Miller scores No. 1,000, lifts Hawks to win over rival Panthers

Published 11:35 pm Monday, January 26, 2015

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS SHOW STOPPER: Southside’s Donshae Miller scored his 1,000th career point with six minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Five minutes and 52 seconds later, he hit the game-winning free throws to seal the Seahawks’ win.

SHOW STOPPER: Southside’s Donshae Miller scored his 1,000th career point with six minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Five minutes and 52 seconds later, he hit the game-winning free throws to seal the Seahawks’ win.

CHOCOWINITY — For the last three years, Southside’s 5-foot-9 point guard Donshae Miller has been the principal cog to the Seahawks dribble-drive offensive machine. He’s had his fair share of double-doubles, 30-point games and memorable moments on the hardwood, but Monday night may have topped them all.

With the Seahawks down three in the fourth quarter, Miller picked off a perimeter pass and started a one-on-one break up the floor. Instead of driving to the hoop, however, Miller chose to pull up for a deep three-pointer from NBA range. As the ball sailed through the air, silence. Every pair of eyes fixated on the high-arching shot and when it dropped, the gymnasium erupted, a decibel level like nothing the fans in Chocowinity have heard in over a decade. The clock displayed 6:01.

“Obviously it was great when he hit that three. I thought I was going to get a technical when I ran out on the court, pumping my fist,” said head coach Sean White. The three moved Miller to 1,002 points for his career, a noteworthy accomplishment, but that was hardly the story.

As the gymnasium continued to vibrate, Northside and Southside exchanged leads, once again, until Miller came to the line with under two minutes remaining, Southside up two. He missed the first, then the second. After Panthers’ star Edrice Adebayo emphatically knotted the score at 65, Miller again found himself at the line, where he missed the next two free throws. Northside head coach Mike Proctor called timeout to set up what was supposed to be a game-winning play with 36 seconds remaining.

As point guard Jabari Ashe drained the clock, the Panthers backcourt began to distribute the ball around the perimeter, pressured by Miller, Rashaun Moore and Tyriek Gaskins. Then, with less than 10 seconds remaining, Miller read a telegraphed pass, tipped the ball in the air, came down with it and, unlike the basket to move him over 1,000 career points, drove to the hoop on the break, drawing a foul with 8.6 seconds remaining. A perfect cap to an unforgettable evening, Miller drained both shots and Northside failed to get a good look in the final seconds. Southside came through with a 67-65 victory.

“I was speechless,” White said. “We had our times where we made mistakes, you’re not going to play a perfect game, but like I told them early, if you give yourself a chance to stay in the game and keep it close, we were going to win it with foul shots. And what did we do? We went to the line and won it with foul shots.”

Prior to the game-winning free throws, the first three quarters were a back and forth affair between two rivals. With over 20 lead changes, neither team held anything more than a four-point advantage.

“Everybody hit big shots tonight. It kept us energetic and we kept through, played as a team and fought,” Miller said.

In the first quarter, Southside spread the floor, as four of the five starters found the bottom of the net. Offensively, center Donshae Tatum challenged Adebayo in the paint and hit contested shots, but on defense, the Seahawks defenders failed to stop Northside’s 6-foot-8 big man without drawing a foul.

Knotted at 17, both teams continued to capitalize in transition in the second quarter.  Miller drained mid-range jumpers, Tamazja Dixon caught fire from range and Gaskins hit open looks in the paint. For the Panthers, 10 points from Adebayo kept pace and Southside led, 36-35, at the half.

Adebayo stepped up defensively in the third quarter with three blocks and another five points, while coming down with nearly every rebound, limiting second-chance opportunities for the Hawks. But a pair of unlikely three-pointers from the Southside center, Tatum, kept the home team in the game, though Northside would obtain its largest lead of the night.

The difference in the final eight minutes was not only Miller’s clutch shooting, but also Moore’s performance at the line, hitting five-of-six foul shots, a three pointer and a layup.

“We’re in the driver’s seat going into Wednesday,” White said. “East Carteret is coming in and they’re undefeated in the conference. This is the biggest game, the next one in line. We have a chance to make the statement and stay at the top of the conference, where we want to be.”

Miller notched with a team-high 19 points to go along with six assists and three rebounds. Moore finished 18 points, despite scoring just four in the first half. For Northside, Adebayo finished with a game-high 31 points and 24 rebounds.

Southside will look to improve upon its conference standing when it hosts East Carteret on Wednesday. After losing 84-61 at home earlier in the month, Northside will get another crack at East Carteret on Friday in Beaufort.