Prep Basketball: Salisbury's Isis Miller to WSSU
By Mike London
SALISBURY — Salisbury girls basketball coach Chris McNeil had a feisty group on and off the court this season.
“The toughest competition of all was to see who could get the highest GPA,” McNeil said. “They were all over 3.0s. They pushed each other hard in the classroom.”
Not only did the Hornets go 27-1 and win their third straight 2A state championship, they will have six seniors moving on to play college basketball.
The latest to sign is 5-foot-10 post player Isis Miller. She’s headed to Division II CIAA school Winston-Salem State.
The always upbeat Miller was a big part of that daily quiz bowl on the basketball team.
“There was a lot of emphasis on schoolwork on the team and also from my mom,” Miller said. “She always told me there were no C’s allowed in her house. I’ve made all A’s and B’s in high school except one. I had one ‘C’ in pre-calculus.”
There is no sportswriter alive who would not be completely lost after 15 minutes of calculus, pre or otherwise, so we’ll let that one ‘C’ slide.
Miller overcame quite a bit as a senior. She had a severe case of shin splints that threatened to sideline her the entire season.
“We all agreed the priority was going to be to have her healthy for the championship run,” McNeil said. “So she sat down until she could get her full health back.”
Miller missed nine games, but she didn’t stop contributing to the program.
“Most kids that get injured stay away, but she was at practice just about every day unless she was getting physical therapy,” McNeil said. “She was a leader even when she couldn’t play, and it was like having another coach at the games. She was another set of eyes.”
Miller returned on Jan. 5 and had four rebounds and four points as the Hornets throttled West Rowan 72-44.
Having another healthy, experienced post player available helped the Hornets in a lot of ways. It meant Olivia Rankin and Brielle Blaire could be more aggressive. They didn’t have to worry about foul trouble nearly as much.
The Hornets also got more versatile. Blaire, who has a lot of range, could play on the wing, with Miller helping out Rankin in the post.
“I thought Isis was big for us offensively, defensively and as far as rebounding,” McNeil said. “She brought 110 percent to practice and to games. She was part of a total team effort.”
Probably the only thing that could’ve derailed the Hornets would have been chemistry issues, and they didn’t have any.
Miller helped with that. Blaire, a tall and talented freshman, was playing a lot more minutes than Miller, but Miller didn’t just accept it, she embraced it. She could see that the addition of Blaire made a phenomenal team even better.
“I thought Isis really took Brielle under her wing,” McNeil said. “It’s a blessing to have girls like that.”
After her return to the court, Miller played her role perfectly. Four to six points every night, solid defense, some tough rebounds and zero complaints.
She was a cog in a devastating team that won by an average of 32 points (67-35) every night. Even in the state title game against East Bladen, the powerful Hornets rolled by exactly 32.
“I go way back with most of the girls, almost 10 years with the Holmes twins (Ashia and Ayanna),” Miller said. “It was like an honor to be on a team like this. We got along, we set records and we won championships.”
Miller scored in all three of the state championship games she played in, but she’s more excited about three championship rings.
She thought for most of this season that she might get a scholarship for volleyball — she was all-county for the Hornets — but it turned out to be basketball, after all.
She’s as excited about Winston-Salem State’s nursing program as the basketball program. The Rams were 17-11 last season. That’s a lot of losing by Salisbury standards, but the Rams were pretty good.
As far as academics, she knows it won’t be easy making A’s and B’s while dealing with the time demands of college basketball, but she’s got her game face on already.
“With Isis having such a demanding major, it’s going to be a challenge for her,” McNeil said. “But she’s never been one to back down.”