Miller Lady Cardinals fall just short of Final Four

Skylam Akins

Miller senior Alyssa Hill battles through contact in what was a physical matchup against Bishop LeBlond. Hill was a key piece in Millers run to the quarterfinals where she finished with eight points against the top ranked Lady Eagles.

Miller Lady Cardinals were on the road Tuesday night as the sectional matchup took them over two hours north to Harrisonville to take on the 19-9 Archie Whirlwinds, with a spot to the state quarterfinals on the line.
Miller came out hot taking an 8-2 lead early on but the Whirlwinds responded with a 6-0 run to tie the game at 8-8. Archie’s student section was giving Miller fits at the charity stripe as the typically sure-handed Lady Cardinals shot under 50 percent from the line in the opening quarter. Miller built another lead 15-8, but a pair of Whirlwind buckets brought it back to a one possession game 15-12 at the quarter.
Defense continued to reign supreme early in the second quarter and Miller held onto a narrow lead going into halftime, 28-26.

After the break, Archie took a brief 33-32 lead but Miller fought back to control 40-37 at the end of the third quarter. The fourth quarter came down to free throws and Miller came through at the line, which helped defeat the Whirlwinds 52-40.

The sectional win set up Miller’s toughest challenge of the postseason last Saturday as they took on top-ranked Bishop LeBlond, after the Golden Eagles defeated Polo 49-39. Aside from being the top-ranked team in the state, LeBlond High School sits just two miles from the Looney Complex on the campus of Missouri Western where the game was held, opposed to the 221 miles that the Lady Cardinals trekked. But the Lady Cardinals were ready to roll Saturday afternoon with a ticket to the Final Four on the line.
Miller senior Alyssa Hill started the scoring off as a three in the opening moments which gave Miller the first lead of the game. The rest of the first quarter was not pretty offensively if you were a Miller fan, as a Rachel Nunez bucket with a minute left in the quarter and a pair of free throws was all the offense the Lady Cardinals were able to muster. Defensively, LeBlond took advantage of opportunities on the back side and capitalized on second chance points. The Eagles took a 12-7 lead after one quarter.
The struggles continued deep into the second quarter as Miller was held scoreless through the first four minutes of the period. LeBlond started to find some rhythm from deep and was able to extend the lead to 26-12 at the break. The Golden Eagles maintained their 14-point lead going into the fourth quarter, at 38-24.
The final period opened with defensive specialist Nunez getting tied up with a Lady Eagle and receiving a hard luck fourth foul that allowed LeBlond to extend their lead to 16, but more importantly run time off the clock. Miller was able to make a few runs but ultimately the offensive struggle in the second quarter proved to be too much for the Lady Cardinals to overcome. Their season ended one step before the Final Four with a 55-39 loss to top ranked Bishop LeBlond.
The Lady Cardinals finish the season 25-5 with a SWC and District championship to their name. The loss ends the illustrious careers of Alyssa Hill, Haylie Schnake and Hailey Mart that finish with a career record of 101-17 with four conference and district championships with two quarterfinal appearances.
“I told the girls that I am not worried about replacing their points or rebounds next year. I am terrified of replacing the leadership that those three brought,” Miller coach Ryan White said. “I mean, we had to travel all this way and they were the ones making sure no one was being rowdy in the hotel room. I mean they had everyone on the bus before I had even came down from my room. I am worried about who is going to take the leadership role of those three.”
There will be plenty of reason to be excited about the future of the Lady Cardinals as they will return the three freshmen starters in Ashlynn Helton, Rachel Nunez and leading scorer from this year Loghann Leivan. If they can take one the seniors work ethic with them, Coach White feels like this run isn’t over.


Lawrence County Record

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Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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