Mill Creek High School survived its first scare of the year as the Hawks ran into a little bit of trouble in the basketball team’s season opener against Sequoyah High School. The matchup was played at North Gwinnett High School, the host of the tournament.
Senior Elijah Bryant drew first blood for Mill Creek with a two-pointer and Trevon Shaw nailed a wide open shot from behind the arc to take a 5-1 lead. Bryant continued his shooting spree with a long three from the edge of the court and a put back jumper.
A pair of free throws by Brandon Smith gave the Hawks a 12-4 lead but Sequoyah responded with a shooting spree of its own, pulling within one and then taking a two-point lead with less than two minutes left in the first quarter.
Later, Bryant nailed two from the charity stripe to tie that game at 16 apiece. He continued to be the workhorse for Mill Creek and completed a beautiful floater as time expired in the first quarter.
At the top of the second, both teams went on a scoring drought but Sequoyah ended the famine yet both teams continued to exchange leads.
The Hawks began to pull away late in the first half and went into the locker room with a 39-30 lead. Bryant and Shaw totaled 13 points each at the break.
Mill Creek added two to the board coming out of the half but did not have as many quick responses as they did in the first. However, they managed to take a 45-34 lead midway through the third quarter and held a double-digit lead through much of it.
It was only a matter of time before the Chiefs crept back; Sequoyah pushed the ball down the court and pulled within two with less than a minute left in regulation. However, a foul by Sequoyah put the Hawks at the line and they did not relinquish their 65-62 lead.
“We had turnovers there at the end. We have to clean that up,” said Head Coach Chad Rodgers.
“We’ll watch film and go over a bunch of stuff. We only had three weeks of practice and that’s including tryouts. We have a long way to go defensively. We have to learn how to move the ball a little faster. It’s just going to take some time.”
Rodgers means business when he sends his squad on the court and pushes them to compete at a high level. In particular, Smith clashed all night with athletes who were bigger in size but, being battle tested, will make him a stronger player.
“He’ll grow up and he’s going to have to be able to guard some quick guards and not let them get to the hole,” Rodgers said.
The Hawks have great shooting capabilities but left many rebounds in the hands of Sequoyah which gave up plenty of second chance opportunities.
“They were trying to make it more of a half-court game and we’ve got to get out and run a little bit,” said Rodgers.
The Hawks will be back in action at home on Nov. 27 against Norcross High School. Show time is set for 7:30 p.m.