BINGHAM — You’ve seen this Miller name on the Valley boys basketball roster before. Five times before, actually. But when senior Collin Miller, a 6-foot-1 forward, steps off the court for the last time in a Cavaliers uniform when Saturday’s Class D state championship game is over, you won’t see this branch of the Miller tree play for Valley again. Collin is the last of six Miller brothers to play basketball for the Cavaliers.

“They’ve all left a big spot to be filled by me, with the Miller name. They’ve all done well for themselves,” Collin Miller said. “I’ve definitely had a lot I’ve had to live up to.”

Averaging 12 points and 10 rebounds per game, Miller has been a key player for Valley all season, and will be one of the team’s leaders when it takes on Easton in the Class D state championship game Saturday afternoon at the Augusta Civic Center.

“Most people know his brothers were fantastic basketball players here. They created a legacy he’s tried to live up to. I think he’s more concerned with right now, trying to win a state championship,” Valley coach Luke Hartwell said. “I’ve coached him, as well as Cody (Laweryson) and Luke (Malloy) for six, seven years, since middle school. He just comes to practice every day with a great work ethic and a great attitude.”

First there was Craig Miller, then Chris, and Curtis, and Cameron, and most recently Carrington, who scored his 1,000th career point at Central Maine Community College earlier this season and was a senior when Collin joined the Cavs as a freshman. Wade Morrill, Valley’s coach that season, pushed Collin hard.

“(Morrill) had a high standard for me, because Carrington was one of the better players on the team. He’d always have something to yell at me for. A lot of times they called me Butterfingers because I couldn’t catch (Carrington’s) bullet passes,” Miller said. “It really helped me get to where I am now, because I was playing with a lot higher level guys. It really helped form my skills.”

Collin was a kid when the Miller family got a basketball hoop at their home.

“We had a dirt driveway, but my Dad always told us it would make us better basketball handlers,” Miller, who plans on joining the Navy after graduation, said. “It was definitely a lot of fun. There was a lot of heated games in the driveway, a lot of rocks thrown, stuff like that.”

Unlike his brothers, who played on the perimeter and were slashers offensively, Collin is a low post staple for the Cavs. As one of the bigger kids in his class growing up, Collin always found himself playing inside, and he came to love the post game.

“He’s an excellent rebounder. He’s got a great knack for the ball. He’s an undersized post player, but he does a great job of sealing his man and getting in rebounding position,” Hartwell said.

By his own admittance, Collin has struggled to score around the rim in recent games, but it hasn’t hurt his post defense. In the Class D South regional final, he defended Seacoast Christian’s 6-3 center Tim Yeaton. Yeaton scored 18 points in a quarterfinal win over Vinalhaven and 17 in the semifinals against Islesboro. Collin held the bigger Yeaton to eight points while scoring 14 with seven rebounds himself. Miller went 5 for 6 at the line in the second half, helping the Cavs pull away in a tight game.

“He’s really improved on his post defense these last few games, and we’re going to need him even more so for Saturday’s game,” Hartwell said. “What I love about Collin is, he gives you absolutely everything he has. More importantly, he’s become a more vocal leader. When games get tight, he’s one of those guys who stays poised the entire time. With senior captains, that’s what you need.”

Hartwell calls Miller “a double-double machine.” Miller credits working with Hartwell and his twin brother Jason, an assistant coach with Valley, in practice for his improved defense.

“They get the pads out in practice and they go right at me, and I go right at them,” Miller said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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