Kearny’s Angela Steel passes to a teammate in the Komets' win over Christian.
Harmoni Miller is Kearny High’s top rebounder, but through three quarters she had just three boards.
When it counted in the fourth quarter, however, Miller came up big with nine rebounds, one of the main reasons the Komets were able to hold off Christian and beat the clock for a 49-47 victory Tuesday night.
It took some anxious moments before Miller and her teammates could enjoy a Central League title.
Kearny had squandered almost all of a 12-point lead with six minutes to play as the Patriots had one last chance to send the basketball game into overtime. With the crowd on its feet, Christian put up a shot with a second to play, but it bounced out. The Patriots tossed up a wild follow as whistles blew.
While everyone seemed to hold their breath, the officials conferred with the scorer’s table. It was determined time had expired, and the foul was waved off, setting off a Komets celebration.
“I knew how much the game meant to the team and me, too, since I’m a senior, so I just went down low in the fourth quarter and tried to get rebounds,” said Miller, who at 5-feet-8 is no giant but is strong and a large presence under the hoop.
This was the third meeting of the two teams with each game closer than the previous one.
There were times when Christian fell double figures behind, but with Jillian Sexton scoring 17 points — 10 in the fourth quarter — and 6-2 Chayan Lowery adding 16, the Patriots refused to back down. Sexton’s 3-pointer with 17 seconds to play made it a two-point game.
Miller, who finished with 13 points to go with her dozen rebounds, teamed with Sage Brown and Aitana Garland, both of whom scored 12, to hold off the Patriots, giving Kearny its fourth league title in five years and a first for head coach Bracy Smith.
“Harmoni was big in the fourth quarter,” said Smith, who quickly joined his team’s revelry.
With the victory, the Komets move to 12-7 overall and 10-1 in league with a game remaining. Christian falls to 11-10 and 9-3, concluding the regular season.