With the final week of the regular season in plain sight, Brittany Mills and her Harnett Central girls basketball teammates knew what was at stake.
Three wins and maybe, possibly, a state playoffs berth was waiting for them on Sunday.
Mills came through with her best stretch of the season, averaging 14.6 points, while also leading the Lady Trojans with four assists and 4.3 steals in three wins that earned them a wild-card bid to this week’s postseason tournament.
“I think that when I just looked for my own shot, it never went my way ... but if I help my teammates, then soon it’ll help me,” Mills said. “As a team, I feel like we gave all we could, especially since the fact that we have been playing so much recently.”
On Feb. 15, the veteran floor general had seven points and five assists in a 53-51 road win at Union Pines who, at the time, was undefeated.
Mills followed with a season-high 22 points in the blowout victory at Southern Lee the next night.
Central coach Chelsey Cabe says she puts a lot of weight on Mills’ slender shoulders because the team relies on her, and added that she was pleased with Mills’ performances during the most important week of the season.
“She’s a senior point guard. I tell her that she has the hardest job on the floor, ‘You are the one that starts the offense, you’re the leader and pick up the intensity on defense,’” Cabe said.
“Before, she was trying to force her points. Now, she’s allowing other people an opportunity and allowing the play to develop, and that’s where her open shots came from.”
Ahead of the regular season finale against in-county foe Triton last Friday, Mills says her fellow upperclassmen teammates were especially motivated, given the large implications surrounding the matchup.
“We were all thinking that we’re gonna come out and give all we got because it’s our last home game,” Mills said.
“It’s our rival game. I mean, what other better game to win and go to the state playoffs?”
Mills finished with 15 points and a season-high six steals in the team’s 51-38 triumph, avenging a loss to the Lady Hawks from earlier in the season.
“The girls really rely on Brittany ... I felt very confident in her and I think she felt very confident in herself,” Cabe said of Mills after the big victory.
Meanwhile, Mills had her coach’s comments ringing through her head throughout the contest and said that was key in making sound decisions for her team on both ends of the floor.
“Coach Cabe always says defense, layups and free throws win ball games. And so, if we played [defense] good, then our offense would start getting better,” she said.
Below is Mills’ acceptance speech along with some of her responses to a list of personal questions from The Daily Record staff.
Acceptance speech: I’d like to thank coach Cabe, she helps me push harder every day. My teammates keep me motivated. And my dad is always pushing me to do better.
Dream vacation: Hawaii.
Pregame routine: Listen to music, eat and talk with my friends.
Favorite food: Mexican. I like quesadillas and rice.