By ANTHONY MELLENDORF
For The Yukon Review
The 2021 Miller basketball season has been a year plagued by multiple quarantines, postponed games and two tough overtime losses early on. The Millers are 3-and-4 on the season with losses to two of the top 15 teams in class 6A.
With six teams in class 6A currently quarantined due to COVID-19 protocols the Millers are certainly not the only team that has faced struggles this season, but Miller head coach Kevin Ritter said this year has been particularly rough for his team.
“Basketball is a rhythm sport, it’s not like football,” he said. “We got quarantined the first week of Octo-ber for 10 days and out of 21 guys we have, 11 play football, so we only had six practices where we had enough guys to scrimmage preseason.”
The Millers were then shut down again for a week on a decision by the Yukon administration once the football players returned to the team. The Millers also missed the first three games of the season, due to their opponents being out because of COVID-19
In total, the Millers have rescheduled 11 games this season and are currently waiting on four more games that are in jeopardy of needing rescheduled too.
Early in the season, the Millers dropped back-to-back games in overtime to Moore and Norman North by a combined nine points total. Norman North three days later beat Edmond Memorial – the number one team in Class 6A.
Coach Ritter said it is just hard to prepare for games like that without practice.
“It changes your mindset. I feel like if someone went in the season as a coach you are going to be frustrated because you don’t have enough time,” he said.” “We were limited on how long we could practice and there is just not enough time to work on conditioning, defense, offense and situational stuff.”
The Millers, when they could practice this season, have been limited to only 90 minutes but despite the challenges coach Ritter said the boys are fighting through because they are not the only ones going through it. The Millers are not making any excuses this season either and despite sloppy play and less than perfect execution coach Ritter said overall he is pleased with his team so far.
The Miller coaching staff talked before the season about two things this year, be flexible and be ready. Being ready to play when called upon has been a mantra of coach Ritter’s this season and it has also given his players a lot of opportunities to see playing time.
Experience is invaluable in sports and many of the Millers’ underclassmen will look to build off this season moving forward. Despite the weird year Ritter said the goals coming into the season are the same — win the first round of postseason play.
In Class 6A, the first round of regional play is single elimination, and after the first round it becomes double elimination, so a team’s chances of advancing to state increases after winning their first-round matchup.
In the last 25 years, Yukon has made it out of the first round of postseason play three times. One of those times was last season, when they beat Sapulpa by five in first round of the regional tournament at Booker T Washington.
Ritter said he feels like, as it stands, his team has a good chance to give themselves a chance this year in postseason play.
“The next couple of weeks are big for playoff seeding,” he said. “We are going to try and get a rhythm going and hopefully we can make it through the rest of the season, so we are playing our best basketball when that playoff game comes up at the end of February.”
The Millers game on Tuesday against Mus-tang has been rescheduled for Saturday so they are back in action Friday when they host Westmoore for homecoming.