Miller’s 32 lifts Lady Rebs over New Wash, lead SAC
South Central senior Shelby Miller knows first-hand the rivalry against Southern Athletic Conference foe New Washington. As a freshman, Miller dealt with losing the regular season contest to the Lady Mustangs but later stood up and hit clutch free throws in a come-from-behind win in the 2007-08 sectional semi-final.
Saturday night at New Washington, Miller poured in 32 points, as the Lady Rebels rallied from 12 down in the third quarter to score a 62-60 victory.
‘We knew coming up here we would have to face adversity,’ Miller said. ‘In the locker room, we talked about tradition, tradition of winning. The seniors, we know what it takes to come to New Washington and beat them. We just had to come together late, get stops on the defensive end and be patient on offense.’
The Lady Rebels rallied around their senior and chipped away at the New Washington lead in the second half. Consecutive 3-point plays from the Lady Mustangs pressed the lead to the largest of the night, 38-26, early in the third quarter.
From that point, South Central began to attack the basket. A pair of Miller field goals, wrapped around a pair of senior Katie Dennison free throws cut the margin in half. Later in the frame, senior Katie Saylor hit a jump shot, followed by a 3-pointer from the hand of freshman Jessica DeWeese. The spurts cut New Washington’s advantage to 42-39.
The Lady Mustangs, however, closed the third quarter with a 4-1 run to extend the lead back to six.
‘There late, I thought we were in serious trouble,’ South Central coach Randall Schoen said. ‘Teams in the past had been able to overcome a deficit. If we could grind out a game, it would impress me. I was glad from that aspect we could grind and tighten up our defense late.’
The grind came in the fourth quarter. South Central struggled from beyond the arc the entire first half, but sisters Shelby and Kelsey Miller hit 3-pointers to tighten the game at 50-46.
During the remainder of the game, South Central did damage in the paint. Shelby Miller and Saylor accounted for a 9-4 run that gave the Lady Rebels their first lead since early in the first quarter. Saylor’s free-throw line jumper at the 1:50 mark put her team up, 55-54.
New Washington responded with free throws from Chloe Franklin and Kriston Sarver to go ahead, 58-55, with 1:21 remaining.
Shelby Miller continued to head to the foul line after driving to the hoop to draw contact. She hit 5 of 6 inside the final 1:08 to give South Central the lead for good. Defensively, the Lady Rebels also tightened up. They forced two big turnovers late, including Dennison inducing a Franklin miscue with 24 seconds remaining.
‘We were way more aggressive than usual,’ Shelby Miller said. ‘Coach said to be more aggressive and draw more fouls. I’ve never seen us that aggressive, so I was impressed with the way we attacked the basket.’
Schoen said forcing the issue had more of an effect than going 25 of 37 from the charity stripe.
‘We had talked about how we don’t get to the line enough,’ he said. ‘The last four or five games, we’ve attempted just five to 10 free throws. Not that we are a great free-throw shooting team, but you have to put fouls on girls. They did a nice job of that, putting fouls on Franklin. And when they had to pull her, that was a big plus for us.’
Freshman Kelsey Miller hit a pair of free throws with 12.9 seconds left to extend the lead to four points. New Washington hit a field goal with 3.1 seconds on the clock, but South Central was able to run out the time.
Shelby Miller finished with 32 points for the second consecutive game and added 11 rebounds, seven assists and six steals versus the Lady Mustangs.
‘Shelby has been in this situation, in this type of game, with this team before,’ Schoen said. ‘She was a freshman at one time against New Washington, hit free throws in an important game and came to realize how big this game is. She has seen it, and the other seniors had to explain what the game means to the younger girls.’
Kelsey Miller added 15 points for the winners, while junior Kristin Miller gave a big effort off the bench with nine rebounds.
‘Kristin Miller went to the boards strong,’ Schoen said. ‘That is something we’ve been talking to her about all year. Hopefully, this is something she can build on, that she can go strong to the boards for us and be a factor.’
The win secured at least a share of the SAC championship for the Lady Rebels (6-12, 4-0 SAC).
‘We still have to go to Borden, and they will be tough for us,’ Schoen said. ‘Record-wise, I wish it was better, but our goals remained conference and sectional. We’re one game away from accomplishing that first one. If we get it, it will be a big push toward sectional.’
Sarver lead New Washington (10-7, 2-1) in scoring with 13 points, followed by 12 from Franklin.
South Central will hit the road today (Wednesday) when the Lady Rebels take on Silver Creek at 7:30 p.m. The Lady Dragons are coached by former Lady Rebel assistant and Randall Schoen’s son, Scott Schoen. He is in his first year with Silver Creek, holding an 11-5 record.
On the road again Saturday, the Lady Rebels seek to close the SAC season undefeated against Borden at 2:30 p.m.