Badger thumps Chalker; Miller reaches 1,000

VERNON — The Badger Braves advanced to the second round of the Division IV Grand Valley District tournament with a 65-32 victory over the Chalker Wildcats Tuesday night.

The Braves (14-9) move on to face another Northeastern Athletic Conference opponent, Windham, on Friday.

Despite holding a 27-20 lead at the half, Badger coach Joshua Upshire described the team’s first half as a “slow start.” The seeds for a rush were planted late in the second quarter, however, when junior Aiden Miller, the newest member of the 1,000-point club, made a highlight reel block that spurred a quick 8-3 run for the Braves going into the half. Badger led 27-20 at the intermission.

“I went in there and didn’t draw anything on the board,” Upshire said. “I just said that they were outplaying us in the first half, they were diving for loose balls. I told them there was nothing that I needed to draw up to get after them in the second half, and to extend our lead from what it was.

“I said to them to just come out with the energy we had against Lakeview or we had against Windham and we would be fine.”

Badger came out with that energy in spades, with two steals by Logan Popovich to set up easy lay-ups for Logan Lendak within the first two minutes of the third quarter. The Braves went on to net 25 points in the third, with Curtis Houser hitting two shots from beyond the arc for six total points, and Miller leading the team throughout the quarter with nine.

Badger held a 52-28 lead heading into the final quarter.

Miller finished with 18 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks. He ended the third quarter with a 3-pointer to net the 1,000th point of his career. He quickly followed that up with another 3-pointer on the first shot of the fourth.

“Aiden [Miller] is a phenomenal kid,” Upshire said. “He puts in a lot of work. He’s the kid that is here, putting in time. To see him get his 1,000th point tonight is a really special moment.

“He puts in the time to do what he does, and to see him have successes is really exciting for me. We had a lot of little kids here tonight that look up to him and hopefully they see that and have aspirations and dreams to do the same thing.”

Tristan Mollohan had 10 points, leading the Wildcats (6-17). Aiden Ricks led the team in rebounds on the night, putting up eight points and nine rebounds. Zach Regal finished second on the team in rebounds with four, and Lucas Wilson and Dylan Dye each had five points.

The Braves won the turnover battle, only turning the ball over 11 times compared to Chalker’s 21. Each team had two steals apiece, with Popovich from Badger and Ricks from Chalker stealing the ball twice.

Badger lost to Windham, 70-65, in their only meeting this season.

“They (Windham) are a physical team, they play with a bunch of energy. If we come out with the same energy we started with tonight, it could get ugly early,” Upshire said. “The next two days we’re gonna preach energy. That’s what Windham does.

“They have a phenomenal point guard in Phillip Maiorca, a great scorer in Mason Angle, and Eric Park plays the wing very well, so we have to come out with energy, because we know they’re gonna come out with energy and get after us. The game is on their floor, so we’re gonna come out with fire.”