Girls Basketball: Ashton Millender a ‘D’-light for Marian Catholic
By Phil Brozynski For Sun-Times Media February 11, 2014 7:48PM
Everyone knows Marian Catholic’s Ashton Millender can light up a scoreboard.
The 5-foot-10 DePaul recruit scored a career-high 29 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the field in last year’s 63-39 state semifinal victory over Whitney Young. This season, she matched that effort in a 75-59 win over Rolling Meadows at the McDonald’s Shootout.
And who can forget her 25-footer at the buzzer that beat Marist 54-52 in last year’s sectional final?
But what many people don’t appreciate is Millender’s stifling defense.
“Her defense goes unnoticed way too much,” Marian Catholic coach Dan Murray said. “A lot of times she’s on the other team’s best perimeter player. She does a fantastic job for us.”
In that same semifinal victory last year over Young, Millender held Kentucky-bound Linnae Harper to just nine points on 3-of-19 shooting from the floor. Millender called Harper “probably the toughest player” she’s faced.
What made defending Harper so difficult?
“Honestly, everything,” Millender said. “Her ballhandling. Her speed. Her first step. I take a lot of pride in my defense. That was probably the best game I ever played.”
Millender has been playing basketball since she was in the third grade. It wasn’t the only sport that interested her. She also competed in volleyball, softball and gymnastics. She even dabbled in cheerleading. But there was one thing that stood out about basketball.
“I liked the intensity of the sport,” she said. “Volleyball was probably my second-favorite sport. But I wasn’t that good.”
Murray and Marian Catholic certainly believe Millender made the right choice.
“She’s a real nice player, a super-hard worker,” Murray said. “She’s such a nice player on both ends of the court. She doesn’t talk a whole lot, but I like that about her. She goes about her business. That’s something you preach to your team.”
Millender is all business on the driveway, too, where she often goes one-on-one with older brother Alan Millender Jr., 21, who played at Seton and now attends Central State in Ohio, and where she shares pointers with younger brother Alec, 12.
“We play all the time,” she said, although she didn’t hesitate when asked who is better, her or her older brother.
“Me,” she said.
Millender will have to be at her best next week when Marian Catholic begins defense of its state title. Most fans are anticipating a potential sectional championship game against top-seeded Homewood-Flossmoor, but Millender refuses to look that far ahead.
“I’m taking it one game at a time,” she said, businesslike.