Eyes on the Prize: Miller girls back in the title game

Miller’s girls basketball team usually lives and dies by the 3-pointer.


But not when Hannah Woodard gets going underneath in the second half.


“We started finding the person under the basket, we were settling for too many jump shots in the first half,” said Miller coach James Braxton.


With the Mavericks up by just two at the break, Woodard scored eight of her 10 points in the third, helping Miller take control en route to a 57-40 VISAA Division II semifinal win over Norfolk Christian.


“We’re not a really big team, however we do know how to use our bodies and how to be quick, and we use that to our advantage,” Woodard said.


Woodard used that to her advantage during that key third quarter stretch and in turn the Mavericks advanced to the VISAA Division II state final where they’ll face fourth-seeded Seton with Miller searching for its fourth-straight state championship.


Miller’s defense had to step up against Norfolk Christian with Kiara Norman in the lineup. Making things tough on the senior guard that average about 25 points per game was critical.


“We knew coming into the game, she can shoot the ball 20 or 25 times in a game so we came in prepared to cut her attempts,” Braxton said. “She still got them off but they were a lot of forced shots and tough shots.”


Braxton finished with 25, but nobody else on the Norfolk Christian roster finished with more than seven points. Meanwhile, Miller turned to a balanced offensive attack, with Aby Morrill leading the way with 12 points and Hannah Coles notching 11. With Woodard’s strong push in the second half and seven points each from Secret Bryant and Yasmine Tyler, the Mavericks had all the scoring they needed.


“I’m very proud, not really for me but for my team,” Woodard said. “Just knowing that we’ve grown together and then picked up new people and when we stick together, it just really makes a difference.”


Up and down the lineup, the Mavericks got exactly what they needed from seemingly every player who took the floor, surviving a physical, bruising contest with depth.


“We definitely were a little bit deeper and we had a couple of people come off the bench and give us some quality minutes like Kiana Johnson who made some easy buckets,” Braxton said. “Everybody we brought in did what we needed them to do.”


Now the Mavericks get to formally defend their title against the Cinderella Seton squad that upset Atlantic Shores in the semifinal ahead of the Mavericks’ clash. After a long season with some twists and turns, Miller is back in the title game looking for a fourth-straight trophy.


“It’s just keeping your eye on the prize,” Woodard said. “We had some doubt, but overall it has just been next play, next game, next pass, next shot.”


The Mavericks’ next shot will come with a title on the line.