CORVALLIS – Danaeja Romero-Ah Sam was focused on one goal more than any other this year – winning the state title that slipped away last season. She knew this season had to be different and would require more help – which came in the form of sophomore transfer JB Robinson.
“She’s definitely the biggest asset on defense, and on offense she knows where to put the ball,” Romero-Ah Sam said. “It’s always been like that, and she works hard no matter what.”
With the aggressive play of Robinson and star-power of Romero-Ah Sam, the Millers rolled through the state playoffs. In the quarterfinals Romero-Ah-Sam led the way with 15 points, while Robinson had 7 points, 4 assists and 4 steals. The semifinals were all Robinson, who finished with 25 points and 9 steals, while Romero-Ah Sam chipped in 11 points and 4 steals. The 1-2 punch was on full display in the championship game, Romero-Ah Sam leading the way with 17 points and 6 steals, Robinson following up with 16 points and 3 steals. Romero-Ah Sam also crossed over the 1,000 career point mark in the championship win.
Perhaps the biggest stat from the finals wasn’t on the Springfield side though. In last year’s final without Robinson, Crescent Valley star Gabby Bland had 31 points. In this year’s finals while being guarded mostly by Robinson, Bland finished with 7.
“We knew JB would guard the best guard in every game here,” said Joe Williamson, Springfield coach. “She shut everybody down. 7 points is a lot different than 31. She’s amazing. She’s really a legit high-level defender with a lot of energy. We feed off of her.”
It may not have been as personal for Robinson as the rest of the team, but the chance to play on the big stage was something she had wanted from her experience in Georgia.
“Last year, my team got out in the Sweet 16, and I’ve never played on a big stage like this,” Robinson said after the Crater game. “I feel like everything we’ve been working on since I’ve picked up a basketball is coming into play now.”
While Romero-Ah Sam and Robinson clicked right away, it still took some time for them to fully mesh. When they finally hit their stride, there was no catching them.
“It’s been great. I feel like every team kind of goes through some moments where they’re trying to figure out who they are,” said Springfield AD Audrea Shelley, who attended most of the team’s games this year. “I feel like they hit the top right at the end. They just started playing together, and playing great defense. I couldn’t be more proud. They’re awesome.”
The scariest part of all of this for other teams in Class 5A? The Millers might just be getting started. Romero-Ah Sam is a junior, and Robinson’s only a sophomore.
“They’re amazing,” Williamson said. “I hope we’re not done. I hope this is the start.”