By Rob Kiser
Piqua Daily Call
BRADFORD — If they were playing first one to 30 points, they would still be playing.
But, you really wouldn’t expect anything different when Bruce Vanover’s Miami East team and Chris Besecker’s Bradford squad get together on the basketball floor.
In the end, East brought back the “Chiv” play and freshman Megan McDowell hit the game-winning shot with five seconds to go in a 28-26 Viking victory.
East improved to 5-5 overall and 3-2 in the CCC with the win, while Bradford dropped to 5-2 overall and 3-2 in the CCC.
“Watching Bradford on film, we knew that was the kind of game it was going to be,” Vanover said. “We knew we were going to have to play great defense, with Austy Miller, the Mead girl (Cassie Mead) can hit shots and both Canans can hit shots.”
Besecker also knew it would be a battle.
“Miami East just plays great half-court defense,” Besecker said about the 1-2-2 zone the Vikings employed. “When you catch the ball, they are all over you.”
After a back-and-forth second half, East found themselves with the ball under their own basket with eight seconds to go and the game tied 26-26.
“Kevin Evans is in charge of our offense this season,” Vanover said. “Chiv is a play we have run the last three or four years. Gary (JV coach Gary Thompson) still runs it. Gary said something about we might want to try running that play as the game went on.
“That (the final play) was the perfect time for it. And if you had just seen us this year, you wouldn’t have seen that play.”
But, Besecker wasn’t fooled.
“Coach Besecker has been coaching long enough, he knew what we were thinking. He was yelling for them to watch the lob before we inbounded it.”
But, Camryn Miller lobbed the ball to 5-foot-10 freshman Megan McDowell and she banked it in with five seconds to go.
“I just knew I had to make the shot,” McDowell said. “I wanted to do it for the team. We have a lot of girls that have been working very hard.”
And Miller had a quick reaction to the shot going in.
“Oh heck yes,” Miller said about her reaction. “That shot was huge for Megan (McDowell). I am proud of her. She has worked so hard and come so far in a short time.”
Bradford called timeout with 4.4 seconds to go. But, the Railroaders last second shot was off the mark.
“Bradford played great defense (on the inbounds play),” Vanover said. “It still took a perfect pass from Camryn (Miller) and a great shot from Megan (McDowell).”
Defenses had dominated from the start of the game.
But, eight points by Rori Hunley had sparked East to a 13-5 lead with less than a minute remaining in the first half.
That’s when Austy Miller did what she does, scoring five points in transition to get the Railroaders to within 13-10 at the break.
“We didn’t play very smart there and Austy (Miller) made us pay,” Vanover said. “When she gets up a head of steam, she is not stopping until she gets to the basket.”
Besecker agreed it was a turning point.
“Really, I thought that was probably the biggest point in the first half,” he said. “Up to that point, we had two field goals. They went to a half-court trap and Austy (Miller) made two big plays.”
Miller’s outstanding play continued in the second half as she scored 13 more points and led all scorers with 18 points.
With her scoring all eight Bradford points in the third quarter, the Railroaders took an 18-16 lead to the fourth quarter.
“We were kind of getting on the girls,” Vanover said. “Camryn (Miller) came over and said, ‘give us some positives coach.’ Right after that we loosened up a little.”
Camryn Miller hit two threes in the fourth quarter, the second with 2:45 to go to give East a 24-20 lead.
“I told Camryn (Miller) she was going to need to step up and hit some shots,” Vanover said. If it is going to be in the fourth quarter, I will take that.”
Austy Miller answered at the other end to get Bradford back within 24-23, but a basket by Rori Hunley gave East a 26-23 lead with 2:10 to go.
After a Bradford turnover and Bradford only having four team fouls, Vanover pulled it out to make Bradford foul. But, in the process, East committed two turnovers — the second on charging foul with 30.6 seconds to go.
Mead then drilled a three with 20 seconds to go to tie it at 26 and set up McDowell’s game-winning shot.
“We had two turnovers there,” Vanover said. “They hit a big shot. But, I told the girls you are going to face adversity in this game. It is how you respond to it.”
Besecker said his team could look back at almost every possession.
“That is what I told them, every possession counts,” he said. “A missed box-out, a turnover. We did miss some shots, but that is going to happen when you play against defense like that.”
Rori Hunley led East with 10 points and Camryn Miller scored eight.
Vanover also noted the play of Cadence Gross.
“She (Cadence Gross) continues to do a great job on the boards,” Vanover said. “I know we list her at 5-8, but she is probably more like 5-6 and she had 11 rebounds tonight. I was really proud of our defense tonight. Our problem has been scoring, but the offense will come.”
And the Vikings had just enough of it Thursday night in a defensive battle.
Miami East (28)
Paxton Hunley 1-0-2, Rori Hunley 4-0-10, Camryn Miller 3-0-8, Kayly Fetters 0-0-0, Cadence Gross 2-1-5, Megan McDowell 1-1-3, Kyleigh Kirby 0-0-0, Lauren Wright 0-0-0. Totals: 11-2-28.
Austy Miller 5-5-18, Emma Canan 0-0-0, Rylie Canan 0-0-0, Cassie Mead 2-0-5, Remi Harleman 1-0-2, Abby Gade 0-0-0, Abby Fike 0-1-1. Totals: 8-6-26.
3-point field goals — Miami East: Rori Hunley (2), Camryn Miller (2). Bradford: Austy Miller (3), Mead.
Score By Quarters
Miami East 8 13 16 28
Bradford 2 10 18 26
Records: Miami East 5-5 (3-2), Bradford 5-2 (3-2).
Contact Piqua Daily Call Sports Editor Rob Kiser at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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