Pleasant Ridge girls advance; Leavenworth and Lansing boys eliminated
By all accounts, Pleasant Ridge High junior Julie Miller is a really good kid.
That doesn't mean she isn't competitive and doesn't have her fellow Rams' girls' basketball players' backs.
As the Rams struggled in the second half against visiting Atchison County Community Tuesday night in a Horton sub-state quarterfinal, it would be Miller who would tower over everybody and lead a winning charge.
The 6-foot-2 junior got hot late thanks to the help of her teammates and pushed the No. 3 Rams (13-8) past a feisty No. 6 ACCHS squad, 58-48.
PR, which was led by Miller’s 20 points and Lindsey Heim’s 13 points, advances to a Friday semifinal at Horton against No. 2 Maur Hill-Mount Academy at a time to be determined.
“It’s nice to get out of the first round,” PRHS head coach Mike Koontz said as his Rams’ advanced after a few years’ drought. “They played their butts off tonight. I’ve been preaching to them about adversity and it was going to hit sometime and it was the team that dug deep that was going to find a way to come out. That adversity hit at the end of the third quarter and we found a way to fight through it and be the team to come out on top.
“It wasn’t just Julie, we got her the basketball, but she was the one who finished it. She did a heck of a job finishing and that’s what we have to get out of her.”
The Rams established an early edge behind a wave of triples - two by Kailey Wilburn and another by Montanna Adams - and a ripple of inside play to lead 12-4 before settling for a 16-10 edge at the end of the first eight minutes.
ACCHS was not going to go down easy and they kept things honest, pulling wthin 4-5 points on multiple occasion before the Rams began to take control.
With more height, size and length, Pleasant Ridge capitalized on its clear advantages and pushed out to an 11-point lead before settling for a solid, 28-19 edge at the intermission.
The Tigers clearly took exception and decided to do something about it.
Coming out of the break, ACCHS spread the Rams' defense out more, fired up more makes from outside and took advantage of bad, Pleasant Ridge close outs in triple attempts to force two, three free-throw-attempt opportunities and three such chances through the third quarter.
The Tigers took a 35-34 lead on a free throw late in the quarter and would take a 36-34 edge into the fourth period on a technical free throw.
The technical seemed to be just what the Rams needed.
That was when Miller had enough.
“It’s a point of getting ticked off and wanting to beat them so bad,” Miller said. “It’s not just me, it’s the whole team. They were making good passes and we just had to keep our heads in the game. We thought at the time we were up and could slack off a little, but we picked it up as soon as the ’T’ was called.
“(Her teammates) passed to me and if I can’t get the shot up, I go back out.”
The Rams scored the fourth quarter's first 10 points, nine by Miller who scored on four power moves at the rim - including a hoop-and-harm - to lead 44-36, south of the four-minute mark.
She also helped defensively, challenging a number of shots from all points of the floor.
The run continued as Pleasant Ridge pushed its lead back into double figures and the winding down clock on the scoreboard became the Rams' best friend.
Ultimately, ACCHS was held scoreless for seven-plus minutes following the technical and the Rams were heading to the sub-state semifinal Friday night.
“On the court (Miller) is definitely too nice and she needs to be a lot meaner and I’ve had people tell me that,” Heim said. “She is a sweet girl, but man she showed up tonight. It was awesome and that’s what we need going into the post season.
“We got together (after the technical) and were like, ‘We have to go now. We can’t let this bother us.’ Honestly, that’s what picked us up. It frustrated all of us, but we didn’t think the (technical) was called for. That’s what brought us together.”
CLASS 5A SUB-STATE SEMIFINAL RESULTS
No.1 Pittsburg 70, No. 16 LANSING 57
No. 5 DeSoto 40, No. 12 LEAVENWORTH 26