Kai Crutchfield stick-back stuns Northwest Guilford, wins the 4A Girls Championship at the buzzer for Millbrook
By: Evan Moesta
Andreal Bass missed a free throw for Millbrook with 3.5 seconds left in regulation, and the Wildcats trailing Northwest Guilford 45-44 but the errant shot fell into the hands of junior Kai Crutchfield, who put back an offensive rebound as time expired to lift her team to their third 4A Girls State Championship victory in the last five years.
Entering the game with a 30-0 record, the Vikings gave Millbrook all that they could handle in the first half, and fourth quarter. Toni Tucker, and Cayla King each downed first half three’s as Northwest shot 43% from the field, and 80% from the line. Heading into the locker rooms at halftime, Coach Melissa Joyner’s team had their biggest lead of the game at 24-18. Shots were hard to come by in the opening two frames for Millbrook as they only downed 26.3% of their first half attempts. Crutchfield led the Wildcats in scoring with six points at the break.
The third quarter would be a different story as Millbrook came out with a vengeance, and opened the second half on a 10-0 run to take their first lead since being up by three with 4:14 left in the first quarter. Crutchfield started the comeback with a corner three, then Dazia Powell pulled up for a left wing jumper and left wing three on back-to-back possessions to put the Wildcats up 26-24 with 5:27 left in the third.
A three ball from Savannah Neas, along with two free throw makes from Bria Gibbs would allow the Viking to get back within one possession at 33-30 with 57.7 left in the quarter but a Jaleesa Dillard put back layup for Millbrook sent the Wildcats into the final eight minutes of play with their largest lead of the night, 35-30.
Milbrook would maintain that lead for the first 1:46 of the final frame before Morgan Pointer would get one to go off of the glass, and Savannah Neas would rattle in a three to cut the Wildcat lead to 39-38. Pointer, who would be awarded Most Outstanding Player for Northwest Guilford found success in the paint once more with 3:23 left in the game to give the Vikings their first lead since 5:27 of the third.
Toni Tucker would increase the 40-39 lead to 41-39 with a free throw make but Millbrook’s Most Outstanding Player award winner, Dazia Powell would answer with two of her own at the charity stripe to tie things up at 41 apeice with 1:58 left in regulation. Each team would exchange timeouts over the course of the next 35 seconds. The Vikings would attempt to milk the clock for a late shot but a turnover sent the ball the other way for Kai Crutchfield who would miss a corner three attempt. Pointer grabbed her team high ninth rebound of the game and pitched ahead for Tucker for a go ahead three with only 1:06 left to put Northwest Guilford up 44-41. Crutchfield was fouled on the ensuing possession, and cashed in with two free throw makes to pull the Wildcats within one with 57.7 seconds left.
A Viking miss led to one final possession for coach Chris East’s team who would find Andreal Bass (5 points, 14 rebounds) in the paint. Bass was fouled with Millbrook trailing by one, and she hit the first of two shots. The second missed shot was put- back by Crutchfield for her team leading 17th point of the game and the team’s third championship in five seasons. Kai, a North Carolina State commit was named the Kay Yow Most Valuable Player. Millbrook has made four state championship appearances in the last six seasons, winning their last three in 2012, 2013, and now 2016.