Mills named All-Area Boys Coach of the Year

May 16—The Allen High School boys basketball team had its sights squarely on the Class A State Tournament.

And like the famous quote from the Scooby-Doo cartoon says "They would have gotten away with it if not for that meddling Drummond team."

The only thing that stood in the way of the ninth-ranked Allen boys and the state tournament was a pair of agonizing losses to No. 7 Drummond. The Bulldogs edged Allen 57-54 in an overtime thriller in a Class A Regional championship game before slipping past the Mustangs 46-44 in a Class A Area Tournament consolation title game with a trip to the state tournament on the line.

The Mustangs had reeled off 18 consecutive wins before meeting Drummond for the first time and finished the season with a 25-3 record. As a result, veteran Allen head coach Greg Mills was named the 2024 All-Area Boys Basketball Coach of the Year.

Allen's only other loss was to local rival Stonewall in the finals of the Pontotoc Conference Tournament hosted by the Longhorns. and in that game, the AHS team was without the services of starter Garrett Nix.

In a February home matchup, Allen avenged that early loss as part of the big 18-game winning streak.

"We had a really good season. We would have liked to have gone a little further. But the boys played outstanding," Mills told The Ada News.

Both losses to Drummond were eerily similar and both games were there for the taking.

"It was very frustrating. It was two games that could have gone our way," Mills recalled.

"They were a tough matchup for us," he continued. "They had three pretty good guards. We played well enough to win both games. Toward the end of both games, it seemed like all the breaks would go their way. Still, we had our opportunities. It just didn't happen. It came down to some little things here or there."

Allen was arguably playing about as good as anyone in Class A heading into the playoffs.

"We were playing well. We were hitting on all cylinders," Mills admitted. "We felt good about the way we played, we just wish we could have done a little bit more to get in. We had good leadership and kids that wanted to win and put in what it takes to get there."

Allen played all year with starter Garrett Nix hobbled by a knee injury. He and Brayden Tatum were considered one of the top guard duos in the state, especially when Nix was healthy. However, Nix banged up his knee during football season and had to play through pain on most nights.

"Garrett is probably the toughest kid I've ever coached — mentally and physically, he's tough. He played with that knee injury all year long and didn't complain about it," Mills said. "His 50-60 percent is still as good as some people's 80 to 90 percent. Every time he stepped on the floor, you held your breath. He might jump into the stands — one time he jumped over the scorer's table. He's one of those kids you don't get very often."

Mills really liked the makeup of the 2023-24 Allen Mustangs from top to bottom.

"Overall, they were one of the best teams I've ever coached," he said. "They played hard. They left it on the floor every night."

Mills was also The Ada News All-Area Boys Coach of the Year in 2002.