Miller posted a strong 19-9 season that finished with a district runner-up finish last season. Hannah Wilkerson enters her fourth year as head coach having to replace five of her top six scorers from last season’s team.
“I had such an excellent senior class (last year),” Wilkerson said. “All five brought something to the table that made our team successful last season.”
Senior Bethany Gulick is the lone returning player that saw action in a majority of the team’s games and averaged more than one point per game. She scored 9.2 points and led the team in rebounding with 6.6 per game over a 27-minute average.
“Bethany has continued to improve each season I have coached her. Her athleticism makes her successful,” Wilkserson said. “My favorite thing about Bethany is how hard she goes every practice, every game. Her goal is to never have the most points but to grab the most boards. She is very quick and strong and makes her hard to guard. She was second on team with steals last season and has the ability to defend the opponents best post player. I expect Bethany to continue to do what she is best at and work to be more of a versatile post player.”
Miller will need several new players to step up after graduating most of last year’s offense. One of those players could be junior Jessica Epps. She played in just 11 games last year, but has shown marked improvement this offseason.
“Jessica Epps has improved more than anyone,” Wilkerson said. “She stepped up in the second half season last year. She has a great, consistent shot and can defend. She continues to impress me every time I see her play because she does everything she is told and no hesitation. I expect her to step up and be more aggressive on both ends of the floor.”
Senior Saydie Barnes returns to the team after missing last season due to injury. Claudia Hadlock, the younger sister of last year’s leading scorer Lynna Hadlock, will take over the point guard spot. Kaylee Helton will be used as both a post and a guard. Payten Richarson is a fast and athletic player that offers Miller a lot of versatility. Ashten Kingsley, Alli Mitchell and Shaelyn Clark are three more players to watch on the varsity squad.
Miller will be more speed and guard focused with this year’s team.
“Our strengths will be we will be a lot more of a quicker and scrappy team. There will be different things we can do on both ends of the floor. We will have more ball handlers that will be able to handle pressure and will cut down our turnovers per game,” Wilkerson said.
Miller will also join a new conference this year featuring a mix of familiar SRVC foes and former Mid-Lakes teams.
“Our new conference will be very competitive. So every game it is important to come in focused and not get relaxed. Anything can happen,” Wilkerson said.
Wilkerson has high expectations for her team, as they look to keep the success rolling at Miller.
“I expect our players to be patient with me and Coach LaSalle, as well as themselves. I expect to gradually get better throughout season and playing our best basketball by the time districts begin. That being said, I have high expectations for this team. They have the ability to have a very successful season if they play smart and play hard. I have coached most of the team since they were in junior high so they know what I expect and nothing will be a shock once we start season. I am very excited about this season and eager to get started,” Wilkerson said.
Miller opens the season at home with Billings.