WILMINGTON – Some may liken Wilmington seniors Alex Miller and Cameron Stewart to George Harrison and Ringo Starr, Beatles playing in the shadows of their more notable band mates. Hurricane head coach Mike Noszka isn’t one of them.
And he’s emphatic nobody else should, either.
“Alex is a difference maker. Cameron is a difference maker,” Nozska said with conviction after the Hurricane beat Moeller to advance to the regional final.
Noszka continued the conversation after Wilmington beat Centerville to advance to the Final Four.
“He’s a leader. They don’t make kids much better than Alex Miller. He’s a top student in the school, and one of the best kids in the school,” he said.
For all involved, Miller’s absence Friday due to injury is heartbreaking.
“It’s not fair,” Noszka said. “This is a little bit of a downer.”
Nearly a week after Miller injured his right arm — he hurt his left arm during football season — the Hurricane has had time to adjust to his absence and allow their wounds to heal.
“It’s no fun when someone goes down like that, but it’s next man up,” Stewart said. “We’ll pray for him but we still have to play, we still have a state championship to play for.”
Even with his classmate and friend on the bench, Stewart will be leading the way as the Hurricane tries to win one for Alex.
“Cameron’s always had a ton of talent. He can jump, he can run, he’s fast, he’s quick, he’s got good basketball IQ, he sees the floor, he’s tough-minded. He’s been part of it for four years. He’s worked his way up. I think he’s even going to lead more going into this week.”
These sentiments are shared by Wilmington head football coach Scott Killen who coached both Miller and Stewart.
“Alex is one of the greatest young men I’ve had the pleasure to coach. He is the kid that will do whatever you want and never complain. He has such a positive attitude and his biggest asset is his loyalty to his friends and teammates,” Killen said. “Cam is a huge competitor. He hates to lose at anything, whether it is in practice, a game, or video games. He is a very selfless teammate. He will do whatever it takes to win.”
Of course one could say their coaches are biased, but a rival coach also raved about the duo.
“Alex is the hardest worker on the floor every second of the game. He does all of the dirty work. His energy and effort make everyone else work harder. He always gets loose balls or rebounds when they have to have one. He brings intensity that everyone else feeds off. Defensively, Alex can defend much bigger players,” said former Clinton-Massie boys basketball coach Dustin Eads. “Cam is a very well-rounded player. He has a very high basketball IQ. He is able to read things that allow him to set teammates up for easy baskets. He can shoot the ball. He helps create turnovers defensively. His on-the-ball defense disrupts anything the team tries to do. Other guards don’t like going against Cam.”
Stewart and the Hurricane will face a tall order in the state semifinal versus a Lima Senior lineup that features four Associated Press all-Northwest District selections, including Michigan-bound Mr. Basketball Xavier Simpson.
Shawn Robinson covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @twinzdad01.