Hawks' freshman scores 32 in overtime victory

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips. Mill Creek's Elease Dillard (3), Sierra Menzies and Nadiya Miller (15) react as the Hawks take the lead in overtime against Roswell on Saturday.

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips. Mill Creek's Elease Dillard (3), Sierra Menzies and Nadiya Miller (15) react as the Hawks take the lead in overtime against Roswell on Saturday.

CARROLLTON — Of course, Jasmine Carter came away with the steal.

Not that she had a bunch before, this was her first. But it was exactly what Mill Creek needed and the freshman spent the fourth quarter and into overtime doing just that.

Carter scored 10 of Mill Creek’s 12 fourth-quarter points, six of their 10 in overtime and ended the game with a stunning 32 as Mill Creek made multiple comebacks to beat Roswell 64-59 in overtime of the girls Class AAAAA state quarterfinal.

“She’s a competitor and, obviously, a very talented player,” said Mill Creek head coach Ashely Phillips. “At the end of the game she wants the ball and always rises to the occasion.”

“I was impressed with what she did, but I can’t say I’m surprised.”

The surprise is her age and composure.

It’s her first year of high school basketball and Carter shot 11 of 12 from the free throw line and never let anything rattle her. Her game-tying basket with 15.6 seconds came off an offensive rebound on her own miss.

“When my shot missed, I was like ‘Uh,’” Carter said. “Then I saw it and I thought, ‘I can’t give up.’ I felt relieved (when it went in).”

The final comeback started with the Hawks trailing 49-42 with 5:12 left in regulation. Carter scored the next six points off two forced turnovers by the Hawks’ full-court press. They got as close as 49-48 and were never closer until Carter hit two free throws and followed with the game-tying layup.

“We felt like we could press them,” Phillips said.

The final comeback was one of seven total comebacks between the two teams during the game, and afterward Phillips likened Saturday’s win to his team’s whole season.

“I told them after the game, ‘This was a microcosm of our whole season,’” Phillips said “There were ups and downs and at some point the players looked at each other and said, ‘We’re better than this.”

Mill Creek started fast, building a quick 10-4 lead off of two of Tamarr William’s four 3-pointers. Williams ended the night with 14 points.

But six first-quarter turnovers later, the Hawks trailed 18-15. Williams hit three 3s in the quarter, but the Hawks struggled to slow down Roswell, which closed the quarter on a 14-5 run. The motion offense and passes in transition gave Shanteona Keys three assists in the opening quarter.

In the second, the Hawks failed to take advantage seven Jackets’ turnovers, falling behind by as many as 10 points. But a Carter layup and then 3s from Carter and Williams helped Mill Creek battled back to within 32-28 by halftime.

Alicia Brookins didn’t score a point in the first half, but her five rebounds and three assists help spark the late rally. And that’s what Brookins did all night.

Her nine points all came in the second half, but she also had eight rebounds, four steals and three assists. When the ball wasn’t around Carter, Brookins, a senior, found it.

“I have always played like that,” the quiet Brookins said. “From the beginning of the year, I just worked hard to end it off strong.”

And they are.

Mill Creek returns to the Final Four for the second time in school history and the first since Brookins showed up as a freshman.

“This has definitely been a big goal,” she said. “In the beginning we were just taking it step-by-step. It’s pretty exciting.”

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