COLUMBIA — When members of the Hickman girls basketball team see that Emily Miller is open, they pass the ball to their quiet sharpshooter.
"Emily is like uberquiet, but then she's like a silent assassin or something," freshman Mikayla Logan said. "You don't see she's there and then the next thing you know — bang, she drops 22 (points) on you."
Hickman (5-0) at Blue Springs (6-0)
WHEN: 5:15 p.m Saturday
WHERE: Blue Springs High School
Miller laughed about Logan's comment and said that's the first time she's heard anyone say that about her. But she agreed with Logan's initial assessment.
"I am kinda quiet," Miller said.
A 5-foot-9-inch forward, Miller has one role: To shoot.
The Kewpies lost 1,000-point scorer Aqua Corpening to graduation and their top returning scorer, junior guard Jade Holly, to a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury in late September. So freshmen like Miller have had to fill in.
Coach Tonya Mirts knew Miller had the potential to be the "scorer" on the team, but she wasn't sure if the freshman was ready to take on that role right away.
Miller has been the Kewpies' leading scorer through five games this year and takes an 18.8 points per game average into Saturday's contest at Blue Springs. In last week's overtime win over Moberly at the Norm Stewart Classic, Miller scored a season-high 28 points.
"Well, I didn't know I was scoring that many points," Miller said of her performance. "I was trying to do my job."
Miller's calm, quiet demeanor fits with her role on the team, Mirts said.
"You want your shooters to be like 'OK, just get me the ball,'" Mirts said.
When senior Paige Nelson saw Miller's first practice with the team, she said she thought one thing: "That girl can shoot."
Miller baffles teammates with some of the shots she's able to make. Once in practice, she stepped behind the three-point line at the baseline and released a shot from behind the basket.
Nelson and senior Kim Lake turned to each other and said the same thing before Miller released the ball.
"We're like 'Oh, that won't go in,'" Nelson said. But it did.
Hickman freshman Katie Storm isn't surprised anymore when Miller scores from a tough angle or makes a circus-like shot. Storm and Miller have played together for the Columbia Suns, an AAU team, since they were in fourth grade.
During a Suns game last season, Miller released "a crazy backwards hook shot," Storm said. This wasn't the kind of hook shot from the likes of Los Angeles Lakers' Hall of Fame center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, either. Miller drove to the basket and, without stopping, chucked up a backwards hook shot without looking from inside the key. Miller shrugged her shoulders and looked surprised that the ball went in, Storm said.
During a timeout, Miller's teammates joked with her about making such a crazy shot. When they asked her how the ball went in, Storm said Miller didn't really have an answer for them.
"She said, 'I don't know, it just did.'"