ERIE — Adversity is common in sports, but Erie senior point guard Laykin Miner knows adversity like no one else.|
Playing for the first time in January during her high school basketball career, Miner's constant dribble penetration and tough plays paid off for the Erie Lady Cardinals, as they held off the Fulton Steamers 45-37 for the Three Rivers Conference victory.
"This is the first time I have made it to the new year," said an excited Miner after the game in which she posted game-highs of 11 points, four assists, and three steals. "I'm still not 100 percent, but I'm excited about being healthy this long."
Still wearing a Volkswagen-size knee brace, Miner has fought multiple knee and shoulder surgeries to keep playing. In odd ways, the injuries have helped. After injuring her right shoulder early in high school, she forced herself to learn how to play left-handed. The result was her ability to consistently drive past the Fulton defense and find open shots or open teammates because she could get past defenders with either hand.
"She is coming back into form," said Erie coach Brian Howell, whose Lady Cardinals move to 14-5, 5-3 in the TRAC-9. "I don't want to jinx us, but I would like to say we are getting healthier."
Erie had worked into a 25-18 halftime lead after a strong second quarter from freshman Rachel Cobert (seven points, game-high 18 rebounds), her sister Courtney Cobert (eight points) and Miner, who knocked down a 3-ball with a foul that she converted into a four-point play to give the Lady Cardinals their seven-point advantage at the break.
Fulton (6-15, 1-5 TRAC-9) fought back in the second half. After consistently chipping away at Erie's lead, Morgan Wierema (11 points, 12 rebounds) grabbed an offensive rebound and cut the lead to a basket and Samantha Raab (seven points) then swished a long jumper to tie the score 31-31 heading into the final frame.
Said Howell, "The challenge during the timeout between quarters was to find some energy and go get it. They responded."
Erie got a big boost from its bench with senior Kayla Waggoner (nine points) canning a huge 3-pointer to start off the fourth quarter, followed by an inside bucket from junior Lexi Floming and back-to-back baskets from freshman Peyton Rus (four points), who took a steal coast-to-coast and followed with an offensive rebound putback that had the Lady Cardinals back up 40-31 after a nine-point run.
"We had some big contributions off the bench with Floming, Waggoner, Rus, and Classen, they were all in there when we made that run," said Howell. "Waggoner is a senior and she is that spark plug off the bench for us."
Fulton countered with a six-point run of its own but never got any closer with Waggoner and Miner both hitting some free throws down the stretch.
"We had a glimpse of what we are capable of doing," said Fulton coach Jesse Abbott, "but we ran out of gas at the end."
Erie continued to show its maturation through the season as it ran out the clock with its two point guards (Courtney Cobert and Miner) dribbling around, past, and through the Fulton defense. Earlier in the year, such situations had become big problems for the Lady Cardinals.
Said Miner, "We're learning to mesh more with the younger girls and it's become a big family basically."
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