Girls Basketball: Millers bound together by baskets
GOODHUE – It didn’t take long for Mikayla Miller to figure out one of her goals in basketball.
As a kid, Mikayla would run into the Goodhue gym and look into the trophy case. Inside, she saw the 1,000-point plaque of her mother, Joy (Matthees) Miller. She became determined to make a place for herself in the trophy case.
“She’s like, ‘I’m going to be right next to you,’ and it just took off from there,” Joy said.
Mikayla has become one of the top basketball players in southeast Minnesota for fourth-ranked Goodhue as she closes in on 2,000 career points (1,983). Since her high-school playing career ended in 1989, Joy has seen her oldest daughter surpass her multiple times in the Wildcats’ record books.
“I’ve lost all of ‘em, except for maybe a rebounding record,” Joy said. “Otherwise, I’m done. She’s broke everything of mine.”
And on Jan. 21 at rival Zumbrota-Mazeppa, Mikayla snatched one of her mom’s last records: the single-game scoring record. In 1989, Joy scored 42 points against Plainview-Elgin-Millville.
Back in her playing day, Joy was a bruiser down in the post, a far cry from the high-speed dribble-drive game of Mikayla.
“I posted up under the basket and I was there to rebound and turn and shoot all night long,” Joy said. “I did not touch the ball to the ground or I would be running laps the next day. It was not a pretty sight if I dribbled the ball.”
Facing off with the Highway 58 rival Cougars in Zumbrota last week, Mikayla seemingly drove at will, but she didn’t really know how many points she was putting up.
“Something was different that night. I don’t know, I just felt in control,” Mikayla said. “My teammates got me the ball in the post.”
Joy chimed in, “You basically drove the whole night. Your outside shot was not falling all night.”
Mikayla added, “Something was really on that night, it felt really good.”
The scope of Mikayla’s night wasn’t fully realized until Joy and Mikayla saw the bench making a commotion.
“I was shooting my free throws and (Wildcats’ head coach Josh) Wieme and (assistant coach Chris) Irvin are giggling at this notebook and I’m thinking, ‘What is going on? Something’s up,” Mikayla said. “Then after I scored the free throw, Wieme called a timeout and said, ‘Everybody: congrats to Mikayla. You all had a part in this. Share the memory.’ That was really cool.”
In the stands, Joy had to decipher what the coaches were trying to tell her.
“I knew she was making a lot, but I had no idea that she was even close until the assistant coach was waving me down and pointed 4-2 with his fingers,” Joy said. “I didn’t catch on right away, then he put up 4-4 and I thought, ‘No way.’”
By the end of the night, Mikayla finished with 46 points on 19 of 29 shooting, breaking mom’s 25-year record.
“I told somebody that she was playing in a way that we have not seen her play before,” Wieme said about Mikayla’s record night. “She’s playing faster and harder, and we’ve seen her do that a lot. It was fun to just sit back and watch.”
And fun was the key word Wieme used often to describe Mikayla’ play. The best part about the record night for Wieme was knowing that even after coming onto the varsity as a freshman, Mikayla can still surprise the coaches with her ability.
“She could have been a three-year All-Conference player without spending a lot of time at it, but she spent a lot of time at it,” Wieme said. “That’s why she’s the best player in the conference and in the area and in Class A.
“It’s fun to always know that basically every game we go into, the best player is in purple. We always know that. When it gets to crunch time or a big moment, you know you have the best player on the floor on your team.”
At home after the game, Mikayla earned some bragging rights over her mom.
“I wasn’t sulking, but (the family) thought I was sulking,” Joy said with a laugh. “I’m glad she broke it. It has been a long time. … I’m very proud of her and all her accomplishments. She has an awesome team and couldn’t do it without them.”
Already the school’s all-time leading scorer, the 46-point night provided a full-circle moment for the Goodhue senior. Mikayla’s spot in school history was already set, but last week’s scoring record cemented her place in the trophy case.
“I remember when I was in seventh or eighth grade, I had Wieme as a teacher and he had us write down 100 things you want to do,” Mikayla said. “Beating my mom’s record was one of those. It feels good just to reach that accomplishment.”