Friday, Dec 21 2012 11:06 AM

Lady Braves win Liberty Tourney and honor Miller for making championship possible

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The Lady Braves surprised Robbi Miller and the TUSD transportation staff with their championship plaque as appreciation in helping them win the Liberty Tournament. Pictured from left to right are TUSD staff members Laura Gonzales, Julie Coryell, Ron Welling, Robbi Miller, Erin Nicola, Sara Ferry, Debbie Coleman, Kelly Maddox, Denise Rivera, Jennifer Jones, Merryl Trapp, Bonnie Collins, Shanna Wold, Karen Romo and Gayle Lee. Lady Braves team members include Coach Clint Cass, Elayna Cramer, Shelby Ricker, Brooke Boyd, Cozette Kenyon, Andrea Flores, Brooke Langston, Liza Sanchez, Madeleine Cass, Brandi Davidson, Kiera Peck, Daisy Moran, Angelika Kroeger and Leja Jakstaite.

The Lady Braves recently accomplished a monumental feat in basketball, thanks in part to a little help from a guardian angel in the transportation department.

Tehachapi (6-0) bested the elite teams in Bakersfield earlier this month, winning the Liberty Tournament with an improbable victory over highly touted Liberty in the championship game, 26-24 in overtime.

But as thrilling as the championship win was, it almost never came to fruition when the basketball team accidently locked the keys in their vehicle during a pre-game meal with less than two hours before game tip-off.

Enter the Lady Braves guardian angel, TUSD transportation employee Robbi Miller.

“We were really in a tight spot and it was extremely stressful,” said head coach Clint Cass. “Our keys and the girl’s uniforms were stuck in the van. A police officer came by and tried to open the door but couldn’t. We needed someone quick to help us and Robbi didn’t hesitate.”

Miller drove down to Bakersfield to unlock the van minutes before the scheduled game start time and made only one modest request as the coaches and girls rode away, “win the game”.
And win they did, shocking one of the best teams in the central section.

“Robbi’s our hero. There was a good chance that if Robbi doesn’t show up, they just cancel the game,” added Cass. “I’m pretty sure that they wouldn’t have rescheduled. It would probably have been a forfeit for our team and a huge let down. But we just made it to the gym on time, thanks to Robbi. She’s our most valuable player without a doubt.”

Angelika Kroeger was the high scorer in the 26-24 overtime win over Liberty with eight points, followed by Brandi Davidson and Brooke Boyd with six points each. Maddie Cass also had four points and Shelby Ricker recorded a basket.

Earlier in the day, the Lady Braves also had a thrilling semifinal 20-19 win over Independence, with Boyd scoring 10 points, Davidson six points and Cass four points, with Ricker providing stellar all-around defense.

After winning their championship, the Lady Braves made the decision that it was befitting to give their championship plaque to Miller and the transportation staff.

Miller, who has been employed with the transportation department since 1990, was surprised with a plaque presentation at the TUSD bus barn last Wednesday.

"I could not believe how many girls in uniforms and warm-ups walked through the door," said Miller. "They brought tears of joy to my eyes, it was awesome."

All of the girls and coaches signed the plaque, which will be proudly be displayed in the transportation office.

"The girls played hard and played their best, (Clint) Cass coached well and we were able to deliver the keys to get the girls their uniforms," added Miller. "It was a team effort."

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