Rio Sports Live

Miller set to host London in battle of state-ranked teams

By Mark Molina | RSL

While schedule changes have been commonplace during the 2020-21 high school sports year, they have now helped set the table for arguably one of the biggest games of the boys basketball season.

In an effort to make up for some early season cancellations, the No. 15 (Class 4A) Corpus Christi Miller Bucs will host the No. 4 (Class 3A) London Pirates tonight in a matchup of state-ranked Coastal Bend heavies.

Since announced, the contest has become a highly anticipated one around the Corpus Christi community, and it will allow both teams to not only makeup some of those lost games but test themselves with the postseason rapidly approaching.

“We scheduled this game because we had a deep playoff run in football and due to COVID, we lost out on some games early in the year,” Miller head coach Maurice Bastian said. “We thought this would be a nice game towards the end as not only a measuring stick, but also against a top-notch quality team. They play very good basketball… it’s a wonderful program. We want to measure where we are at this point.”

London head coach Ron Lawver echoed the sentiment and said it will give the area quite the treat.

“I think it’s pretty big for the community,” he said. “It’s two pretty good teams in the city. Obviously, Miller has had a fantastic season. They’re athletic, they’re long, they’re lengthy; so, it’ll be a very good test for us. We’re excited to play them.”

Miller comes in 16-3 overall and is riding a 16-game winning streak since getting back its football athletes, last losing back on Nov. 30, 2020 at Corpus Christi Carroll 62-54. Since then, the Bucs have cruised to an 11-0 District 26-4A record.

Meanwhile, the London Pirates are 20-1 and a perfect 6-0 in 30-3A. Their last blemish came in a 66-56 loss at Tuloso-Midway on Dec. 7, 2020 and have since rattled off 18 wins in a row, including wins over other state-ranked teams like then-No. 1 in Class 3A San Antonio Cole (66-59), No. 9 in Class 1A San Perlita (95-64) and No. 8 in Class 2A Port Aransas (60-51 and 52-45). 

If the resumes are not enough, both teams boast among the top players in the area, with Miller being led by forwards Andrew Body and Albert Levingston, along with the guard play of Lonnie Adkism.

While all three have the ability to lead by putting up points, Bastian believes their strength lies on defense and ability to play physical when needed.

“What carries us over has been our tenacious defense,” he said. “I believe we’re still behind on the offensive end and there are a lot of things from an execution standpoint that we have to work on. However, since we’ve gotten our football players back we’re 16-0. Football and basketball at Miller go hand-in-hand and it just makes us better athletes and players. We are prepared for the physicality of the game. “

London’s Joshua Chesney advances the ball into the frontcourt on Friday, Feb. 5, 2021 against Bishop at London High School. Courtesy photo.

For London, it starts with stretch forward Joshua Chesney, whose ability to score inside and on the perimeter will create an interesting matchup against a stout, athletic defender like Body.

The London guard play of Preston and Pierson Cazalas also has been big as their ball handling and passing abilities create offense for themselves and others, especially in transition.

Look for both teams to run and gun as well as play in the paint, crash the boards and create opportunities through defense.

Lawver says the trick for his team will be to see if they can keep up with Miller and to use this game to continue to grow, because, like the Bucs, the Pirates also could use a test to cross t’s and dot i’s.

 “All my (players) play football as well except for two and we’re pretty far back so it benefits us at this part of the season,” Lawver said. “This is when I start to feel that we begin to get our legs under us. We have football out of the system, and maybe we’re peaking at the right time. I am interested to see how we react to their athleticism and speed. It’s going to be different to what we see in the district. They are 4A and they are ranked and they are good.”

The opening tip is set for approximately 7:30 p.m. at Miller High School following a District 26-4A fourth-place game between the Lady Bucs and the Port Lavaca Calhoun Sandies at 6 p.m. Rio Sports Live will be on hand to stream both games.

London’s Preston Cazalas runs through the Pirate offense against Bishop on Friday, Feb. 5, 2021 against Bishop at London High School. Courtesy photo.

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