MILTON, Ga. — After a shaky start to the night, Milton defeated North Cobb in decisive fashion to move on to the Elite Eight of the Class 7A state basketball tournament.
Before the Eagles ran away with the contest, Milton’s offense struggled to get going in the first quarter. The Eagles converted a single shot in the opening four minutes of the game and trailed the Warriors 14-12 after the first.
Milton was also without guard Kanaan Carlyle, who scored a game-high 26 points against Central Gwinnett in the first round of the state tournament. The standout freshman played only a minute or two before exiting the court for the rest of the game.
Carlyle tweaked his ankle in practice the day before the game and wasn’t expected to play much against the Warriors, Milton head coach Allen Whitehart said. With Carlyle on the bench nursing his injury, the Eagles were without a major piece of their offense for nearly the entire game.
However, sophomore guard Devin Farrell stepped up in a major way.
“[Farrell] was locked in,” Whitehart said. “It’s huge for us because Kanaan is a dynamic player. We always talk about next man up. We’re built for it. Who’s the next man? Somebody has to take that role.”
Farrell, who also quarterbacks the Milton football team, made two three-pointers to open the second quarter, resulting in a quick timeout by North Cobb. Farrell made two more threes in the quarter to help the Eagles extend their lead, and Bruce Thornton hit a buzzer-beating shot from the top of the key to give Milton a 35-25 lead at halftime.
Farrell finished the half with five 3-pointers to his name, and senior Evan Hurst added nine points and four rebounds. Thornton had seven points and assisted on almost all of Farrell’s baskets.
The Eagles continued building their lead in the third quarter behind scores from Farrell, Thornton and Hurst. Hurst had a notable third quarter, scoring nine points and coming down with five rebounds to power Milton to an 18-point lead ahead of the final period.
The Eagles maintained a significant margin down the stretch to eliminate the Warriors and secure a spot in the Elite Eight.
Thornton finished with a game-high of 25 points to go along with seven assists and four rebounds. Hurst scored 22 points and had nine rebounds, and Farrell finished with eight rebounds and 18 points, all of which came from behind the arc.
Milton will play at home in the quarterfinals next week and will host the winner of No. 3 seed Newton and No. 4 seed Westlake.