Mills shines in new starting role
Loyola's Tyra Mills gets past Fenwick's Eva Brundage and pushes the ball upcourt during their game in Wilmette on Nov. 29. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 7, 2013 6:44AM
WILMETTE — The Loyola girls basketball team has likely found its point guard of the future — unfortunately, the discovery came at the expense of one of the team’s best players.
Senior Anna Schueler, a three-year varsity veteran, tore the meniscus in her left knee Nov. 23 in the Ramblers’ 42-41 win over Bogan and is out indefinitely.
Sophomore Tyra Mills, who played off the bench in Loyola’s first three games, started the following day and scored a career-best 20 points in the 45-43 loss to New Trier.
“I was not nervous at all,” she said. “I had the mindset that I was going to play my game, and it worked out.”
Loyola coach Jeremy Schoenecker said he never underestimated Mills’ ability, but had been giving her time to adjust to varsity competition until the injury changed his plans. Before the New Trier game, she averaged about eight minutes a game, mostly used to give the guards a breather.
“We knew how talented she was,” said Schoenecker, who guided the Ramblers to fourth place in Class 4A last season. “She’s also confident in herself.”
Schoenecker said Mills was impressive in her varsity debut.
“She was breaking the press by herself, hitting some shots under pressure,” he said. “She ran the half-court offense well, making many of the correct reads.”
Mills played on the freshman level a year ago and wasn’t a lock to be called up to varsity. But Schoenecker said he and his staff figured they could use her at times and allow her to get comfortable on the bigger stage.
“My role was to come in and give the team energy and be a playmaker as well as give it my all on defense,” Mills said. “I think I am a well-rounded player, but I really enjoy defense. Defense fuels the offense, and it gets the team going.”
Schoenecker predicted the Ramblers would become a stronger team once Schueler returns to the court.
“Tyra’s going to be playing a bunch of minutes now, and the ball is going to be in her hands a lot,” said Schoenecker, whose club dropped to 4-2 with a 74-63 loss to Fenwick on Nov. 29. “That’s only going to make us better in the long run.”