There is a lot of talent on the Champlin Park roster, from Wagner commit Amanda Pollard and Montana State signee Gabbi Mocchi to senior point guard Erica Hicks, one of the best unsigned players in Minnesota. The most important player on the floor in the Rebels' 58-45 win over Anoka on Wednesday night, however, may have been a 5'2″ sophomore guard you have probably never heard of – Miyah Dubose, who scored just two points in our Northstar Girls Hoops Game of the Week.
Anoka recorded the game's first 10 points as Champlin Park struggled to get going. The Rebels couldn't make a shot, even if it was two feet from the rim. Although they had converted 5 of 6 free throws, the Rebels didn't manage a field goal until the 7th minute when sophomore guard Izzy Quick dropped a three-pointer. Moments later, Hicks went end to end and for a layup to tie the game and the Rebels never looked back. It was the insertion of Quick and DuBose into the game that had dramatically altered the course of events. “We made a couple of subs and got a little bit quicker, and obviously our defense changed the game,” said Champlin Park coach Josh Steck. “When we have Izzy and Miyah on the floor, it kind of changes our mentality with all of the kids because we are up and defending and we are getting after it.”
Yes, DuBose is tiny – perhaps 100 pounds after a couple of Big Macs – but she has ultra-fast feet and astounding leaping ability that defies the laws of physics. DuBose was a defensive force on Wednesday, breaking up plays in any number of ways, including a stunning block on an Anoka player who has her by 8 or 9 inches. The Rebels had an impressive 13 steals. “Miyah is deceptive. I think players look at her size and figure she can't really do anything because she is so small,” Steck said. “Well guess what, she is tiny but she is athletic and she is super, super quick. She can also get off her feet and jump a little bit, and she has really good hands. When Miyah comes into the game it's just a whole different thing at that point.”
Champlin tightened up on defense, raised its level of intensity, and went on an 18-4 run. The Rebels were still shooting poorly (6 for 22 in the half) or it would have been a complete blowout. In the closing seconds of the first half, DuBose ran down an Anoka ball-handler, tipped the ball free for the steal, sprinted 60 feet in the other direction, feeding Hicks for a bucket at the buzzer. Champlin was up 10. In the second, they were dominant, and before long Anoka was done and dusted. Despite the best efforts of their best player – Noelle Josephson – Anoka had no answers.
“Noelle got in foul trouble early and she is a big piece of what we do offensively and defensively,” said Tornadoes coach Zack Vogelsberg. “When she came out it kind of deflated us a little bit and it took us awhile to get our focus back. By that time we were down six or eight. Champlin kind of brought it after a little while and we just kind of lost it. We have a couple of younger kids that we are trying to give playing time to but, unfortunately, I don't think they are quite ready for games like this.”
A completely different player
DuBose is still a youngster herself. She did get some varsity time as a freshman but, like Vogelsberg's newcomers, she was not quite ready for prime time. Over the summer, DuBose played for Derek Turner's Get Shook squad where she grew as a player and raised her level of play. “She is a great student of the game, and she came in this fall as a totally different player from a maturity standpoint,” Steck said. “Just phenomenal.”
For all of the impact DuBose and Quick had, Champlin Park wouldn't have won on this night (most nights for that matter) without Hicks, whose basketball intelligence is beyond question. Plus she knows how to score. A lot. Every game. How much does Hicks mean to Champlin Park? “Everything!” Steck said. “She scores. She is a great leader. She is so crafty with the basketball. She is a kid that everyone can rely on.”
Although she started the season shooting 0-16 from three, Hicks quickly recovered and is averaging a team-leading 21 points per game. Hicks is rated 36th in the Class of 2018, although she would no doubt be higher if she had not stopped playing for North Tartan's top AAU team. Hicks actually quit basketball her freshman year for a brief time. When Erica graduates this spring, she is apparently planning to walk away for good. “College basketball is not for everyone,” Steck said. “She has a lot of offers, and I get phone calls weekly about her, but it's just not something she wants to do. Even though she didn't play AAU the past two summers, the D1s were still calling about her. She's just not interested.”
Hicks finished the game with 21 points, while Quick had 10, Mocchi 8 and Pollard 6. Josephson and Lily Schoknecht had 17 apiece for Anoka, which has now lost five of its past seven games.