How Brandon Miller led Cane Ridge to first basketball state tournament in shortened COVID-19 season

Joseph Spears
Nashville Tennessean

As the final buzzer went off, Brandon Miller walked off the Cane Ridge basketball court with his teammates jumping and doing flips around him.

Miller had no interest in joining his teammates in their chaotic celebration. He was soaking in the moment.

Miller, a five-star college prospect and the No. 2 player in the state for the Class of 2022 according to the 247Sports Composite, scored 30 points to lead Cane Ridge past Beech 67-58 and onto its first TSSAA state tournament appearance in a season the Ravens weren't even sure was going to happen.

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"This year was the first year we had been out of the first round of regions as well so all of this is just really big," said Miller, a 6-foot-7 forward. "I've never experienced anything like this before. It feels good and now we just need to be ready for whoever we play in state."  

Cane Ridge (13-0) plays Bearden (30-3) on March 18 in the Class AAA state quarterfinals at Middle Tennessee State's Murphy Center in Murfreesboro.

The Ravens did not begin its season until Feb. 2 when Metro Nashville Public Schools chose to not start their basketball seasons until then.

Cane Ridge cruised through their six regular-season games winning by an average of 45.8 points as Miller averaged 22.8 points.

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Postseason play brought more of a challenge for the Ravens.

Cane Ridge only beat Hillsboro and Franklin by seven points in the District 12-AAA and Region 6-AAA championship games respectively.

Cane Ridge's Brandon Miller (24) shoots against Beech during the fourth quarter of the Class AAA sectional game at Cane Ridge High School in Antioch, Tenn., Monday, March 8, 2021.

The postseason has also brought the best out of Miller entered Monday night's game averaging 25.1 points in the postseason.

"We knew in those games that we had to prepare for what we were going to see tonight and then in the state tournament," Miller said. "Hillsboro and Franklin threw different defenses and offenses at us that we weren't used to seeing. Having those games past us really prepared us for this."

Miller's first half against Beech was a mixed bag. He scored 11 points in the first half, but missed a majority of the second quarter due to foul trouble.

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Miller picked up his pace in the second half, scoring 19 points over the final 16 minutes and made all eight of his free throws in the fourth quarter to help Cane Ridge put the finishing touches on the win. 

"He gives us something special and I truly appreciate him being a part of Cane Ridge High School,' Ravens coach Marlin Simms said. "He stayed the course and stayed connected with his teammates when we need him to."

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Reach Joe Spears at jspears2@gannett.com or 731-343-4923. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @joe_spears7.