EGG HARBOR CITY - Kristine Miller would be an up-and-coming player at most schools.
She's a savvy veteran at Cedar Creek High School.
The sophomore scored 32 points and grabbed 23 rebounds to lead the Pirates to a historic victory Friday. Cedar Creek won the school's first varsity contest, beating Cape May Tech 65-60 in a Cape-Atlantic League National Conference Division II contest. Morgan Stefanski's 3-pointer with three minutes left in the game put the Pirates ahead for good.
"I loved it," Miller said. "I waited all day for this game."
Cedar Creek opened in September with freshmen and sophomores attending. The 5-foot-11 Miller played last season at Oakcrest, where she was a first-team CAL American Conference All-Star.
Oakcrest, Cedar Creek and Absegami are all part of the Greater Egg Harbor School District. Miller switched to Cedar Creek to enroll in the school's magnet engineering program.
The Cedar Creek girls team is one of the school's few varsity teams. The boys basketball team is playing a junior-varsity schedule this season.
The stands across from the teams' benches were packed with fans Friday. Cedar Creek held a pep rally during the day.
Cedar Creek dedicated the gym to Joe Mohr at halftime. Mohr, a lifetime Egg Harbor City resident, died in 2002 at the age of 81.
He was a coach and athletic director at the long defunct Egg Harbor City High School. Mohr also was the first athletic director for the Greater Egg Harbor School District.
Miller leads a young but talented team. Her varsity experience and the absence of juniors and seniors makes her the Pirates' leader.
Miller showed her poise late in the game. There was a scramble for a loose ball with the Pirates ahead by three points. Miller called time out to ensure Cedar Creek would not lose possession.
"We have a lot of freshmen on the floor," Cedar Creek coach Francine Raph said. "She has varsity experience. She's a great leader on the court, and it really helps us to have that with such a young team."
Both the Pirates and Cape May Tech played at a fast pace. Cape May Tech, which finished 3-19 last year, looked much improved over last season with 6-foot senior forward Kerry Player (26 points, 11 rebounds) and freshman point guard Lauryn Fields (14 points).
Still, the Pirates led from the middle of the second quarter on.
Miller was the reason why. She scored on post moves and after grabbing offensive rebounds.
Cape May Tech made several runs at Cedar Creek.
The Hawks began the fourth quarter with a 13-3 run. Fields sank a 3-pointer from the left wing to tie the score at 54 with 3 minutes, 8 seconds left in the game.
Cedar Creek immediately responded. Morgan Stefanski, a 5-8 freshman, sank a 3-pointer to give Cedar Creek the lead back.
It was Stefanski's only 3-pointer of the game. She is one of quadruplet sisters who play for Cedar Creek. Mikila, Monique and Mercina Stefanski also play for the Pirates.
"It was surprising," said Morgan, who came off the bench to score 10 points and grab seven rebounds. "I normally don't make that shot, but if I'm open I take it."
The 3-pointer began a 9-2 run. Miller scored two baskets during the surge, including a layup off a pass from Morgan with 1:55 left to give the Pirates a seven-point lead.
Cape May Tech never got closer than five points the rest of the way.
The Cedar Creek students at the game cheered loudly from the start. They good-naturedly heckled Cape May Tech foul shooters and chanted "MVP, MVP" at Wilson.
Fans and parents congratulated the Pirates after the win.
"I'm glad our first game was a win," Miller said.
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