Playing for the first time since the holiday break and hitting the court in the first of five games over a seven day stretch, Miller picked up in 2019 right where it left on in 2018. The Mavericks played host to VIC rival Covenant, and thanks to a roaring start, Miller was able to spread the minutes around and work on fine tuning things on both sides of the ball in a 72-48 victory.
“A game like this is good for the guys that work hard every day and don’t get a lot of the minutes in when you’re playing the Mount St. Joseph’s and the Westown’s of the world,” said Miller coach Danny Manuel. “Those guys put in as much work or more as the other guys so you always like to see them come out and show their stuff, what they can do, their ability. We’ve got a lot of really good basketball players that just happen to be on a team on an already really good team, so these guys sacrifice minutes sometimes and it was nice to see them rewarded tonight.”
The Mavericks raced out to a quick start in the first and just a few minutes into the second they held a 22-2 lead. Daryl Anderson and Garrett Payne combined to hit a quartet of three pointers in the first quarter alone. With five different players hitting field goals in the second, the Mavericks were able to get things going inside with Ethan Rohan, Keaton Howard and Tariq Balogun too.
“That first half went by really fast,” Payne said. “We were getting up and down the court, pushing them, all-in-all just great overall play offensively, making buckets and then making sure we got some stops on defense.”
Covenant struggled early from the field but was able to get going in the second to score 14 points in the frame to make it 33-16 at the break. With Jonas Sanker and Nic Sanker knocking down shots from the perimeter to start the third quarter, the elder Sanker was able to hit a 3-pointer that cut the deficit to 35-30 just nearly four minutes into the second half.
“The Sankers, they are both really, really good,” Manuel said. “And you could tell that those guys aren’t just really talented, but their leadership skills were definitely there and I know they’re both young but you can tell that’s going to big for them for years down the road. (Nic Sanker) even in the fourth he’s out there telling his team about coming up with one stop at a time and that’s the kind of stuff that leads to success down the road. That’s a team that’s going to improve down the road, I know this is a tough game for them but that’s one thing I love about Covenant — they do not shy away from playing these games out of their division.”
Miller answered quickly. In an 80-second stretch to follow, the Mavericks got a pair of and-ones from Dae Dae Heard and a steal and layup from Jordan Brown that highlighted a 10-0 run to establish a more comfortable lead. From there, Payne’s and Rohan’s presence inside became a problem and the Mavericks went into the fourth up 52-36.
While the Sankers continued to play well in the fourth, Miller’s bench rose to the occasion with John St. Germain picking up six points along the way. While Covenant was able to get to within 15 early, the Mavericks didn’t budge any further and finished with an 8-point advantage in the fourth and put a bow on the win.
“The biggest things for us is getting everyone back in shape after having 10 days off,” Manuel said. “That’s the toughest part about a boarding school, so many of the kids live so far away so you wind up trying to put the pieces back together in January and we’ll see if we can do that.”
Payne and Anderson tied for a team high 16 points. Rohan had 10 points while Heard and St. Germain each chipped in eight points.
For the Eagles, Jonas Sanker had a game high 25 points while Nic contributed 17. The duo combined for all but six of their team’s points.
Miller (13-1) travels to Middleburg while Covenant (1-8) hosts Eastern Mennonite with both games taking place on Thursday.