Miller Lady Cardinals continue impressive roll with two big wins

Skylan Akins

The Miller Lady Cardinal basketball squad is coming off a 2020 quarterfinal appearance with the majority of the team back. The big question, however, is how they would fare in a brutal opening stretch of the season. So far this year, they haven’t seen anyone smaller than class 3.
The most impressive part about the team is the suffocating defense that coach Sean Price has implemented, which has turned the Lady Cardinals into a force that has made them the most dangerous team in the area. The Lady Cardinals have only allowed—an unheard of—27 points per game against some of the top teams in the area. Last week, they had two more big tests; first against a very good Fair Grove team that was fresh off of beating a top 10 team in Class 5 West Plains, and Class 5 Webb City.
The Lady Cardinals had another challenge against Fair Grove, as Price—who is also the boys' basketball coach—was with the boys’ team at Morrisville, so it was assistant coach Ryan White on the bench for Miller.
It was a quick start for the No. 2 team in Class 2 Miller, as senior Claudia Hadlock hit a three on the first possession of the game. The offense continued for Miller, taking a 23-14 lead into halftime.
Fair Grove came out in their vaunted full court pressure early to begin the second half and had some success. They trimmed the Miller lead to just six. However, roughly at the five-minute mark, Miller was able to figure out the press and started getting open looks at the bucket. Kaylee Helton and Hadlock had a huge stretch to close out the third quarter, combining for 18 points in the final five minutes of the quarter to extend the Cardinals lead to 43-30.
Miller’s defense saved the best for last, as the starters were on lockdown on that side of the ball. Offensively, Hadlock was dominant once again and put the game out of reach early in the fourth quarter. Miller took the early season showdown, 61-38.
“Fair Grove is a good basketball team. They are a young team, but they are fast and athletic. They give us fits inside.” Miller assistant coach White said. “The girls are the ones that stepped up and won the game. They are such good basketball players it doesn’t matter who is on the sidelines. They are coached well, but they have done it and are experienced. So, it’s easy for someone like me to step in when I need to. They can do it. When things are going rough, I don’t have to panic because they can get it done.”

Helton said the game plan was to dial in on defense.
“We knew coming in it was going to be a tough game, so we came in keying in on Kameron (Green) and not letting her score as much as she has been, and we put our priority on the defense, and it helped us win the game,” Helton said.
“Our defense wasn’t the best tonight. We wanted to hold (Green) a little lower but Fair Grove is young but they’re already a great team,” Hadlock said. “We knew that (Green) was averaging 20 a game but the girl from Har-Ber scored 32 the night before and we held her to six and held Yates from Carthage to two, but them scoring 38 points isn’t good enough. We have been holding teams to 30 and coach White told us that if we give up 40, we are running all of next practice. Yeah, we win the game by 20 but it’s not good enough. Our expectations have never been higher, and we hold ourselves to that standard and that is why we will be very successful.”
The team then followed that up with an impressive win over a good Class 5 squad, Webb City. The most impressive aspect of the win was the 43-12 dismantling performance by Miller’s defense.
The two wins last week move Miller to 6-0 heading into one of their biggest challenges of the season. They played Monday night against Class 2 No. 4 Blue Eye on the road in their only game of the week.


Lawrence County Record

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