Milton sophomore Kanaan Carlyle (15), defended by Denmark senior Sutton Smith (2), two of the top performers in Friday night's game. 

MILTON, Ga. — Denmark looked dominant against Milton in the first three quarters of Friday night’s bout between two top-10 ranked teams in Class 7A. Games last four quarters, though, and the No. 1-ranked Eagles stormed back to erase a 17-point deficit in the fourth and force overtime, eventually defeating the No. 9 Danes, 72-68.

“I thought we played awful for three quarters,” Milton head coach Allen Whitehart said. “We lacked intensity. For us it’s about playing at a championship level all the time, and I don’t feel like we did for three quarters tonight.”

Milton trailed by 15 points entering the fourth quarter, as Denmark seemingly had control over the Eagles and momentum on its side. That feeling quickly slipped away, however, as Milton started the quarter on an 11-2 run to cut the Danes’ lead to four points with four minutes remaining.

A few minutes later, Milton senior Broc Bidwell tied the game with a put-back layup with 1:31 remaining. Each team had a chance to take the lead and win in regulation, but the defenses stepped up and sent the game to overtime tied 60-60.

Milton played most of the fourth quarter without five-star junior guard Bruce Thornton, who took an inadvertent hit to one of his eyes in the third quarter. Five-star sophomore guard Kanaan Carlyle stepped up in Thornton’s absence, sparking their comeback and helping finish it off in overtime.

Carlyle and the Eagles outscored the Danes by four points in overtime to take home another win over a top-10 team, their fifth so far this the season. Carlyle finished with 19 points, most of which came in the second half, along with four assists and two rebounds.

“Kanaan played like a five-star, which he is,” Whitehart said. “He played like he’s supposed to play.”

Despite only playing three quarters and some of the overtime period, Thornton finished with a game-high 23 points and added four assists and one rebound. Junior forward Kendall Campbell scored 12 points and grabbed five rebounds. Sophomore L.T. Overton, playing in his first basketball game of the year after Milton’s football season ended last week, added six points and seven rebounds off the bench.

Smith finished with 14 points, 11 assists and 4 rebounds in the loss for Denmark. Scott led the Danes in scoring and rebounding with 22 points, including four 3-pointers, and nine rebounds. The loss to Milton was only the second loss of the season for Denmark, which moves to 7-2 overall and 2-1 in region play.

The game between No. 1 Milton and No. 9 Denmark came together in a matter of two days. The Eagles were originally scheduled to take on Lake Norman Christian (NC), but the Storm had to back out of the 5-Star Classic at Milton.

Whitehart called Denmark head coach Tyler Whitlock on Wednesday and asked if the Danes would like to play in place of Lake Norman Christian, and Whitlock accepted the offer.

“I think [Denmark’s] really good,” Whitehart said. “When I called them to come play, I knew they were that good. We needed that test.”

With the win over Denmark, the Eagles move to 6-2 overall and 1-0 in region play. The Eagles lost by one point to No. 4 McEachern in the opening game of the season and lost by three points to the No. 1 team in 3A, Sandy Creek, a few games later. The Eagles have since won four straight, including wins over three of the top 10 teams in 7A.

“We just got to stay at a certain level,” Whitehart said. “We’re not there all the time. We brought our football guys in, so the chemistry is a little off right now. But that was a heck of a win to be down 17 to a team like that.”

Herald Sports

Herald Sports

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