Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009 | 12:19 p.m.
- Eighth grader Sofie Cruz on Bob Miller Middle School's girls' basketball team's history
Bob Miller Middle School basketball coaches Rich Santigate and Mike Detwiler have always insisted on running their boys and girls teams together.
While Santigate officially heads the girls and Detwiler heads the boys, each coach has his hands in the whole program.
It was no coincidence both squads reached their respective Clark County School District middle school championship game last year.
The teamwork between both sets of players and coaches has turned Miller into perennial power.
"Our boys and girls are not two separate teams," Santigate said. "It's a basketball program. Everything we do — from fundraising, our tournaments and traveling — is done together. You don't find that in most of the schools."
While Miller lost both of last year's title games, the teams took solace in reaching the finals together.
Nevertheless, the losses have left a lingering bad taste in the returning eighth graders' mouths.
"I felt like we got a little too confident with ourselves and in that last game, we threw it away," eighth grader Sophie Cruz said. "I think we have the talent to go all the way. It's all about our effort. If we put enough effort throughout the whole season, I think we can do it."
The boys and girls got off to a good start at the Bobcat Preseason Challenge on Jan. 10.
Miller defeated Irwin & Susan Molasky Middle School 45-31 in the girls challenge's finals and lost 70-57 to Molasky in the boys finals.
Eighth grader Katlin Fahrner received outstanding player honors after leading Miller with 24 points in the championship game.
The preseason tournament has proven reliable in predicting the top teams at the end of the season.
Last year, the teams that reached the Bobcats Preseason Challenge finals also reached the Clark County finals.
"I'm absolutely impressed with the performance of both teams," Santigate said. "The boys are only going to get better, but it's going to take a lot to top Molasky."
Miller's girls have received plenty of recognition in recent years — they have appeared in the last three championships and won it in 2007 — but its boys are relative newcomers to success.
The boys have made the playoffs the last three years, but they lost in its first championship game to Sig Rogich Middle School last season.
"I think we learned a lot from that game," Miller eighth grader Brannon Cresanto said.
Detwiler is confident in the boys' continuing success in its competitive Southeast II Division.
"We have some pretty sophisticated schemes," Detwiler said. "We're able to give them a lot and they're able to handle it"
The majority of athletes in Miller's starting lineups are eighth graders, which makes most of the key players new to competition.
The coaches allow about 20 players on each team, but they are careful to allow a contingent of sixth and seventh graders to build the program.
"I think the key to our success is development," Santigate said. "You try to develop the talent and eventually you'll win."
Sean Ammerman can be reached at 990-2661 or [email protected].