Miller Lady Cardinal season ends in sectionals at hands of Blue Eye

Skylan Akins

Miller senior Kaylee Helton spots up and hits the Lady Cardinals’ first field goal of the game against Blue Eye. Helton will go down as one of the most decorated Miller athletes ever as she was part of four basketball district championships. She also added three volleyball district championships, as well as bringing home the first ever Lady Cardinals state championship this year.

There were sky high expectations for this year’s version of the Miller Lady Cardinals, as three straight trips to the quarterfinals wasn’t enough. The goal was obvious. Get over the hump and make the Final Four for the first time since 2010. The Lady Cardinals fell short of their expectations though losing to Blue Eye, in a battle of top 4 teams in the state, 56-30.
Miller looked to be in great shape to achieve their goals as they came into sectionals 23-3; winners of 12 straight games including a 57-28 massacre of College Heights in the district championship. Next up was one of three teams to beat Miller in Blue Eye, who got the better of the Lady Cardinals early in the season, 31-27, at Blue Eye in a fantastic game. However, the Miller girls and their head coach Sean Price were prepared to write a new ending.
The Lady Cardinals were not ready for the offensive struggles that they would face in the opening half of the game. They didn’t see a single shot go through the basket in the first quarter with the exception of a pair of free throws by senior Kaylee Helton. The defense of Miller helped keep the margin slim to just 12-2 despite three 3's by Blue Eye’s Avery Arnold. The second quarter saw many of the same struggles as the bucket seemed to have a lid on it. Miller wouldn’t score until the 5:12 mark when Helton would finally get the first field goal to fall for the Lady Cardinals. However, by that time the lead had swelled to 20-4. The Lady Cardinals went on a small run in the remaining five minutes of the half and the Blue Eye shots slowed down, but Miller would trail at the half 22-7.
The hope from the team coming out of the half was that they had just played the worst half of the season and were only down 15 to one of the best teams in the state. Unfortunately for the Lady Cardinals, the Lady Bulldogs got going offensively again with three more 3's in the third quarter. Miller struggled again offensively and let the lead extend to 37-19. In a do or die final quarter, Blue Eye couldn’t miss from deep hitting four more 3's to finish with 12 deep balls altogether and would end the Lady Cardinals season 56-30.
“We did a lot of good things this year and we are sad that it ended, but we are going to dwell on the good things," Price said following the game. "With the competition we had and the schedule we played, to win 23 games gives credit to our whole team. There were many nights where they could have folded but they battled through it and to win 23 games any year is a good thing, so I am super proud of them this year.”

Overall outstanding
The Lady Cardinals finish 23-4 this season with a district championship. The loss, however, marks the end of an era for Payten Richardson, Kaylee Helton and Claudia Hadlock. The three seniors finished with a remarkable record of 101-18 and four district championships.
“I am so proud of our three seniors and everything they have accomplished throughout their career. I get emotional just thinking about them because of what they did for me beyond basketball,” Price said. “You can talk about their basketball for hours, but what I will remember is how they are as people. You can talk about the Win for Ben and all they did for the community and there is a ton of sad things happening, but on a daily basis they are just genuinely good people."

The future of the Lady Cardinals still looks bright as they return three key contributors in Hailey Mart, Haylie Schnake and Alyssa Hill, as well as three freshman returners and the next generation of Lady Cardinals with the next freshman class.


Lawrence County Record

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