ELBING, Kan.—Championship games are not supposed to be easy. They pit the two best teams against each other in a high pressure, high stress cauldron that can test the sanity of the strongest of minds. But for Wichita Trinity’s Kristin Miller, a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer on an inbound play with 11 seconds left to give the Knights a 38-37 win over Berean was easy.
At least she made it look easy.
“I was honestly really nervous,” said Miller. “We set the play up and it just happened to work.”
The bank shot 3 in the waning seconds of a game in which Trinity trailed by 2, capped off a game-high 17-point night for Miller.
Although Miller admitted to being nervous about the play, there was no doubt in head coach Brett Gunderson’s mind about whom he was drawing up the play for during the timeout.
“I don’t think anybody else was going to touch the ball but Kristin,” said Gunderson. “Her work ethic gives us that confidence. She is not only a great player, but every day she comes in and gives it everything she has.”
Berean started the game on a roll, but couldn’t pull away from the Knights. In the second quarter, Miller exploded for Trinity, scoring 8 points including a couple of 3-pointers to give the Knights a 1-point lead late in the half at 19-18. But there was some foreshadowing with an ill-advised foul a mile away from the basket with less than 2 seconds left in the half put Berean on the line for two free throws to give the Warriors a 20-19 lead at the break.
In the third quarter, Miller and the Knights continued to grind away, but this time it was Trinity that failed to pull away. Going into the final quarter, the Knights clung to a 31-30 lead.
Berean worked a 2-point lead late in the fourth and was looking to push it to two possessions, but couldn’t get a basket. Trinity took the ball across the time line and called a timeout to set up the game winning play.
“We knew the shot was really important,” said Miller. “We just talked about settling down and not freaking out so much, and make sure we rub shoulders on the screen.”
Miller took the inbound pass, turned and fired without hesitation, using the glass to carom the ball into the hoop with 11 seconds remaining.
Berean had time for a last shot, and just like at the end of the first half, Berean was fouled down by 1 point. Sarah Hoover was hacked taking a shot and went to the line for two shots with 4 seconds left.
Hoover missed the first, and had the second spin out of the hoop for Trinity to rebound and seal the win.
“Basically (our) effort is always there,” said Gunderson. “And you have to give it to Berean. Their effort was there too. I mean, what an incredible girls basketball game.”