COLUMBIA — Last year, Emily Miller faced the difficult situation of playing her first varsity basketball game as a freshman.
Some players have a tendency to overthink before important games, but Miller, now a sophomore forward for the Hickman High girls basketball team, did just the opposite.
“I was incredibly nervous,” Miller said. “To be honest I didn't think a whole lot. I just went out and played.”
Miller put together an impressive first season. She led the team in scoring and was the only Kewpies player selected for the all-district team. Miller credits her teammates quickly and often when discussing the accomplishment.
“My teammates were incredibly helpful all of last year,” Miller said. “I was really able to gain confidence in practice, which helped in the games.”
This season, Miller is averaging 19.5 points per game which leads the Kewpies (4-0) in scoring. The 5-foot-9 forward can score in a variety of different ways. She has the ball skills to handle the ball on the perimeter, but she also possesses the height and quickness to score inside. Miller describes her abilities in a simpler way.
“I just try to put the ball in the net,” Miller said with a smile. “To me it doesn’t matter if it is on the perimeter or in the lane.”
Miller’s scoring abilities at times appear effortless, but the transition from junior high school basketball to varsity was far from easy. Miller just laughs about the comparison.
“It is a whole lot more competitive and fast,” Miller said. “There are things in junior high that you can get away with. That’s definitely not the case in varsity.”
When asked how she was able to make a smooth transition, Miller again credits her teammates and her coach, Tonya Mirts.
“Coach Mirts did pretty much everything,” Miller said with a laugh. “Everything was just so different and so much faster. She really helped me out last year.”
Miller has solidified herself as a solid scoring option, but she isn’t satisfied with only that role. Miller is working on improving her all-around game. Teammate and fellow sophomore forward Ellie Johnson said she has noticed.
“Coach Mirts has been stressing rebounding, and Emily is doing really well,” Johnson said. “She has good height, but she is also really quick.”
With all of her playing experience as a freshman, Miller has already gotten a lot of the introductory things out of the way.
“Playing that much as a freshman definitely helps me out this year and after,” Miller said. “I don’t have to learn a lot of things that most sophomores have to learn.”
The Kewpies will play Blue Springs at 5:15 p.m. Saturday at Blue Springs High School in the championship game of the Blue Springs South/Blue Springs Tournament.