Things did not go well for Miller’s girls basketball team out of the gate.
But Miller’s girls hit the reset button in the second quarter and clawed their way back out of that 10-point hole to win 48-43 in the VISAA Division II semifinals at Steward. They’ll now get a chance to play for a sixth-straight state title Saturday against Highland.
“Being down 10-0, we haven’t been in that situation any this year,” said Miller coach James Braxton. “We had to fight back and it took awhile. We just had to stay the course and we still pulled it out.”
The Mavericks scored just two points in the first quarter, a pair of late free throws and Nansemond Suffolk’s Alivia Giles, the Saints’ biggest scoring threat, got going with 10 first quarter points.
Miller flipped the script in the second quarter though, winning the frame 13-5 to get back on track and trail just 17-15 at the break. Olivia Wagner and Naya Hunter did most of the heavy lifting on offense in the second and they both combined to help Miller navigate a night where the offense just wasn’t coming as easily.
“Naya Hunter and Olivia Wagner have been in state championship games previously and it helps the other kids with their confidence,” Braxton said. “Because they know they can count on those two to take the ball. Those two were really big for us and they were tough.”
Hunter finished with 18 (the bulk of that coming at the line where she went 10-for-15) to lead the Miller offense while Wagner grinded out another 15 points including a pair of 3-pointers. Marta Wagman chipped in another six points for Miller.
Miller briefly took the lead finally late in the third quarter, but still trailed 37-34 midway through the fourth. Down the stretch, Hunter provided some difference-making free throws and Wagner scores six fourth quarter points.
Giles finished with 23 points to lead the Saints, going 9-for-14 at the line in the second half.
Miller will face Highland at 1 p.m. at Steward School in Richmond with the state title on the line.