City senior guard Omari George said the Knights' No. 1 priority going into the season was improving on their ability to close out games, citing last year's playoff loss to Milford Mill as the biggest reason why.
In the highly-anticipated rematch against the Millers in Saturday's finale of the 18th Annual Basketball Academy at Morgan State, the Knights didn't have to concern themselves with a strong finish.
In a showdown between the No. 1 and 2 teams in the area, it was top-ranked City that started fast and maintained a safe lead throughout to come away with a 65-53 win over the No. 2 Milford Mill.
George was the early catalyst, scoring the Knights' first six points and finishing with a game-high 16 points. Kamau Stokes added 15 as the Knights improved to 13-0 on the season.
"It was a big game and we knew we had to come out fast and continue to play hard through the entire game," George said. "We were a little slow in the second half, but it was a good game for us.
"I knew I had to be a leader for the team. I had a slow game yesterday, so I knew I had to come out and redeem myself today."
Milford Mill, without standout point guard Justin Jenifer due to an ankle injury suffered on Friday, fell to 9-3.
The Knights built a 17-6 lead after one quarter behind George and Stokes, who hit a 3-pointer and added a basket later, and their advantage increased to 30-15 at the half.
The Millers, who got 12 points each from Anthony Brown and Allen Costley, were not able to pull closer than 10 points in the second half.
The game was a rematch of last year's Class 3A North region title game, won by defending state champion Milford Mill, 60-55.
After the Knights rallied to tie the score in the final minute, the Millers scored the game's last five points in the last 53 seconds to claim the win.
With City moving to the Class 3A East region, the teams wouldn't meet again until the state tournament if they both advance through region play.
No. 1 City 65, No. 2 Milford Mill 53
C -- 17 30-51 65
MM -- 19 12-26 53
C – George 16, Stokes 15, Bond 7, Ju. Grant 9, Jo. Grant 6, Williams 9, Davis 1 . Totals: .
MM – Brown 12, Costley 12, White, Jr. 10, Alston 6, Moore 6, Cooper 4, Isaac 2, . Totals: : .
Half: C, 30-15