Combine a tenacious matchup zone defense with the scorching hot shooting hand of Milford Mill junior Qierra Murray and you have the perfect tonic for a dominant performance and a championship.
That exactly what the host No. 3 ranked Millers (23-2) did in the second quarter of the Baltimore County title game Tuesday evening when they went on a 22-0 run en route to a 76-33 victory over New Town.
It was the second straight county crown for the Class 3A-4A Division champions who have won 23 games in a row since opening the season with losses to Aberdeen and St. Frances.
“We play a variety of defenses and when one doesn’t work, we have to change,” Milford Mill coach Detoiya McAliley said.
The Titans hung close in the first quarter and only trailed 14-13 at the break, thanks to eight points from Sydney Hines, including a three-pointer with 55 seconds left in the period to cut Milford’s lead to 14-13.
But they didn’t make a field goal (0-for-7) and committed 10 of their 18 turnovers in the second quarter against the matchup zone.
Meanwhile, Murray fed off the intensity and started shooting the lights out.
In the second and third quarters she scored 27 of her game-high 31 points.
“Once I hit my first two threes I was just feeling it and then my teammates started getting me the ball.” Murray said.
During one stretch, Murray made nine of 11 field goals (five three-pointers) and five straight free throws.
“That was awesome,” said McAliley, who also praised the overall effort of sophomore Dionna White.
White finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds, five steals and four assists.
“Dionna White is an awesome player and a lot of teams focus on her,” McAliley said. “She’s always on the boards and she plays great defense.”
Junior Kelli Smoot added 13 points and junior Akiri Lewis scored 10 points as the Millers turned the game into a track meet in the third quarter.
Sophomore Deja McKenzie contributed seven rebounds.
New Town (16-6), which earned the Class 1A-2A title with a 48-45 victory over Western Tech on Feb. 15, was led by Destiney Taylor-Betts (11 points, six rebounds), Hines (10 points, four rebounds) and Keyaira Wilson (nine points, three rebounds, three steals).
Tiana Davis (seven rebounds) and Mishawn Conyers (four) contributed on the boards.
New Town’s next challenge is the Class 1A North Region playoffs where they are the top seed and have an opening round bye.
Milford, the second seed in the Class 3A North Region, plays C. Milton Wright in the first round later this week.
Milford Mill 76
Murray 31, White, 15, Smoot 13, Lewis 10, McKenzie 4, Berry 2, Veney 1
New Town 33
Taylor-Betts 11, Hines 10, Wilson 9, Driver 2, Robinson 1Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun