Maranacook standout Christine Miller was the Kennebec Journal Girls Basketball Player of the Year in 2014. Any Molloy/Kennebec Journal

Editor’s note: This is the latest installment of our series, “Catching Up With,” in which we catch up with some people we’ve covered over the last few decades.

Christine Miller was no average center for the Maranacook girls basketball team.

In four seasons with the Black Bears, Miller scored more than 1,2000 points. She was a two-time Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B Player of the Year. During the 2014-2015 season, she led Maranacook to a KVAC championship, a Western Class C title, and the first state final appearance in program history.

But it was done with more than just post play. Miller could shoot from the perimeter. She could rebound. In her senior year, she led the Black Bears in steals and assists.  In fact, post play was the weakest part of Miller’s game entering high school.

“Coach (Jeannine) Paradis was like ‘We have to have you (in the post), because you can rebound), play defense on the other big girls,'” Miller said. “Where I was more comfortable was on the perimeter. That was my game in AAU, I was more a driver, shooter, that was my position. Coach Paradis kind of morphed me into this center. I wasn’t always so tough down there, but I remember her doing specific drills for me that really toughened me up. Post defense, boxing out, stuff like that. I think she had a big part in transferring me into a center, but I always loved being on the perimeter. I remember she would be like ‘You have to show yourself in the post, and then I’m going to let you out and have more freedom (offensively).’ By the time I was a senior, I pretty much had all the freedom to do whatever I thought was best at the time.”

“Christine is just a very smart all-around basketball player,” Paradis told the Kennebec Journal in 2015, after Miller won the KJ player of the year award. “She doesn’t just play one position. She can play many, depending upon how teams played us. If they were bigger, I could move her outside to give her more range to work in.”

The Maranacook program progressed throughout Miller’s career, going as far as the Western Class B preliminaries in 2013 and the Western Class C semifinals in 2014. During the 2014-2015 season — Miller’s senior year — she averaged 17 points  and 7 rebounds a game. Entering the Western Class C playoffs as the No. 1 seed, the Black Bears rolled through Carrabec (50-34) in the quarterfinals and Mountain Valley (64-29) in the semifinals. Maranacook clinched its first regional title with a 47-37 win over Dirigo at the Augusta Civic Center. Miller scored 10 points in the victory and was named the top player for the tournament.

“(The run) was really special for us,” Miller said. “The women’s basketball team, after Toby Martin, really went downhill. Continuous losing seasons where they might have only won, like, two games or something like that. Coach Paradis, transitioning (the program), she was kind of like ‘We’re going to rebuild this entire program.’ Her first year was my first year, my freshman year. I think it just brought a different mentality. It was a goal of ours to flip the switch and (have) girls basketball is something that’s important at this school, it’s not just a team we have to have. It was really special.”

Maranacook forward Christine Miller drives to the basket during a 2015 against Mountain Valley at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The Black Bears would meet Houlton in the Class C final at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. Tied 30-30 at halftime, the Shiretowners pulled ahead for good in the third quarter and prevailed 59-51. Miller scored 31 points, including five 3-pointers, a championship game record. She fouled out of the game late in the fourth quarter.

“There’s two things I remember very vividly,” Miller said. “Before the game, just me and my team in the locker room, just the vibe, it was such a special day for us. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that feeling in the locker room with all of them. The other thing, I don’t remember much of the game, but I do remember the end, when I fouled out. I just remember being so frantic, knowing that we needed to foul. I knew I had four fouls, and no one else was fouling. I was just like ‘I’m just going to do it.’ I do remember it was a really competitive game, up until those last few minutes. It was really hard to foul out, sit on the bench the last few minutes. But it all happens for a reason. It was a brand new court to us. I think we were a little frazzled. But it’s a good memory. It’s good.”

“I honestly didn’t even remember the five 3-pointers,” Miller added.

Miller went on to play 2 1/2 years of college ball at Division III Emmanuel College in Boston. Midway through her junior season, Miller — who had grown tired of a shifting role and having her college experience revolve around basketball — decided to walk away from the game and focus on her studies.

Former Maranacook girls basketball player Christine Miller, seen here hiking during a recent trip in Austria, is now enrolled in graduate school at Boston College and working at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston as a patient care technician. Contributed photo/Christine Miller

“I struggled with this roller-coaster of emotions,” Miller said. “All of my time, when I wasn’t working out, I was thinking about or talking about (basketball) with my teammates. My whole entire college experience was this. We were in California, and it was our second game, and I played really well. After the game, we’re sitting in the locker room, and (my coach) came in and was like ‘That’s exactly what I want you to do!’ And I just kind of knew, right in that moment, I was like, ‘I’m quitting.’

“It was a super volatile situation,” Miller said. “I wasn’t happy, and I realized that. I was like, ‘What am I going to do after this?’ Oh yeah, I want to be in the medical field, and I have no experience. What am I doing? So I quit, and I got two jobs, and then I started taking night classes. I started working in a hospital, and I’ve been there ever since, and I’m in grad school. I feel like it really worked out the way it was supposed to. If I had kept playing, my hospital experience, maybe I wouldn’t have gotten into school, because I wouldn’t have had any experience.”

Miller, who now lives in Salem, Massachusetts, earned her biochemistry degree at Emmanuel, and is currently enrolled in graduate school at Boston College. While taking classes, Miller works at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center as a patient care technician. She wants to eventually become a nurse practitioner.

“I commute to BC a couple days a week, I can get there in about an hour,” Miller said. “I also go into (Massachusetts) General Hospital once a week, taking the train. I also go to Newton-Wellesley Hospital once a week, I drive there. So, it’s a lot of traveling, and it’s really busy, but it’s been great so far.”

 

Dave Dyer — 621-5610

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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