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Mitchell senior Miller earns Daily Republic player of year award

Mitchell's Macy Miller poses for a portrait Wednesday at the Corn Palace in Mitchell. (Sean Ryan/Republic)1 / 2
Mitchell's Macy Miller poses for a portrait Wednesday at the Corn Palace in Mitchell. (Sean Ryan/Republic)2 / 2

Sitting in an empty Corn Palace with no opponent, fans or game to be played, Mitchell’s Macy Miller reflected on quite possibly the greatest season in South Dakota girls high school basketball history.

The senior, wearing her No. 23 Kernel jersey one more time prior to having her picture taken, talked about the emotions of being back on the court where she created countless memories for herself, teammates and Mitchell fans with a remarkable high school career.

“Anywhere I go, like the grocery store, people will come up to me and talk about the season I’ve had,” Miller said, adding that a few have joked about asking for an autograph, but she has yet to sign her first one.

“Little kids or people I don’t know say that I am their role model. That’s really special.”

Miller, who graduates from Mitchell High School in May, is signed to play for the South Dakota State University women’s basketball team in the fall. She left a lasting impression with her career accomplishments and the gaudy numbers she put up in 2013-14, leading the Kernels to a Class AA runner-up finish for the second straight season.

“I’m really excited to be a Jackrabbit, but it’s sad,” Miller said looking out at her home court. “I’m done being a Mitchell Kernel and I’m done playing at the Corn Palace. It is hard to swallow.”

For her excellence on the court this season, Miller has been named The Daily Republic girls basketball player of the year. The award is voted on by the newspaper’s sports staff, and all area girls basketball players are considered. Players are given five points for a first-place vote, four for second, three for third, two for fourth and one for fifth.

Six players received points in the poll, with Miller receiving all three first-place votes or 15 points.

Other players receiving votes include Sanborn Central/Woonsocket’s Shelby Selland (11), Mitchell’s Taylor Volesky (8), Hanson’ Kynedi Cheeseman (7), Winner’s Kelsey Bertram (3) and Avon’s Chesney Nagel (1).

Mitchell coach Wes Morgan did not hesitate when asked if Miller is the best girls player he has seen come through South Dakota in his 20 years of coaching.

“She is the best I’ve seen and the scary thing is she has the ability to get even better at the college level,” Morgan said.

The award is the second straight for Miller, who is the fourth player to win the honor at least twice, following Mitchell’s Kerri Young in 2011 and 2012, Wessington Springs’ Lacey Johnson in 1999 and 2000 and Wagner’s Mandy Koupal, who won three times from 1996 to 1998.

Miller, a senior guard, averaged 30.7 points, eight rebounds, 3.7 assists five steals and 1.4 blocks per game for the Kernels, who finished 23-2 and 16-0 in the Eastern South Dakota Conference.

In total, Miller broke eight Kernel girls basketball records during her final season. She now holds the marks for points in a game (49), season (768) and career (1,921), as well as steals in a season (197) and career (294). She also has the school’s standard for field goals (269) and free throws made (213) in a season.

“I’m starting to grasp things and I’m honored to have broken those records,” Miller said.

She made 92.2 percent or 213-of-231 of her free-throw attempts, breaking the Mitchell school record. When asked about her consistency from the free-throw line she would always reply with a smile and a state that they are free points and she should make them all.

Miller’s excellence was not limited to the confines of Mitchell High School history. She toppled the Class AA record for scoring a game with 49 points against state tournament qualifier Spearfish on Feb. 8. At the Class AA state tournament, Miller scored 103 points in three games, easily surpassing the previous best of 81 points. With her final basket as a Kernel, Miller scored her 768th point of the season, giving her the South

Dakota record for scoring in a season for all three classes. She moved past Mitchell Christian’s Jill (Young) Sargent, who scored 766 points as a junior for the Golden Eagles in 2006.

“I had no idea I was even close to that,” Miller said of surpassing Sargent’s single-season scoring mark.

After breaking the record Miller said Sargent is player she has looked up to and wants to emulate in her career at SDSU and beyond.

With great accomplishments on the court, Miller has become more comfortable with the attention off the court from people around the community. She said it is normal now for complete strangers to come up to her and congratulate her on what she has accomplished.

“Looking back at it, it’s hard to picture all of the things that I’ve accomplished,” Miller said sitting at the scorer’s table Wednesday at the Corn Palace.

Despite all she has done on the court, Miller thinks of the team first. When asked about a great performance, she quickly turns the credit to her teammates and coaches. When she scored 17 points in the fourth quarter of a state tournament game to push her team to victory, she simply acknowledged the win and little about herself.

“People don’t really like to hear you talk about yourself,” Miller said.

Morgan joked that there has never been an “I” in Miller. He calls her simply a ballplayer who will do what it takes to win.

Miller’s future with the Jackrabbits has been coming for a long time, as she committed to her home state school nearly three years ago after a breakout sophomore season. She is a self-professed homebody and despite the possibility of a chance to play at a larger school out of state, she has never wavered from her dedication to the SDSU program.

“I’m a home person and I wanted to stay around South Dakota because I want to play in front of my family, and I love the big fan base here,” Miller said.

Here is a look at the other five player who received votes in the poll:

• Sanborn Central/Woonsocket’s Shelby Selland helped lead the Blackhawks to a second-place finish at the Class B state tournament last month. The 6-foot-2 senior averaged 18.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. She was named to the Class B all-state first team and is signed to play for Augustana College in the fall. She received 11 points in the voting.

• Mitchell’s Taylor Volesky emerged as a legitimate scoring threat from the inside and outside for the Kernels in 2013-14. The 6-foot junior forward averaged 15.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.9 steals and one block per game for Mitchell. She was an all ESD first team selection. She received eight points in the voting.

• Hanson’s Kynedi Cheeseman helped Hanson to a fourth-place finish in Class B, while averaging 17.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and three assists per game. The 5-foot-9 sophomore was named to the Class B all-state first team. She received seven points in the voting.

• Winner’s Kelsey Bertram helped lead an experienced Warrior team to a runner-up finish at the Class A tournament last month. The 5-foot-10 guard averaged 15.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. She was named to the Class A all-state first team. The junior received three points in the voting.

• Avon’s Chesney Nagel was named to the Class B all-state first team, leading the Pirates to a 17-5 record. She averaged 17.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game for Avon and has signed to play for Dakota Wesleyan University in the fall. Nagel received one point in the voting.

Past winners

1994-Erin Olson, Mitchell

1995-NaTascha Dawson, Howard

1996-Mandy Koupal, Wagner

1997-Mandy Koupal, Wagner

1998-Mandy Koupal, Wagner

1999-Lacey Johnson, Wessington Springs

2000-Lacey Johnson, Wessington Springs

2001-Vanessa Yanes, Wagner

(2002 Season Switch)

2003-Jenna Hoffman, Mitchell

2004-Jeana Hoffman, Mitchell

2005-Allison Johnson, Mount Vernon

2006-Jill Young, Mitchell Christian

2007-Megan Doyle, Hanson

2008-Terri VerSteeg, Platte-Geddes

2009-Rhianna Gullickson, Hanson

2010-Hillary Paulson, Freeman

2011-Kerri Young, Mitchell

2012-Kerri Young, Mitchell

2013-Macy Miller, Mitchell

2014-Macy Miller, Mitchell