The common thread defining University’s boys basketball season has been the variety of ways the Titans can beat you. Jared Miller exemplified one of those ways perfectly Tuesday night in a 3a regional play-in against West Valley (Yakima).
Miller said he remembered missing a shot. If so, it was the only one. He scored eight baskets, five of them 3-pointers, and was perfect in four free-throw attempts to finish with 25 points during the Titans’ 66-47 victory over the visiting Rams.
The triumph sends U-Hi (18-4) to Richland this weekend for a game against Kennewick (19-4) with a berth to the State 3A tournament in Tacoma on the line.
“It was kind of something we were waiting for,” U-Hi coach Garrick Phillips said of Miller’s output. “He’s such a dang good shooter, but he’s been streaky.”
Miller’s high arcing shot was a thing of beauty as it dropped softly into the net. His first two 3-pointers came in the first 3 minutes of the game, staking the Titans to an 8-3 lead. He added two more baskets, putting U-Hi up by a basket at the quarter.
He hit another 3-pointer in the third quarter during a 14-2 run over a 2-minute span that opened up a 15-point lead. And he made two more and had back-to-back baskets for eight fourth-quarter points that put the game away.
“We obviously have Brett (Bailey) and Zech (Martin),” the modest 6-foot senior guard said of U-Hi’s season scoring leaders. “They were focusing on those two scorers. It left the 3-pointer open.”
Bailey led the Greater Spokane League in scoring. Martin averaged a little more than 12 points per game, but had scored 69 points in the Titans’ last three. Miller seldom cracked double figures, with his best games (19 and 16 points) coming in December.
But West Valley (13-10) had no answer for him.
“I thought we worked the ball around well and did a good job finding our shots,” Miller said.
There were moments the Titans lost control – they had nearly 20 turnovers and put themselves in foul trouble. After streaking to a 27-17 second-quarter lead with eight straight points, it melted to 33-30 before the defining third-quarter run.
That came after Rams do-it-all guard/forward Austin Strock took a seat with his fourth foul, not to return until two minutes into the fourth quarter. He scored 13 points and had double-digit rebounds.
“That took the air out of their sails,” Phillips said. “He’s aggressive and strong.”
One of U-Hi’s foul troubled was Martin, but he still finished with 15 points.
Overall, though, it was Miller’s night.
“We have a lot of weapons,” Phillips said. “You never know whose night it is.”
They’ll need them all against Kennewick, which scored an 89-84 win over Shadle Park.
“We’ll have to score 91,” said Phillips, who relishes the thought of an expected up-tempo game at 6p.m. Friday.
Kennewick 89, Shadle Park 84: Brett Boese scored 33 points, including five 3-pointers, and added 11 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to extend the Highlanders’ season in a loser-out game at Kennewick.
Kionte Brown scored 16 points, Skyler Kelly added 13 and Drew Before scored 11 for Shadle Park (13-10), which led by four at halftime and one at the end of three quarters.
Bryce Leavitt scored 29 points to pace the Lions.
Shadle Park 55, Hanford 40: The Highlanders (16-7) pulled away in the second half to beat the Falcons at Shadle Park and advance to the 3A regionals.
Aleisha Hathaway scored 15 points with nine rebounds and Kaycee Hert added 13 points with seven boards to lead Shadle Park, which plays University at 4 p.m. Saturday at Richland High in a loser-out game.
University 59, Eastmont 43: Kayleigh Valley scored a game-high 21 points and added five rebounds to help the Titans (15-7) beat the Wildcats at Eastmont High School in East Wenatchee and earn a berth in the 3A regionals.
Taylor Berdar added 10 points for University, which limited Eastmont to 28 percent shooting from the floor. The Titans shot 44.7 percent and hit all 12 of their free throws.