DARKE COUNTY – A senior who has received national acclaim and a freshman who is working her way to stardom are this week’s Daily Advocate athletes of the week.
This week’s Daily Advocate athletes of the week are Versailles boys basketball player Justin Ahrens and Bradford girls basketball player Skipp Miller.
Ahrens leads Darke County with 28.3 points per game this season. He also leads his team with 8.3 rebounds per game and is second on the team with 2.8 assists per game for the undefeated Tigers.
“He’s a really good player and he’s going to Ohio State for a reason,” Versailles boys basketball coach Travis Swank said of Ahrens, who is committed to play college basketball at Ohio State. “He’s got a lot of skill developed, he’s a matchup problem for a lot of teams with his height and the skill level he has.”
With Ahrens’ ability to excel in so many facets of the game, Versailles asks him to play a lot of positions throughout games. That helps the Tigers as they can use Ahrens to compliment whichever players they have on the floor at any given moment.
“It makes your team versatile by having that type of person,” Swank said. “You can do a lot of different things with a person of that caliber.”
Ahrens had a big night on Wednesday at Anna, hitting the game-winning shot at the final buzzer. He finished the night with a game-high 29 points, 24 of which came in the second half after picking up two quick fouls in the first quarter.
“He did a really good job as far as not losing focus in the game,” Swank said. “He could have gotten frustrated with being in foul trouble and not playing much in the first half.”
Led by Ahrens, Versailles is looking to defend its Midwest Athletic Conference championship and make another long run in the Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament.
“There’s a lot more season left to go and hopefully things work out in our favor,” Swank said.
Even though she’s only a freshman, Miller already has become Bradford’s go-to player. Bradford girls basketball coach Patrick McKee knew Miller had the ability to play varsity ball as a freshman, he said, but her playing so well so early has surprised even him.
“I kind of had a feeling that this was coming and that she would be able to step in and contribute right away,” he said, “but this production has surprised me.”
Miller is the only girl in Darke County averaging a double-double this season. She currently is averaging 11.2 points per game and 10.6 rebounds a game.
“For only being a freshman, she’s really kind of came on strong,” McKee said. “We try not to lean on her too much but just the athleticism she provides, she’s averaging a double-double, gets quite a few steals and assists … that’s quite a bit for a freshman.”
Miller is only 5-feet 7-inches tall, but she leads the county in rebounds per game. McKee attributes Miller’s rebounding success with her jumping ability, positioning and understanding of the game.
“That’s the number that really surprises me right now,” the Bradford coach said of Miller’s rebounds.
Miller’s athleticism allows her to excel on the court. As her game develops more, she’ll become an even better weapon for the Railroaders.
“I think she’ll be an even more dangerous weapon once she can develop that jump shot,” McKee said.
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.