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Long-range skills help Hawks oust Marietta

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Photo by Brandon Brigman

MARIETTA — The famed Marietta Garden has been tough on opposing teams over the years. For the Mill Creek girls, it felt pretty comfortable Friday night.

The Hawks overcame an early deficit by making a remarkable 12 of 18 shots from 3-point range to thump Marietta, 61-46, in the first round of the Class AAAAA girls basketball playoffs. Mill Creek is in the Sweet 16 of the state tourney for the sixth straight season.

“We played well as a team tonight,” Mill Creek coach Ashley Phillips said. “I knew there were a lot of 3s because of the zone they were playing, but I didn’t realize we had that many. To have five different players hit them shows how we worked the ball for the good shot.”

The Hawks were held to only nine points in the opening quarter but those were all the result of a trio of 3-pointers, giving an indication of what was to come for the next three periods.

Coming off the bench with a hot hand for Mill Creek was sophomore Nadiya Miller. She hit one of the three shots in the first quarter along with Tamarr Williams and Sierra Menzies, whose shot fell with only three seconds left in the opening period. Marietta got out front early, 10-3, before Mill Creek narrowed the margin.

In the second quarter, Miller hit three more 3-pointers. Williams added another long range bucket as did Christina McDannald to account for 15 of the Hawks’ 17 points in the second quarter. The only two-point basket in the first half was by Elease Dillard. Marietta was held to only six points in the second quarter as Mill Creek took a seven-point advantage at halftime, 26-19.

Marietta took back the lead, 29-28. with just less than two minutes left in the third quarter as Mill Creek was cold at the start of the second half and in need of a spark to regain its edge.

That spark came from senior Alicia Brookins, who turned four steals into points and suddenly the Hawks were back up 37-32, as Marietta took a desperation shot to end the quarter. That shot ultimately resulted in four points as the shooter, Courtney Sprague, was fouled and made two of three foul shots. Phillips was also called for a technical foul when he objected to the call and Sprague made those two shots.

With those four foul shots made, Marietta only trailed by one, 37-36, going into the final quarter.

“I give our team a lot of credit for not letting that bother them,” Phillips said. “I probably shouldn’t have said anything.”

Brookins and her teammates played with resolve in the final quarter to take a commanding lead and ice the game.

“(Brookins) is a senior and just an outstanding player,” Phillips said.

Mill Creek, now 16-13 for the season, will host Northview on Tuesday for its second-round game.