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Pete's Point: Miller to play at Concordia/St. Paul

What a difference one year has made for Kayla Miller.

The Pequot Lakes senior suffered a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) in her right knee while playing summer league basketball on May 18, 2013. The injury was devastating for Miller since the Patriots’ softball team that she played shortstop for would qualified for its first state tournament, plus she was in the process of choosing a college to extend her basketball career.

Miller worked hard to rehab, and did return to play a key role in helping the Pequot Lakes girls’ basketball team return to the state tournament last March. She’s also in the lineup for the Patriots’ softball team that is hoping to win the Section 7AA title.

But the best news for Miller is that her ultimate goal of playing college basketball moved a step closer with her recent decision to accept a scholarship to play for the Division II Concordia University of St. Paul Golden Bears next season.

“Tearing my ACL put everything in perspective and increased my focus and determination to play college basketball,” Miller said this week. “It put everything in perspective. It has definitely been a tough year, but I’m excited about my decision to play at Concordia. They won the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference last year and made the Elite Eight field. The coach (Paul Fessler) said I could have a great impact as a freshman.”

Fessler, whose team was ranked 12th and finished 28-9 overall last season, welcomes the addition of Miller.

“We are very excited to add someone with Kayla’s athleticism at such a late date,” he said. “She will have high expectations placed on her immediately as we need her to get into the rotation to help with our depth on the wing.

“We believe her competitive nature will be a huge asset. She is an all-around guard meaning she can drive and get to the free-throw line, shoot three-pointers and work the mid-range. The best part is she is an excellent student and we look forward to helping her grow as a student-athlete.”

Miller’s decision did come late as she looked at numerous colleges like Bemidji State, Wayne State and the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

“I originally wasn’t looking at Concordia, but I did see them play against Bemidji when I was visiting their campus,” she said. “Everything happened (with Concordia) in the past couple weeks. I was getting concerned as the school year winded down because I didn’t know where I was going, and most of the other kids had made a choice.”

Miller’s decision came after visiting the Concordia campus.

“It came down to Wayne State and Concordia, but going (to Concordia) changed my mind,” she said. “I was able to meet some of the players and work out with them. We will start basketball workouts right after college starts (in August).”

Fessler, who notice Miller playing AAU basketball, would like her to play at Two Guard position.

“My style of playing basketball changed after my injury,” she said. “It made me broaden my horizons. I always liked to drive and find gaps for layups, but (Pequot Lakes coach) Jon Dale told me I needed to change my game. I needed to score more points from the outside, or find an open shooter if I couldn’t drive inside.”

Changing her style of play, and bouncing back from the injury, made the start of last winter’s basketball season a challenge for Miller.

“It was tough, but my teammates were so supportive,” she recalled. “I felt like I became stronger as the season went. And then it was so nice to make it back to state.”