Girls Basketball: Ashton Millender propels Marian to victory
Updated: December 29, 2011 11:14AM
Marian Catholic is growing up in a hurry.
Sophomore Ashton Millender scored 18 points and junior Megan Walsh added 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists to lead No. 22 Marian Catholic to a 63-41 victory Wednesday over St. Joseph at the Montini Christmas Tournament.
Millender’s three-pointer 42 seconds into the game gave the Spartans (9-5) a lead they would never relinquish. By the time she hit her second three 3:09 into the second quarter, the lead had swelled to 29-14.
“I’m just trying to play hard ,” Millender said. “The first couple of games we had to adjust to each other, know each other’s roles. Playing together in the summer helped. Tonight, when I hit my first couple of shots, that boosted my confidence.”
Millender has been Marian Catholic’s most consistent perimeter threat, said coach Anne Byrne.
“It’s good to see her wanting the ball,” Byrne said. “Her confidence is building and she’s starting to get into more of a comfort zone. She’s looking to shoot more and looking to be more aggressive on the offensive end.
“Sometimes when kids are young and talented and you bring them up, they don’t want to step on anyone’s toes,” the coach added. “It’s good to see her build some confidence in herself, have some fun out there and be a consistent contributor to the team.”
While Millender was hitting her shots from the perimeter, the 6-foot-1 Walsh was taking advantage of her strength inside and dominated the paint against the undersized St. Joseph defenders
“Megan is a kid who has accepted her role,” Byrne said. “She knows she’s got to step up. She knows she’s got big shoes to fill and has accepted that willingly. She’s moving a lot better. Her foot speed is improving.
“She’s being tougher, being more physical,” the coach added. “Everything we’ve asked her to do, she’s doing.”
Walsh scored eight of her 12 points in the first half to help stake the Spartans to a 42-20 advantage.
“Simone (Law) was our big inside person last year, and since she’s gone we didn’t really have that so I knew I had to do that from the beginning,” Walsh said. “In the summer when we’d lift and stuff, I knew I had to get stronger and tougher because I’d be going against the stronger girls.”
Donna Koerber led No. 25 St. Joseph (11-3) with 16 points, Briya Wilborn added nine and Arriel Anderson had seven points. A woeful 9 of 19 performance from the free-throw line in the first half and the early exit of Wilborn due to foul trouble compounded St. Joseph’s problems.
Wilborn picked up her second foul 2:52 into the game and played a little more than four minutes of the first half.
“With Briya out in the first three minutes, you could see it deflate all the players,” St. Joseph coach Jim Maley said. “We shouldn’t let it do that, but it’s understandable in a way that that happened. It may have looked like we didn’t come to play, but I think we were a little deflated at that point.”