No controversy this time. A pair of Miller seniors accounted for 68 points as the Lady Cardinals downed Osceola in sectional play at Willard on Saturday night to earn a berth in the Class 2 Show-Me Showdown at Columbia. Hannah Wilkerson poured in 42 points and Nicole Adams erupted for 26 to punch Miller's ticket to the final four convention.
|A long line of fans stood patiently in the cold rain, some of them there since 4 p.m, waiting for the doors to open at Willard High School. While many were there for the late game between the Clever boys and Adrian, the vast majority came to see the Class 2 girls sectional contest between Miller and Osceola. When the doors opened at 5 p.m., the throng poured in and filled the cavernous arena to standing room only capacity in minutes.|
|Miller's Kaitlin Johnson christened the scoreboard with a layup off the opening tip, and the Lady Cardinals held a brief 2-0 lead. Wilkerson rushed and missed her first two shots of the night as Osceola forged a 12-8 lead with 4:03 on the clock.|
Wilkerson scored 9 of her 13 first quarter points in the closing 2:46 of the period, but Osceola's Jordan Garrison found Alexis Self open for a buzzer-beating layup to give the Lady Indians a 21-17 lead at the first break.
|Garrison matched Wilkerson with 13 points in the opening act, but the more ominous total for Osceola was the team's foul count. Wilkerson's patented inside acrobatics led to Osceola committing five fouls in the period, and Miller looked forward to a second quarter of bonus opportunities.|
|Osceola drew three whistles in the opening 1:52 of the second quarter, and Miller tied at 21-21. Wilkerson's free throw at 4:33 was her 17th point of the night, and then Jessica Cook tied the game for Miller at 27-27 with her pair of free throws.|
|The game was tied at 29-29 when Wilkerson gave Miller its first lead since 15-14 with a single free throw and then scored twice from the field in the final 1:57 to give the Lady Cards a 34-32 halftime lead.|
|Wilkerson scored the first bucket of the third period to give Miller a 36-32 advantage. Osceola bounced back to tie at 36-36, and then the Lady Indians moved in front. Imani Hairston's layup gave Osceola a 40-37 lead at 5:36.|
|Three lead changes and a tie later, Adams drove the lane and gave Miller a 49-46 lead. Then Wilkerson raced to a fast-break score and converted the three-point chance to give the Lady Cardinals the game's largest lead at 52-46.|
|Osceola responded with an 11-5 run to finish the period, and Alexis Self followed Garrison's miss at the buzzer to earn the 57-57 tie at the final break. But again, foul trouble hung over Osceola like the dark cloud over Joe Btfsplk in the Lil Abner comics. Mandy Kubilus committed her fourth infraction in the first minute of the fourth period to set the tone for the finale.|
|Wilkerson's score and one with 5:58 to play capped a 10-2 Miller run to open the quarter. Self scored on Osceola's next possession to cut the lead to 67-61, but the Lady Indians would get no closer.|
Even though Miller would only convert seven of 12 from the line in the period, Osceola withered under the Lady Cardinals' scoring spree from the field. Wilkerson and Company hung 30 on Osceola in the fourth quarter, and Miller pulled away to the double-digit victory.
|Wilkerson entered the night with exactly 3,600 career points and emerged as the game's high scorer with 42. Garrison tallied 33 in her final high school appearance for Osceola. Adams proved to be the intangible with her 26 points for the Lady Cardinals.|
|Miller improves to 27-4 on the season and will play undefeated Harrisburg (29-0) in a Class 2 semifinal at 8:20 p.m. on Thursday, March 18 in Mizzou Arena at Columbia.|
Miller scorers: Hannah Wilkerson 42; Nicole Adams 26; Kaitlin Johnson 11; Betsy Epps 5; Jessica Cook 2; and Brooke Hill 1.
Osceola scorers: Jordan Garrison 33; Imani Hairston 14; Alexis Self 13; Mandy Kubilus 6; Paige Hadsall 4; Anna Carney 4; and Shelby Townsend 2.