There’s something about the VISAA Division 2 title game that brings out the best work in Miller. Facing a Seton team that the Mavericks beat by two back in January as well as in last year’s state semifinal, Saturday’s final with the Conquistadors was an opportunity for the three-time defending state champions to show just how much progress they had made since then.
Suffice it to say, it was simply a good day at the office for Miller as it rolled past Seton, 52-28 behind an explosive second half and a big performance from beyond the arc that locked up Miller’s fourth-straight VISAA D2 championship.
“I figured we’d have to hit a couple of three but I didn’t know we’d go nine for 11 and that’s definitely the best we’ve shot all year,” said Mavericks coach James Braxton. “During the playoff we’ve had a good first and a good third and that’s important in basketball. If you can jump on a team there and get some stops, it’s a different ball game. We did a fantastic job on defense because (Seton) can light it up.”
Miller started the contest with back-to-back 3-pointers from Aby Morrill and Secret Bryant to go up 6-0, but Seton cut things to 9-7 heading into the second quarter. And from there the Conquistadors played their best defense and caught up and then some, taking a 15-13 advantage with 2:40 until the break. It was their only lead though. The Mavericks tied things up at 15-15 and finished on a 6-0 run to make it 19-15 going into the second half.
“We were confident coming in and knew we had to play our game, not their game,” Morrill said. “We came out in third and just decided to win this game. We wanted it for the seniors, our coaches, our team. Four straight, it means a lot and that we’ve learned a lot.”
While Morrill and Bryant carried the load in the first half offensively, Yasmine Tyler hit three of the first four field goals for Miller to start the third and then Hannah Coles got hot from outside. As such, Mavericks quickly found themselves up 29-17. And then in another blink of an eye, it was 39-20.
Miller coasted from there. With the game well in hand in the third quarter as the Conquistadors could not get anything going inside and had to settle for 3-pointers on a day they did not shoot well, the game was never in question in the fourth.
Tyler led the way for the Mavericks with a 15-point effort in her final game with 11 of them coming in the second half. Morrill had 11 points and a trio of three’s. Coles finished with 10 points. Bryant had eight points.
The win marked the fourth straight state championship for the Mavericks, and while more than a handful of players have three rings, only Coles has been with the team for all four.
“This fourth one, it’s unbelievable,” Coles said. “I never thought I’d get to do this, to win four state titles. I can’t explain it. It was rough in the first and second quarter because we were nervous. But at halftime coach Braxton reminded us this is our last game together and we needed to go out there and leave it all on the floor.”