Mill Creek girls fall in first round of state tournament

ROSWELL — Mill Creek had advantages in talent, size and depth against first-round opponent Roswell in the Class AAAAAA girls state playoffs.

Roswell had Adreona Keys, and that was enough to offset whatever the Hornets lacked.

Keys scored 31 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, doing most of her damage early and late to lead Roswell to a 66-54 victory Friday.

Mill Creek closed within 52-49 on a three-point play by Meredith Schulte with three minutes to play, but Roswell hit 14 straight free throws in the final 2:35, 10 by Keys.

The Hawks managed just one field goal after Schulte’s basket, ending a cold shooting night that handed Mill Creek its first-ever, first-round state tournament loss.

Mill Creek made the state playoffs seven straight years from 2006 to 2012, advancing to at least the second round each time, before failing to qualify for state last year. Friday’s game was a rematch from a thrilling overtime victory in the 2011 quarterfinals for the Hawks, who reached the semifinals that year.

Keys was a freshman starter for the Hornets that season, and is headed for Purdue. She took control of the game early and helped Roswell preserve its lead with 13 points and a strong rebounding effort in the final quarter.

The Hornets led 18-7 after one quarter, with Keys accounting for all but one Roswell point, scoring 11 in the period and feeding Nikki Cwalina inside for three baskets. Keys was seven of eight at the foul line in the quarter and 19 of 23 for the game, driving hard to the basket to draw fouls despite double-team efforts by the Hawks.

Mill Creek closed within 27-23 at the half and took three one-point leads in the third quarter before Keys keyed a 9-1 run that was capped by a 3-pointer from Emily Pruitt, who started the fourth quarter with a long-range basket to put Roswell ahead 45-38.

Led by Schulte, Mill Creek kept the game close with some strong play inside, but the Hawks were never able to put together an effective offensive surge.

Schulte led Mill Creek with 21 points, hitting 14 of 18 free throws. She also had just one of two 3-pointers for the Hawks, who had no one else with more than seven points.

Mill Creek, the No. 3 seed from Region 7-AAAAAA, finishes 20-9. Roswell (21-8) was the regular season champion in 5-AAAAAA before losing in the tournament finals. The Hornets play at Archer on Monday.