Millis girls hold off determined Dedham in hoops rematch

MILLIS — A well-known axiom among coaches cites the difficulty of beating a team three times in one season. But how about twice in 48 hours?

That’s the odd situation that some teams find themselves in when scheduling in a pandemic, and it proved tricky for the Millis girls basketball team on Sunday as it trailed a Dedham squad it handled convincingly on the road Friday by a bucket late in the first half.

The Mohawks put together a 5-0 run in the final minute of the second quarter to grab the lead at the break, however, and exploded for 22 points in the third to pull away for a 50-36 Tri-Valley League victory and improve to 2-0 on the season.

“Everything was a lot of work today,” said Millis coach Dave Fallon, whose team was a 54-22 winner in the first meeting. “(Dedham) played better, as you’d expect, We looked sloppy the whole day, but in the third quarter we were able to get some steals off our pressure and turned that into some quick hoops and got some momentum.”

Senior captain Abby Miller, the slick southpaw catalyst of the Millis attack, paced the Mohawks with 13 points, including six in the pivotal third. But she was far from alone in the key quarter as six different Mohawks had field goals, led by junior Julia Grattan, who had all seven of her points in the stanza.

“We knew at halftime that we had the energy and the endurance to be a second-half team, so I knew that the third quarter was going to be our quarter, because it always is,” said the Babson-bound Miller.

Miller was one of six seniors to be honored before the game, along with Eryn Rice, Grace Jewett, Caroline Munday, Courtney Bickford and Georgia Gelasco. Miller and Rice, who each would have had a shot at reaching 1,000 career points in a normal season, have been starters since their freshman year for a program that has gone to the last two Division 3 Central finals, winning the title in 2018.

“It’s been a blessing (to coach them),” said Fallon of Miller and Rice. “They are obviously excellent basketball players but also excellent kids so I feel really lucky. The whole senior class is a really positive group that has left a legacy at Millis.”

Dedham, which has been led by assistant coach Jim Hurst for the first two games, is coming off the first sectional semifinal appearance in program history, but lost three-fifths of its starting lineup to graduation. The Marauders still have one of the TVL’s best in junior Avery O’Connor, however, who had a game-high 20 points and 16 rebounds.

Dedham led 8-7 after the first quarter and held a 14-12 advantage in the second, but went scoreless for the final 3:25 of the half, opening the door for Millis to go up 17-14 entering the abbreviated halftime.

The Mohawk press then struck early in the third for a quick 9-0 run for a 26-14 edge, and the Marauders never got within seven the rest of the way.

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