CERRO GORDO — Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond's Mycaela Miller outscored Okaw Valley for most of the first half.
The 5-foot-3 senior sharpshooter posted 19 of her 25 points in the first half and helped the Knights capture the Little Okaw Valley Northwest Conference tournament title 62-49 on Thursday night.
“My teammates kept finding me open and they had really good passes,” Miller said. “It's pretty easy to score when you get good passes from your teammates. “
It didn't quite match her career high 27 points from her sophomore year, but she still managed her first ever four-point play and a charge taken.
They happened instantaneously in the first quarter.
After braving a charge at the baseline, Miller delivered a 3 from the left corner and drew the foul for the four-point play and a 9-5 lead with under five minutes left in the opening period.
That fired her up for the rest of the half.
She scored 12 points in the first quarter and hit three straight 3-pointers, which bled over into the second period for a 25-9 advantage.
“We have very balanced scoring,” Arthur coach Craig Moffett said. “She's been a scorer at different points in her career. She's very unselfish like the rest of the team. She was catching it in rhythm and shooting with confidence. She was getting good pocket passes and didn't have to reach for the basketball.”
Arthur junior guard Hannah Wallen then started to chip in during the second quarter where she scored six of her 10 points. She delivered the last 3 of the half for a 39-20 lead by the break.
Teammate Megan Fifer also had 10 points.
“We all take our turns," Miller said. "We just try to find the person who's open. We try to play as a team and try to find the person that's open the most.”
Miller shot 5 of 7 from behind the arc. As a team, Arthur went 7 of 10 at the perimeter.
“A lot of that is on the girls,” Moffett said. “They came out ready to go. They moved the basketball unselfishly.”
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Arthur (16-3) built up enough of a lead in the third quarter — which went up by as much as 47-24 — to hold off Okaw Valley's Paige Robinson.
The junior playmaker carried the Timberwolves (14-8) with 35 points, scoring 21 in the second half.
“I was very proud of the girls' effort in the second half,” Okaw Valley coach Brad Ackers said. “We've kind of been on a winning streak lately and our zone defense has been difficult on people. They got into a rhythm and that's probably on me. I probably should of got out of it a little bit sooner. But we've been hot lately the way we've been playing.
“They were the more aggressive team in the first six or seven minutes of the game. I think that made the difference.”
Sequel coming soon
Arthur will play Tri-County on its home floor 7:30 p.m. on Saturday for the Little Okaw Valley Conference title. Tri-County won the LOVC Southeast crown 55-43 over Villa Grove-Heritage.
The Knights will then play at Okaw Valley on Monday.
Miller's weathered a neck injury that started during the fall.
She missed about a week of games during the season and returned back to the court earlier this month.
“I think the girls are disappointed and that's a good thing. They don't take losing real well, so hopefully we can make corrections and get back after it.” – Ackers