Top HS basketball recruits highlight John Wall Tournament

Millbrook extended its long-standing tradition of making opening night statements at the John Wall Holiday Invitational, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The Wildcats needed to stave off Southern Durham’s attempted rally before prevailing 70-63 at Broughton High School on Tuesday.

The Wildcats’ leading statement was apparent when the team took the court in Holliday Gymnasium while wearing new Columbia blue uniforms. Millbrook, which opened in 1923, has had Columbia blue among its historic accent colors. The statement, too, was a tribute to Dana King — the school’s previous principal, who died last April.

“We started doing all these crazy things,” Millbrook coach Christopher Davis said of the school’s sports teams’ color combinations. “She (King) was like, ‘Those are not our colors. What are you doing?’

“One thing I promised her is that I would get a light blue uniform.”

The generosity of previous Wildcats guard Chris Clemons (Class of 2015) facilitated the new uniforms’ arrival. Game jerseys include the Wildcats’ last names on the back.

After Tuesday’s win, Davis vowed the light blue uniforms will be worn again.

Millbrook built a 25-5 lead after the first quarter, and led by 18 (35-17) at halftime. Southern Durham shot a chilly 17.9 percent from the floor in the first half, including zero 3-pointers. The Spartans converted seven free throws to cut into the Wildcats’ lead.

“Most of the season, we’ve probably played 20 or 24, even in the games we’ve won big,” Southern Durham coach Greg Motley said. “We’ve just got to figure out how to play 32 minutes.

“We don’t want to quit, ever. That’s big, and we’ve pushed them to do that.”

The Spartans outscored Millbrook in the second, third and fourth quarters, but were hindered by what proved to be an insurmountable first quarter deficit. Southern Durham got within two possessions (five points) with 4:13 remaining, but drew no closer.

Gabe Cerda paced the Wildcats with 24 points (6-8 field goals, 11-13 free throws). Cerda added five assists and four steals. Millbrook 6-fot-7 sophomore Colt Langdon added 16, and teammate Blake Bartney chipped in 11.

“Our kids came out super aggressive, super active defensively and offensively in the first half,” Davis said. “They put us in some situations to make it tougher for us in the second half.”

Spartans’ sophomore Jackson Keith netted a game-high 32 points, including 25 in the second half. Keith (8-14 field goals) converted 16 of 18 foul shots and pulled down 13 rebounds. Teammate Jaelen McKee scored 11.

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