Lions basketball star leads travel team to a national title

Alexis Miller averaged 18 points per game throughout the NTBA National Championship Tournament in which she scored the game-winning basket. Photo submitted by Ty Miller

One Louisa Lion took her basketball talents on the road this summer, helping her travel team win a national championship.

Alexis Miller, a rising senior at Louisa County High School, has been a standout on the Lions’ varsity basketball team for the past two seasons and competes on travel teams in the offseason. Her team, the Virginia Basketball Association Bruins, won the United States Basketball Association Virginia state championship in May and earned a trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to compete in the National Travel Basketball Association National championship on June 27-30.

“Just to go was exciting,” Miller said. “It was fun to be there.”

The Bruins led their opponents, Carolina Zoom, for most of the championship game, but a late surge allowed Carolina Zoom to pull ahead. With less than five seconds left on the clock, the Bruins trailed 53-52. 

“When you’re playing the caliber teams you’re playing [at this level], even though we were leading most of the time, it only takes a few mental mistakes to tighten it up and make [the game] close again,” Ty Miller, Alexis’s father and coach, said. “You never have it until it’s over.”

And the game was far from over. One of Miller’s teammates, Jules Shepherd, fouled a Zoom player to stop the clock. The player made her first foul shot, but missed the second. Shepherd grabbed the rebound and quickly made her way toward the center line before firing off a long pass to Alexis, who was waiting in three-point position.

“I had my feet already set, so I knew that if they got it to me, I was just going to shoot it and hope for the best,” Miller said. 

Miller caught the pass with less than one second on the clock and quickly fired off a three-point buzzer beater, hoping to win the game then and there.

“Everything [about the shot] felt good,” she said. “When I saw it go in, I was just too shocked to do anything.”

The Bruins were one of more than 200 teams from around the country to compete in the tournament. They played a total of six games, ending with a record of 4-2.

The tournament began with a pool play round on June 27. The Bruins, competing in the 11/12th-grade girls division, won their first game against Braves Nation, 45-23. They didn’t have as much luck against their other pool play opponents, losing their next two games. 

With a record of 1-2, the Bruins were ranked third in their pool and entered into the silver championship bracket beginning June 29. Their previous losses didn’t slow them down as they rolled to a 55-26 win over the Carolina Lady Defenders. 

On the morning of June 30, they then defeated the Confidence Cougars 55-46 in the semifinal round to advance to the championship game that afternoon against Carolina Zoom.

Miller has one more season with the Louisa Lions  basketball team, which she says she’s looking forward to. 

“I’m definitely excited for it,” she said. “We’re going to have a pretty good season. We’re definitely going to make a run because we have depth and we have the players we need to be successful.”