Otters’ Mike Millard makes senior standPublished 10:14am Tuesday, March 12, 2013
The Alexandria Cardinals knew coming into Monday’s Section 8AAA semi-final that shutting down Otter all-time leading scorer Mike Millard would be key if they wanted to advance to the championship game next Thursday. With how often Cardinal Logan Doyle, a six-foot eight-inch center and one of the state’s top college prospects, covered or helped out on Millard defensively, that plan was easy to see.
But Millard, ever the competitor, not only fought his way through Doyle’s coverage on his way to a team leading 28 points, but took Alexandria’s biggest threat out of consideration, drawing enough contact to have the big man in foul trouble for most of the game and, with two minutes left on the clock, sitting on the bench after fouling out.
“I knew he was going to try and block everything,” said Millard “We just kept going at him, got him in foul trouble and knew that was how we were going to win.”
Of course, Doyle had his way on several plays, swatting the ball away from Millard and other Otter players. But with only two points off the free throw line in the first half and seven more in the second, Doyle’s presence seemed nonexistent. Milliard’s aggressive play, which had Doyle frustrated from the first possession, was a major factor in that containment.
“That’s a senior realizing it’s win or go home right now,” said Otter head coach Dave Rund of Millard’s performance. “He wasn’t going to be denied a shot at the section title game.”
In the final minutes of the game, Millard erased any chance of a Cardinal comeback with a dunk off an Otter break away. It was the first dunk of Millard’s career and something he’s been asked to do by teammates and fans.
“People give me so much grief about never dunking,” Millard said. “I figured it’s my senior year and I had to prove a point.”
Coach Rund might not have been in the company of those people prior to the game, but saw the feat as something memorable in a hard fought battle between two rivals.
“Interesting time to pull it out,” laughed Rund after the game. “But you could kind of see the look in his eye when he caught it that something might be happening. That was just an exclamation point for the game.”