Zoe Miller making her mark as a Hiland legend and one of Ohio's elite


BERLIN — To say that Zoe Miller is the total package would be an understatement. She is that, and more.

Venerable Hiland coach Dave Schlabach is lobbying for Player of the Year honors for Miller, a 6-foot-1 senior who will be taking her talents to Bowling Green to continue playing when her illu strious career is complete at Hiland.

“The way she plays in the biggest games is something I’d like the state media to recognize, but I doubt they will ever know,” Schlabach said of Miller. “Laurel has a 6-foot, 3-inch kid going to Ohio State, and Zoe goes out and completely dominates her. That is what she has done this year in big games, and it is a great indicator as to just how good she is.

"I hope she is the Division III Player of the Year. I haven’t seen anybody better than her. Not even close.”

Looking at the numbers alone, Miller's accomplishments are outstanding, averaging almost 18 points and 10 rebounds per game on a team loaded with talent. She is shooting 56% from the field, and 43% from beyond the 3-point arc, nailing 21 3s so far this year. She has also made good on 103 of 131 trips to the free-throw line.

All for a team that is headed to the Div. III state semifinals Thursday to play Purcell Marian in Dayton. It's Hiland's third trip to state in Miller's four years within the program.

Miller is a lock to become a first-team All-Ohioan for a third straight season.

"I just do what I can to help my team win," Miller said.

Her teammates love that about her.

"It's nice to know when I throw the ball into the post, I can rely on Zoe a lot to catch that pass," point guard Morgan Yoder said. "I know she will, so I'm not worried. If we're in a close game and we need some rebounds, we can rely on Zoe for that.

"She just brings that competitiveness to our team," Yoder said. "We've relied on her a lot the past four years. Even back in middle school and elementary, we were on the same AAU team. She's the player you can always rely on, because you know she'll finish whatever you ask of her."

Another longtime teammate, Karli Horn, agreed.

"Zoe is probably my favorite teammate," Horn said. "She is always hustling, no matter what. She gives 100% effort all the time. It's nice to know, if I brick it, Zoe is inside to grab the rebound. She helps the team no matter what we need, whether it's defending the post, or scoring. We rely on her to get stops in the big games."

Outside of basketball, Miller keeps things light.

"We get together a lot away from basketball," Horn said. "She lightens the mood. She's really pretty funny. We have a of of fun."

Miller knows that stats are nice, but the big thing is to be a team player, and the goal is getting to state, and then taking the next step at college.

Zoe hit the jackpot in the gene pool, coming from two pretty gifted basketball players. She gets her size from her dad, Mike, who played for New Philadelphia in high school, and her competitiveness from her mother, Christa Wells Miller, who was one of the most prolific scorers in Ohio high school girls basketball history with more than 2,000 points during her days playing for Jack Van Reeth at West Holmes. She graduated from West Holmes in 1991, second all-time in scoring behind Lisa Cline.

Zoe's mom said she appreciates that her daughter will have qualified for the state tournament three times during her high school career, which eluded Christa during her playing days. Christa's older sister, Carrie Wells, was point guard during the three straight state championship teams with Cline in 1984-86, and younger sister Cynthia got to go to state in the 1990s.

"My sisters got to go to state, but I never got to go. It was just unfortunate," Miller said. "I'm not sure what happened. It's not that we fell apart or changed our game. We just had those off days. It wasn't meant for us to be there. I'm ecstatic that I get to share the experience with Zoe and the other girls, and the other parents as well.

"She wouldn't be where she is today if it weren't for a fantastic coaching staff, and her teammates are just awesome. They are very supportive," her mother continued. "I'm so glad she's where she's at today, all her accomplishments. It's definitely the coaching staff and her teammates who have gotten her where she is today."

Miller commended the work Hiland assistant coach Seger Bonifant has done with the players on the low post, teaching them how to use their lower part of their bodies to establish position, as well as the things she has learned from Schlabach and Cousy Borter.

Zoe is a go-getter, according to her mother. She's very unselfish and she works hard, not only for herself, but for her team, too.

"I couldn't be more proud of her, not only for what she's done on the court, but in the classroom as well," Christa Miller said. "Zoe has school five days a week, basketball six days a week, and she works every Sunday. She's a go-getter.

"I am extremely proud of her and the entire Hiland program," Miller continued. "All the girls here have been wonderful."

Zoe Miller's hard work has certainly paid off, and in less than a week, she can further etch her name onto the list of Hiland greats with one final accomplishment — a state championship.