CRESSON – The seniors who played in Friday night’s Altoona Mirror Basketball Classic spent the majority of their varsity careers under some kind of restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
They missed out on games, played in empty gyms and some even missed the chance to win state titles.
Hollidaysburg senior Marin Miller was one of the players that missed out on her chance at history.
Miller helped the Lady Tigers win district championships, two state playoff games and a Mountain League title, but she fell just short of the Hollidaysburg scoring record held by Amanda Ottaway after playing a condensed schedule in the 2020-2021 season.
In her final appearance at the high school level Friday at Mount Aloysius before going off to Millersville to continue her career, Miller scored 33 points to break the girls scoring record in the Mirror Classic.
“I had a lot of things I missed out on,” Miller said. “I was 20 points short of the scoring record for my school, so it kind of feels like I finally got some reward for all the hard work I put in. I had so many things taken away, and this kind of feels like a happy ending. ”
Miller’s accomplishment was one of many highlights in front of a crowd that was near 1,500 between the boys and girls game.
“After a two-year hiatus, the Mirror is excited to be part of this again,” Altoona Mirror publisher Dan Slep said. “It’s exciting for us and our sponsors. It’s great to see such a nice crowd here tonight. We’re just happy to have these kids here, who have worked so hard for so long, get this special moment to end their high school careers. ”
Claysburg-Kimmel senior Bailey Garver and Portage senior Lauren Shaffer both experienced nice moments by making free throws to start the second quarter for their respective teams after being unable to play due to knee injuries.
Garver was nearly in tears after making both of her shots and returning to a standing ovation from her bench.
All four teams that played Friday had some nice runs that brought their fans to their feet. Gone was the silence after a big play that was reality in 2021, replaced by an entire college gymnasium full of fans to give the proper accolades to the area’s top players in their final game.
Not surprisingly, the best players, like Miller, rose to the occasion.
“Overcoming all the adversity I had to deal with is going to make me a stronger player in college,” Miller said. “I think it’s important to remember the setbacks and problems you had so that you can grow from it. It’s also important to reflect on the positives like for us winning the Latrobe (state playoff) game. That was a fun game, and this game tonight was probably one of the most fun games I have played in my whole high school career. ”
There may have been some unfortunate and quite frankly unfair bumps in the road for these seniors, but Friday night their high school careers at least got the ending most of them imagined when they first came out for their varsity teams before a pandemic was part of anyone’s reality.
Michael Boytim can be reached at [email protected] or 814-946-7521. Follow him on Twitter @BoytimMichael