Aiden Miller picked the perfect time to have his best game of the season.
The oft-injured Centertown point guard dominated the 7-8 grade elementary championship game, leading the Warriors to a 31-17 victory over the Eastside Bulldogs. Miller scored a game-high eight points in the title game, earning MVP honors in the process.
“I am really proud of my boys. They’re great young men who worked hard and played the right way,” said Centertown coach Rex Crabtree. “They have been great teammates and they are all good friends. You see it in how well they pass the ball - they’re all unselfish.”
Miller dealt with a pinky injury for most of the season, but was able to get back on the court late in the regular season. Finding his fit in an offense which doesn’t have a go-to guy, Miller worked to keep the machine running following his return.
In the championship, he decided to assert his will.
Miller opened by the scoring six points in the first quarter, all layups as he was able to penetrate through the Eastside defense. His aggression helped the Warriors open a 10-2 lead, one they would carry throughout the game.
The Bulldogs, who shocked top seed Manchester Westwood in the semifinals on an overtime buzzer beater by Dylan Vandeveer, closed the gap in the second quarter. By the time Hunter Knight sank his second 3-pointer with 35 seconds to play in the half, the Bulldogs had closed the gap to 16-14.
The Cinderella story didn’t extend into the second half though.
The Warriors clamped down defensively, swarming Jaythan Boyd in the paint, chasing Kade Hillis at every turn and covering up any outside looks for Knight. Without the trio being able to shake loose, Eastside scored just three points after the break and failed to hit a field goal in the fourth quarter.
By then, Centertown had found its footing.
Tyler ‘T-Bone’ Adams started the second half by draining a deep 3-pointer. He added a driving layup later in the quarter.
Logan Cantrell, who had shown his outside touch in the second quarter with a pair of jumpers, went back to work on the block in the second half, getting a layup over Boyd, Eastside’s bouncy paint eraser.
Thomas Burks took over the scoring load for Centertown in the fourth with a pair of buckets before Miller closed his MVP campaign with one final layup.
Adams finished with seven points in the championship for Centertown, followed by Burks and Cantrell with six points apiece. Ethan Roach and Sam Rivers scored two points apiece for the Warriors.
Knight led Eastside with six points. Rounding out the scoring were Boyd with five, Hillis with four and Vandeveer with two.
Following the game, Adams, Burks and Roach were all named to the all-tournament team from Centertown. Boyd and Hillis earned the honors from Eastside. Joining them on the list were Colby Medley and Tucker Wanamaker (Morrison), Caiden Warren and Jayden Carter (Westwood), Garrison Randolph (Dibrell) and Corban Felton (Irving College).