Lady Cardinals take districts—sixth straight time

Skylan Akins

The Lady Cardinals throw up six for their sixth straight district championship.

Miller junior Alexis Bailey hoists up the district championship trophy after defeating Marionville. (Photo by Skylan Akins)

Look to top Norwood Friday for trip to state Final Four

Dynasties come and go but when you catch lightning in a bottle, you want to take advantage because you don’t know when it ends. We have seen this across the state including a Crane squad that won four state championships in a row from 2012-2016. Strafford won 100-plus games in a row in part of a stretch that saw them win five straight titles and final four appearances in six of seven years from 2016 to 2022. Miller has outlived both of those dynasties, however, they still search for one thing—that first trip to the Final Four. They have been within one game four of the last five years, including a quarterfinal trip last year that ended in a devastating loss to Bishop LeBlond. As the Lady Cardinals opened their postseason play last week, they were five-time defending district champions with an eye to make it six—which they did.
Class 2 District 12 Tournament
Versus Pierce City
As the top seeded team, Miller enjoyed a first round bye but an eight day period between games left Miller with some rust. The Lady Cardinals battled to a one point halftime lead, 25-24. The lead grew to 45-38 at the end of the third quarter.
Hot shooting from the Lady Cardinals spelled doom for the Lady Eagles though, as Miller secured the 63-52 victory.
Scoring for Miller was led by Loghann Leivan with 23 points to match her jersey number. Ashlyn Helton followed her with 12 points. Juniors Alexis Bailey and Kendall Neely each added 11. Rachel Nunez wrapped up scoring with six.
Versus Marionville
The win vs Pierce City set up a district championship game against the Marionville Comets in a battle of the top two seeds in the district tournament. The two teams met 10 days earlier where Miller emerged victorious 53-46.
Although the battle returned, so did the final result as Miller clinched their sixth straight district title, 50-40.
“It was a battle. We knew it would be,” said Miller head coach Ryan White. “First time against Marionville, they battled back and we knew they would do it again. I am just so proud of the girls to keep battling adversity and just keep stepping up. Alexis Bailey just did what she does. She went through a dry spell but she came out on the biggest night and helped us win.”
With six straight titles, Miller joined elite, storied programs in southwest Missouri such as Strafford, Marshfield and Blue Eye.
Alexis Bailey led the Lady Cardinals with 18 points, followed by 13 from Loghann Leivan. Rachel Nunez added seven and Ashlyn Helton, Kaylee Thom and Kendall Neely all tied with four points.
Sectionals vs Crane
The district title meant a showdown with the Class 2 District 11 champion and perennial powerhouse Crane Lady Pirates. Miller defeated the Pirates back in December 55-53, ending a rare five-game losing streak that was the first such streak since 2014 for Miller.
Miller got off to a nightmarish start in this one as Crane built an 18-6 lead in the first quarter, but Miller cut the deficit to just three at the half 26-23.
Miller finally took their first lead of the game early in the third quarter after district championship hero Alexis Bailey got her first bucket to fall in the form of a three to take a 30-28 lead early in the quarter. The teams would trade baskets the remainder of the quarter but a pair of threes from Crane cut the Miller lead to just one 43-42 at the third buzzer.
The game deciding run came to begin the fourth quarter as a 12-2 run to open the quarter essentially salted the game, as Crane was unable to match Nunez’s six fourth quarter points which propelled Miller to their fifth quarterfinal game in six years.
Helton led the charge with 17 points in the epic comeback, followed by 12 from Leivan. Alexis Bailey added 11 second half points to finish just ahead of Rachel Nunez with 10. Kendall Neely added nine points and Kaylee Thom finished with two.
Miller improves to 21-8 for the year and is just one game away from reaching the Final Four. All that stands in the way is a 24-6 Norwood squad that comes to Miller Friday night at 6:30 for the quarterfinal showdown.


Lawrence County Record

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


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