to make four shots in the final 62 seconds.

Tudor's Take: Observations on the eve of UNC-Kentucky, Part II

Not your December's Barnes

North Carolina and Kentucky have changed significantly since the two met on Dec. 4 in Chapel Hill.

The Tar Heels won that one, 75-73, even though freshman forward Harrison Barnes did not play well.

In 25 minutes, Barnes scored 12 points but missed six of his 10 field-goal attempts, committed three turnovers and was limited to four rebounds.

Wildcats knock Duke out of NCAA tourney, 93-77

updated 12:45 a.m.

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Duke’s hopes of posting back-to-back NCAA championships came to a crushing end Thursday night as an energetic and red-hot Arizona team ran out to a stunning, 93-77 upset of the top-seeded Blue Devils.

Derrick Williams scored 25 of his 32 points in the first half to help the No. 5-seeded Wildcats overcome an 11-point deficit. And Arizona shredded Duke’s defense with drives, 3-pointers and offensive rebounds in the second half to turn the game into a rout.

Sanderson finds its offense in 2-0 win over Millbrook

RALEIGH There was no denying Anna Dulaney’s impact on Sanderson’s 2-0 win over Millbrook on Wednesday night. It was written all over her walk.

After struggling to score goals the last two weeks, Sanderson (4-3-1, 4-3-0 Cap Eight 4-A) needed more out of its offense against Millbrook (4-4-0, 3-3-0). It needed to more opportunities. It needed someone to scrap. That’s what Dulaney did.

She put herself in the middle of the action against Millbrook, forcing the defense to match her intensity. Sometimes it resulted in offense for herself – taking a Savannah Parrish pass and putting it in the upper-left corner in the 54th minute – and other times it set up her teammates as she drew a foul in the penalty box Olivia Costello’s penalty kick in the 70th minute.

Millbrook basketball through Principal Dana King’s eyes

Very seldom do we high school reporters get a chance to talk to administrators of the schools we cover. But with the circumstances this week surrounding the importance of Millbrook having both its girls and boys basketball teams playing for a state title tomorrow, I felt Principal Dana King needed to have a voice in our coverage.

I’m really glad I had a chance to meet King, who not only was Wake County’s Principal of the Year in 2010 but she is an avid sports fan. She knows her basketball and she was able to give a good sense of the pulse at Millbrook right now. She’s been at the school for 10 years and has seen the Wildcats only come close to a state championship. Now with both teams playing for the titles for the first time, here’s what King had to say about the school rallying around its basketball teams.

King on Millbrook’s victories in Fayetteville in the Eastern Regional final:

“I was in tears because it was such an emotional day and because we’re the underdogs. And those are our kids. It was high visibility for the school. We were in the stands saying to each other ‘What does this means?’ For our Millbrook Maniacs it meant you run around the gym.”

On what makes both teams refreshing:

“I’ve been here those years when someone was the perceived superstar on the team and the attention is on that person first and everybody might get mention if they have a good game. For some reason both teams have figured out the right combination of playing for each other and doing what the coach tells them. I think this team understands they have to work together to play at this level. It’s fun to see that everybody has a place on this game and that everyone needs to contribute.”

Millbrook girls want to continue their rise

For the past few day Millbrook has become the center of the high school basketball in the Triangle. Both the boys and the girls team have advanced to the NCHSAA 4-A Eastern Regional championship. Each team has an interesting story. Here’s what I learned Thursday when I visited the girls team.

For most the season, the public perception was that Green Hope had the best team in the area thanks to the great success of guard Kristen Gaffney. The star junior who average 30 points a game this season suffered a right ankle injury that prevented her from playing against Millbrook in the sectional championship game. It was this round where most people expect Millbrook’s season to end, yet the Wildcats went on the win 48-39, and coach Chris East said his girls want to keep proving people wrong.

“We read blogs and newspapers about how good the Tri Nine was, and in reality, I thought the Cap Eight was the toughest conference and those last games were so close that they felt like playoff games,” East said.

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