Blaine senior ShaRon Miller’s love of basketball started as a youngster in elementary school, when she watched her uncles play. Her face lit up as she remembered it all.
“I just fell in love with the atmosphere when the crowd was cheering loud and when they made all their shots,” Miller said. “I just loved it. Just the atmosphere, the energy, the competition. It’s great.”
She hit the court in first grade and went to a few basketball camps.
“When I started learning that you could do all these cool things, I was just like, I want to know more, I want to know more, I want to get that down,” Miller said. “It was all just motivation. I just wanted to be better.”
Miller, a 6-foot center for Blaine (7-7), leads her team in scoring with an average of 16.6 points per game. Fans can find her in the paint during games, using her physicality to score points or play solid defense.
Coach Chris Brustuen said he expects her to dominate near the basket, and she does, with a knack for grabbing rebounds.
“Her hands are probably the softest pair of hands that I’ve seen through here,” Brustuen said. “They’re almost like vacuums.”
She uses those hands on the track team, too, in the shot put and discus events. She was hooked freshman year when she learned her work in track could help her arm strength and footwork.
“If it’ll help with basketball, why not?” Miller said. “It helped a lot.”
Brustuen also pointed out Miller’s unselfishness when she has the basketball. In a 57-51 home victory over Totino-Grace on Jan. 16, Miller made her presence known, passing the ball to teammates like senior Mariah Pearson, who scored a basket to tie the game in the second half.
Pearson sees Miller connecting with younger teammates and showing her leadership simply by talking with them.
“She always has something to say,” Pearson said. “She’s just very encouraging. She’s always saying to have confidence and to shoot the ball.”
Pearson and Miller play basketball together, and they also took to the stage in eighth grade for a school performance of “The Wizard of Oz.” Miller played the cowardly lion. She dabbled in school plays and choir in the past, but has really stuck with singing and performs in a multicultural show at school.
“I just love singing,” Miller said. “I woo them with my voice.”
Her play — both on the court and on the stage — aside, it’s her attitude and “yes, coach,” “got it, coach” responses during practice that make her stand out. She’s all about working hard and improving, according to her coach.
“We don’t see that with everybody these days,” Brustuen said. “She’s certainly not a player that has a sense of entitlement.”
Getting back to that family influence, Miller loves playing basketball with her uncles, aunts and cousins. Games of “pig’’ or “horse’’ usually break out, “just kind of goofing around,” she said. Then there’s her mom, who makes sure to write a note on her daughter’s bedroom white board before every game.
“She always is there to push me,” Miller said. “She really motivates me.”
Miller wants to keep playing basketball after high school. She hopes to attend the University of North Dakota — what she calls her “dream school” — and become an athletic trainer, “so I can always be around sports regardless,” she said.
“Basketball, it’s been my go-to,” she said. “Every day I had a bad day or something, I would go straight to the court. I play every game like it’s my last.”