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Mills did what a first-place team is expected to do when playing a home game against a team in the bottom half of the 4A-5 Conference standings.

The Comets (14-4, 7-0) won, defeating an undersized but scrappy Stuttgart team 77-58 at the Galaxy on Friday night.

Mills had moments of domination, especially in the first quarter when Orion Virden (21 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals) hit four three-pointers as the Comets raced to a 23-6 lead.

But 6-8 center Kevin Cross, Mills' big man, stood above everybody else.

Cross accumulated 38 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and blocked 2 shots in a performance designed for drawing the attention of college recruiters.

Cross had 20 points at halftime as Mills led 45-28. He added seven more points in the third quarter, which ended with Mills up 57-41, and finished with a flourish as the Ricebirds (8-8, 1-6) stayed close enough that Mills Coach Raymond Cooper never felt like retiring his big man to the bench.

"I never felt comfortable," Cooper said. "Not one second did I feel comfortable."

Cross, a big man with a soft touch inside and out, did his best to keep Stuttgart at arm's length with a career-high scoring effort that Cooper is certain will attract the attention of more recruiters.

"As more people figure out that he's really good, man, a lot more attention is going to come his way," Cooper said.

Stuttgart did its best to stay within striking distance, using the aggressive guard play of Tim Johnson (15 points) and the three-point shooting of Jake Banks who finished with 4 three-pointers and 17 points.

Stuttgart cut Mills' 17-point first-quarter lead to 27-20 midway through the second quarter before Cross,Virden and Braylon McCrary countered to build an 18-point halftime lead.

"We had some good spurts and we had some bad ones," Cooper said. "Their guards were really quick, way quicker than we expected, and they were going to the basket. ... We couldn't keep them in front of us. We got a lead, and they came right back at us."

Cross, Virden and McCrary combined for 68 of Mills' 77 points, but Cooper was not going to quibble over the lack of balance.

"A conference win is a conference win," Cooper said.

About the only thing that surprised Cooper was Cross' final total.

"I knew he had a lot, but I didn't know he had that much," he said.

Sports on 01/12/2019

Print Headline: Three combine for 68 points to keep Mills perfect in 4A-5

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