Pioneer girls complete season sweep of Wood

WINCHESTER — Millbrook junior Jada Arrington came from behind to swat the layup attempt of James Wood’s Erin Link out of bounds with 2:35 left in the first quarter, then let out a roar.

For the second straight day, the Pioneers were off to a great start. Only this time, they didn’t make head coach Cary Bartlett or their fans stress about the ending.

Arrington’s block came with Millbrook 12 points deep into a game-opening 17-0 run in the first quarter that bulged to 34-7 with 3:21 left in the second quarter. The Colonels settled down a bit from there, but they could never get closer than a 16-point deficit in the third quarter.

When it was all over, Millbrook had a 67-43 home win at Casey Gymnasium that completed a season sweep of the Colonels. The Pioneers (10-6, 4-1 Class 4 Northwestern District) beat James Wood (7-10, 3-4) 61-22 on Dec. 18, part of a stretch in which they’ve won eight of nine games.

On Friday, the Pioneers got off a 9-0 lead against Sherando, but had to hold on for a 44-42 win.

“We’ve gotten off to good starts, and then we tend to relax,” Bartlett said. “That’s the demon that we’re fighting right now, is just staying consistent for four quarters.

“I thought [Saturday] was more of a complete game than [Friday]. We talk each day that each game is an opportunity for us to get better as a team. We have bigger aspirations than just these wins. It’s all about us getting better at details.”

James Wood did not connect on a single field goal attempt in the first quarter, and made 3 of 8 shots from the free throw line. Millbrook had eight turnovers in the first quarter, but forced eight turnovers as well.

After Friday’s intense battle, Millbrook senior forward Valentina Burrill (seven points overall, nine rebounds in the last three quarters Saturday) said it was good to see the Pioneers start off so strong on Saturday with a quick turnaround, and keep the Colonels at a distance the remainder of the game.

“We did have our moments where we let up and we relaxed a little bit too much than what we would like, but we still knew what we needed to do and still competed at a level where we held [James Wood] behind us and we knew that could be in a comfortable position playing,” Burrill said. “And we still kind of had our foot on the gas that we need to continue going and pushing points.”

Burrill (five points) was one of six people to score in the opening quarter for Millbrook, with Michaela Owens (nine points for the game) leading the charge by knocking down two of her three 3-pointers.

The team’s leading scorer for the season, Jaliah Jackson (15.3 points per game, 11 on Saturday) didn’t have to score a single point in the opening quarter for the Pioneers to excel on offense. Jackson was one of seven people who scored at least seven points for Millbrook on Saturday.

“Everybody has a job, and everybody has their skills,” Burrill said. “We all share the ball and we all play as a team, which is what we’re going to need to go far. Everybody can get their own [points], and everybody has the confidence to do so, and that’s coming as we’re playing more and more along the season.”

Another person who didn’t score for Millbrook in the first quarter was Jane Moreland. The 6-foot-2 sophomore led the Pioneers with 13 points on Saturday (seven points in the second quarter, six in the fourth) four days after recording 11 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks in a 59-58 win over Skyline. Because of an injury, Moreland did not make her season debut until the first James Wood game, which was the Pioneers’ 10th game of the season.

“She’s really starting to find herself,” Bartlett said. “She was a standout for us in fall league. Getting her back to old Jane, and getting Jaliah healthy, that will help us in the long run, for sure.”

Hailey Williams (nine points), Essence O’Banion (seven) and Arrington (seven) were other top scorers for Millbrook, which is next in action on Tuesday at Liberty.

Brooklynn Medina (game-high 20 points) and Josie Russell (six points, 10 rebounds, six blocks) accounted for James Wood’s only scoring in the first quarter with two points and one point, respectively.

“Nothing was clicking in the first quarter,” James Wood coach Sanford Silver said. “We couldn’t put the ball in the hole. We expected [Millbrook] to be aggressive in trying to establish the point where they wanted to dictate the game, but we were just in our own way.”

The Colonels were short-handed without point guard Aubrey Nail, who was unable to play in a game-time decision. Russell’s nagging ankle injury cropped up in the second quarter, and Nayah Edwards picked up four fouls in the first half.

Led by Medina, James Wood did close the first half on a 12-3 run to make it 37-19, and Medina banked in a 3-pointer from the right side for her second 3-pointer in four seconds to make it 41-25 Pioneers with 5:23 left in the third quarter.

But Millbrook settled down for a 48-30 lead after three quarters and led by 31 before the Colonels scored seven unanswered points in the final minute.

James Wood had won three in a row coming into Saturday, so the hope is it can get rolling again starting with Monday’s home game with Fauquier. The Colonels will have four home games in five days.

“I think we’ve progressed this season,” Silver said. “I think our bench players today did a real good job, especially not having a lot of playing time this season, to come into a hostile environment and give a lot of defensive effort.”

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