Miller Lady Cardinals end losing skid against Crane Lady Pirates

Skylan Akins

Miller sophomore Loghann Leivan drops a defender late in the win against Crane. Leivan finished with a game high 24 points and legend has it that the ankles of the Lady Pirate defender still haven’t been found. (Photo by Skylan Akins)

The Miller Lady Cardinals have done something for the first time since 2014 and they hope to not do it again anytime soon. They have lost four games in a row. While this is unusual and has the Lady Cardinals extremely frustrated, their four losses have come against four of the best teams in southwest Missouri and three of them find themselves in the top six in the inaugural MBCA state rankings. Fair Grove sits at No. 1 in Class 3. Chadwick is No. 3 in Class 1 and Walnut Grove comes in at No. 6 in Class 1. After falling to Walnut Grove early in the week, Miller rebounded and ended the skid against a gritty Crane team in exciting fashion.
The Lady Pirates enter 5-2 after a win against Reeds Spring last time out. Miller on the other hand has played a brutal schedule and find themselves in a position they haven’t been in since 2014, trying to snap a four-game skid.
Much like how Miller has started in nearly every game so far this year, it was ugly for the Lady Cardinals. Turnovers and the inability to finish layups and at the free throw line saw Crane jump out to a 6-4 lead midway through the opening quarter. Tailor Cleveland was to thank for the Pirates, with a pair of nice layups. Miller sophomore Loghann Leivan tied the game back up at six with 2:30 remaining in the opening quarter. Crane built a lead behind solid defense and getting to the free throw line and it was the Lady Pirates that sat with a 12-7 lead after one quarter.
Miller struggled to hang on to the ball early in the quarter as turnovers allowed Crane to build a 17-12 advantage behind a pair of buckets from Sayd Vaught. However, after a Miller timeout, Coach White found something and Miller started attacking the middle of the floor. That led to buckets from sophomores Rachel Nunez and Ashlynn Helton to take their first lead since 4-2 in the opening moments of the game at 21-20. To close out the quarter, junior Kaylee Thom and Alexis Bailey found the basket in transition to give Miller a 26-21 lead at the break.
Crane came out guns a blazing in the third quarter behind a balanced attack but it was Miller that held a tight 39-37 advantage at the end of the third stanza.
The fourth opened with Miller hitting both free throws for the first time of the game thanks to Kendall Neely. After a Cleveland three, Miller would use a Leivan and-one to push the lead up to 47-43. Crane responded with an 8-3 run, and took the lead back, 51-50, with two minutes left. After the teams swapped free throws, the game was deadlocked at 53, with about 15 seconds remaining. After a pick and roll got snuffed out, Leivan looked to be in trouble until a foul was called with 2.7 seconds left. The sophomore knocked down both free throws and Crane didn’t get their prayer answered. Miller survived 55-53 and broke their worst losing streak since 2014.
Leivan led the way with 24 points for the Lady Cardinals followed by Ashlynn Helton’s 17 points. Rachel Nunez added six. Alexis Bailey scored four points and Kaylee Thom and Kendall Neely rounded out scoring with two apiece.
Miller continued to trend in the right direction Monday night with a win over a Mansfield squad that played in a quarterfinal game a year ago and nearly knocked off eventual state champion Fair Grove with dominating defense in a 52-35 victory.
Miller improves to 5-4 for the season with the win. They will be back in action Thursday as they tip off Walnut Grove Tournament action Friday at 3 p.m. as the top seed against Willard JV. With a third straight win, Miller would play Saturday at 9 a.m. in Walnut Grove against the winner of Ash Grove and Pierce City.


Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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