Late Surge: Wagner helps lift Miller girls past Surry

Photo by Bart Isley

For a little while at least, it appeared Miller girls basketball’s nine-game win streak was in jeopardy.


But then Olivia Wagner went to work.


Wagner powered a huge fourth quarter surge and the Mavericks pulled out a 51-40 victory over Surry County to win their 10th game in a row. Miller had to shake off a first three quarters where they just couldn’t find a groove to get it done.


“Coach said we were sleeping so we had to talk more,” Wagner said. “I think we just found our rhythm and our groove.”


About two minutes through the fourth quarter, Wagner got the Mavericks going with a drive from the wing that ended in a midrange jumper. Then she buried a pair of 3-pointers to complete an 8-2 run that changed the complexion of the game.


“It was a lot easier when we got that, then we had a little room,” Wagner said.


Hannah Woodard and Chloe Sable followed suit with buckets of their own and Miller was up 39-33, putting Surry on the ropes. Woodard scored twice more and Kiana Johnson chipped in a score to push the lead to 47-34. Surry never really counter-punched and the Mavericks picked up the win. Woodard gives the Mavericks a versatile post presence who can put the ball on the floor, and when she’s locked in she gives Miller’s offense an added punch.


“When Hannah scores, we’re really good and we’re hard to defend,” said Miller coach James Braxton. “I’m tough on her with shot selection but she definitely needs to get a decent amount of shots.”


For Wagner, Woodard’s versatile game is a particular blessing. Opposing teams have to be wary of just locking off the Mavericks’ point guard if Woodard, who finished with 11 points, is involved because she can make them pay.


“There was a lot of pressure on the guards right now,” Wagner said. “And to have a big body who can put it on the floor is good.”


Kianna Johnson chipped in 10 points and Naya Hunter scored seven points for the Mavericks. Jasmyn Pierce led Surry with 12 points and Alexis Nelson had 11 points while Breena Byrd had nine.


The Mavericks are the defending state champions and currently ranked No. 2 in the state in VISAA’s D2. With Wagner averaging 18.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.9 steals per game, the Mavericks have the centerpiece who could lead them to another title. Hunter, the reigning state player of the year, is averaging 10.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.3 steals per contest. Throw in Presleigh Braxton’s 3.6 assists per game and Woodard’s production and Miller is in a pretty good groove right now.


Getting a hard-fought win over Surry is a strong step in the right direction.


“We’re down five at halftime and they were suffocating Olivia which, she’s our leading scorer and we had a couple of kids who were beat up,” Braxton said. “We had to battle and it’s a good win for us, we’re going to need this win down the stretch, hopefully we’ll learn something from it.”


The Mavericks will face Holy Cross Friday at 5:30 p.m.