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01/05/2022 11:00 PM

Miller Peaking at Right Time for Tigers

Carson Miller, a junior, has earned her spot as a starter on the Hand girls’ varsity basketball team. She is averaging nine points and six rebounds per game this season.Photo courtesy of Carson Miller

When Carson Miller was in the 4th grade, she decided she wanted to try out a new sport. Her best friend insisted that Carson give basketball a chance.

Now 16 years old and a junior at Daniel Hand High School, Carson in the starting center on the Tigers’ girls’ basketball team and she’s averaging nine points and six rebounds per game.

“Following my 4th-grade soccer season, one of my soccer teammates and best friends, Coco Rourke, encouraged me to sign up for basketball and we have playing together ever since,” says Carson. “I am competitive by nature, so I love the competitiveness and fast pace of the game, but for me having a small team that relies on one another really drives me to do my best.”

Since Carson arrived at Hand as a freshman, she has been a part of the Tigers’ varsity basketball program. The 6-foot center’s goal has always been to become a starter for Hand, and this season Head Coach Tim Tredwell named her to the starting five.

“Being a part of the varsity team since I was a freshman has been an honor, but having my name called as a varsity starter this season is the highlight of my basketball career,” says Carson. “This is my third season working with Coach Tredwell. He is an intuitive coach. He knows when I get in my head and has a way of letting me know when I need to let things go. It is undeniable how much Coach Tredwell loves the game of basketball, and he is very dedicated to our team. I am looking forward to building on our coach and player relationship this season.”

Carson’s passion for the sport of basketball reached its height when she was in 7th grade.

“I’ve been playing AAU with CT Cobras since 7th grade in the offseason and this year, I stopped playing soccer to focus on basketball year-round,” says Carson. “Aside from shooting in the driveway, clinics and camps, this fall I trained twice a week with my AAU coach Russ Hill and also started training weekly with Coach Martin, a Madison police officer.”

She says the extra training was well worth it.

Martin “has been really positive and inspirational. I am very grateful for Coach Martin’s help,” she says. “He’s pushed me to do my best in the recent months.”

Carson dropped lacrosse as well as soccer as part of her all-on commitment to basketball. The 16-year-old has mixed feelings about letting go of soccer.

“I played soccer through my sophomore year in high school, but then as I approached fall 2021, I realized that the reason I was playing soccer was to stay shape for basketball,” says Carson. “It was bittersweet leaving my team, but I think it was the right move for me to focus on the sport I love the most.”

Coach Tredwell credited Carson for her hard work during the offseason. The Tigers’ head coach says Carson has improved drastically on both sides of the ball.

“Carson is such a huge part of our team,” says Coach Tredwell. “She’s worked extraordinarily hard in the offseason on her post footwork and shooting touch and it’s starting to pay off. Her post defense and toughness has also improved dramatically. Perhaps most importantly, she’s an outstanding teammate. She doesn’t need a lot of attention; she just puts her head down and does the work. Her biggest issue is that she expects so much from herself and sometimes she struggles under the weight of her own goals. Her coaches and teammates all know what she’s capable of and how important she is to our success. When she finally breaks out, it’s going to be great for her and for us.”

With COVID-19 positive cases on the rise in Connecticut, Carson is concerned about missing games. She and her teammates have taken all the precautions necessary to ensure that doesn’t happen.

“I am most concerned that COVID will interrupt our season,” says Carson. “It means so much to have our friends and family at games to cheer on the team, so I do worry that we will go back to having more restrictions. I am vaccinated and my team is really safe overall, so I do hope we will remain healthy and able to play.”

So far this season, the Tigers are 3-1 overall and Carson’s expectation for the team is to advance deep into the postseason.

“My expectations for this year are to better my game, be more confident, build team chemistry and win,” says Carson. “We’ve only played a few games, but we are off to a great start.”

She’s aware of challenges ahead, but feels she and her teammates are prepared.

“Due to various circumstances, we have yet to play with a full varsity squad, so we have already had some things to overcome, but my teammates have been amazing stepping up when the time comes,” she says. “I do believe we have a promising season ahead and I am excited to see what the next few months bring.”