The return of Brett Miller helped the Paris boys basketball team to a 68-39 win at Marion County on Tuesday night.
The boys basketball teams at Marion County and Paris were headed in opposite directions Tuesday night.
For much of this season, Paris head coach Wade Billington has lamented his team’s youth and injuries, which have impacted consistency.
But a key to the Paris attack is back in action.
Brett Miller discovered before the season he needed surgery for ACL damage to his knee. During weeks of rehabilitation, Miller was on the bench supporting his team. Tuesday night, in his second game back, Miller’s driving baseline layups and 15 total points helped lead the Coyotes to a 68-39 road win.
Coupled with Konner Heitmeyer’s 21 points, including five baskets from 3-point range, the Coyotes played their most complete game of the year.
Marion County, meanwhile, played its fifth game in seven days.
That stretch included a remarkable win with only two players remaining on the court against Atlanta, and a furious comeback attempt on Thursday night in a 54-51 road loss to Madison.
By the second half Tuesday, the short-handed Mustangs, who only dressed out six players, were fatigued.
“I don’t want to make excuses, but it has been a tough stretch,” said Marion County head coach Justin Ellison.
The Mustangs will not play again until next week.
Both squads were matching shots in the first quarter. Paris fans got a glimpse of what to expect in the game with about five minutes left in the first quarter when Miller fired an accurate pass from near the baseline out to Heitmeyer, who drained a three.
But Marion County kept pace, even taking a 12-11 lead on a shot by Sheldon Whetstone to bring the Mustangs senior night crowd to its feet.
Just as quickly, Paris again pulled ahead with a layup by Miller.
Marion County’s Alex Huffman drilled a 3-pointer to knot the game at 15, but Paris held a 20-16 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Mustangs would get no closer.
The Coyotes took control in the second quarter, taking a 36-24 lead into halftime.
Paris went on a tear in the third, at one point posting a run of 10 unanswered points — interrupted by a 3-pointer for the Mustangs only scoring of the quarter — to storm out to a 54-27 lead entering the final period.
Billington mentioned that after a rocky first quarter, the Panthers settled down thanks in no small part to having a mostly healthy team.
“It was great to get players back, and we played much better,” Billington said. “We have made a lot of progress. It was good having Brett back…and Konner can shoot the ball well from outside when he gets open.”
Miller said his knee felt great and withstood the game with no issues.
“It feels great to be back. The knee is doing well. My doctor says go at it 100 percent,” Miller said, adding that after the long layoff, he is working to get back into peak game shape.
Heitmeyer, a sophomore, said his confidence was high during his night of 3-pointers.
“I felt comfortable out there. My teammates were giving me the ball, and I got a bunch of good looks,” he said.
Carson Bock and Ty Bowdish paced Marion County with 12 points a piece.