A strong fourth quarter allowed fourth-ranked Millard West to fend off the upset bid of sixth-ranked Millard North.
The visiting Wildcats grabbed the lead at the start of the fourth Friday night and refused to give it up in a 54-50 boys basketball win. Millard West boosted its record to 16-6 while the Mustangs fell to 11-10.
The game was tied 41-41 entering the final period when Spencer Sharp sank a jumper to put the Wildcats ahead to stay. The senior forward later added a layup and finished with a team-high 16 points.
“I thought Spencer had a nice game for us,” Millard West coach Bill Morrison said. “We also played better defense in the second half, and I think that was the difference.”
While the Wildcats wouldn’t surrender their fourth-quarter lead, they led by no more than four until the final minute. A layup by Josiah Gustafson cut the Mustangs’ deficit to one with 1:30 left, but that was as close as they’d get.
“That was a hard-fought game between two good teams,” Mustangs coach Chip Bahe said. “I thought we both played hard to the end.”
After Gustafson’s basket, junior guard Joey Koca knocked down a pair of free throws to put Millard West ahead 51-48 with 57 seconds left. Gustafson missed a 3-pointer on the Mustangs’ next possession and Koca was again fouled, though he missed both free throws.
Senior forward Connor Lusso hustled in and grabbed the rebound for the Wildcats and was fouled. He sank one of two free throws and went back to the line again after sophomore center Ben Kositzke blocked a Gustafson shot at the other end.
Lusso sank both free throws with 32 seconds left as Millard West opened a six-point advantage. A basket with three seconds left by Gustafson, who finished with a game-high 26 points, provided the final margin.
“I thought we were able to control the game a little more in the fourth quarter when we had that lead,” Morrison said. “We did a good job with that.”
Lusso finished with a double-double — 13 points and 13 rebounds. Teammate Josh Lallman added 13 points, including three 3-pointers.
Millard West (16-6) ................. 14 12 15 13—54
At Millard North (11-10) ................. 17 14 10 9—50
MW: Joey Koca 5, Josh Lallman 13, Tyler Kallman 2, Connor Lusso 13, Spencer Sharp 16, Ben Kositzke 5.
MN: Nick Roth 7, Zane Stull 2, Dillon Nelson 3, Zarek Steed 6, Josiah Gustafson 26, Nate Walter 4, David Seyler 2.
Millard North girls beat second-ranked Wildcats
Four players scored in double figures Friday night as fourth-ranked Millard North defeated second-ranked Millard West 63-51.
Mary Dineen led the 17-5 Mustangs with 19 points. She sank 7 of 9 shots from the field and made 4 of 5 free throws.
Taylor Bahensky, who was in foul trouble much of the game, finished with 12 for Millard North. Kenae Merritt came off the bench to score 11 while Holly Hild added 10.
That team effort allowed Millard North to prevail over the 20-4 Wildcats, who received a 27-point performance from Samantha Waldron. The junior guard tweaked her ankle with 5:31 left and did not return, though Millard West coach Kip Colony said the injury is not serious.
“She wanted to come back in because she’s a gamer,” he said. “But we have bigger fish to fry (the district tournament) next week.”
Millard North trailed by six in the first quarter but went on a 13-0 run to take the lead for good. The Mustangs led 35-26 at halftime and 50-40 after the third quarter.
“This was another really good win for us,” Millard North coach Scott Persigehl said. “This is always a big rivalry game, so I think the girls are pretty happy.”
Millard West, which defeated Millard North 64-52 in the Metro holiday tournament, turned the ball over 26 times and missed 11 of 24 free throws.
“Turnovers and missed free throws told the story,” Colony said. “And we didn’t attack the rim the way we should have.”
The Mustangs also hurt Millard West from long range, sinking 6 of 9 shots from behind the arc. The Wildcats sank five 3-pointers, including three by Waldron.
Millard West (20-4) ................. 10 16 14 11—51
At Millard North (17-5) ................. 18 17 15 13—63
MW: Paige Phipps 2, Samantha Waldron 27, Dani Saenz 7, Marisa Lowe 7, Kaci German 2, Jaylin Bosak 1, Kate Suelter 5.
MN: Ali Drey 1, Cami Brenner 4, Holly Hild 10, Mary Dineen 19, Kenae Merritt 11, Taylor Bahensky 12, Allie Swanson 6.
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