Drawing parallels

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

One dad admits to mentioning it a time or two. The other dad? Not so much.

Back in the day, when Ronald Reagan was president and Villanova upset Georgetown to win the NCAA title, the Rexford-Golden Plains boys' basketball team also won a championship. The Bulldogs edged Pretty Prairie 44-42 in the title game to win the Class 1A state championship at Gross Memorial Coliseum.

That was in 1985. Fast forward 28 years, and Mike Miller and Parker Christensen are back.

Christensen, now the girls' coach at Golden Plains, is pacing the floor in front of his bench in Wednesday night's first round of the Class 1A Division II state tournament in GMC. Miller is sitting a few feet away from him, keeping the team's scorebook.

Miller was a referee for 25 years, but gave it up to watch his daughter, Kami, play for the Bulldogs this season. Kami, a 5-foot-4 freshman, starts at point guard for the Bulldogs, now 21-2 after a 58-43 win Wednesday over Hope.

"I get more nervous now than when I played," Mike Miller said.

Kami said when her father mentions the 1985 team, he encourages her.

"He just says I can do it, too," she said. "He knows that I have it in me; it's in my blood."

Mike Miller said this girls' team reminds him of the title-winning boys' squad, which didn't have any stars, but the players relied on each other. He went on to play football for two years at Fort Hays State University, while Parker Christensen played basketball for a season at Colby Community College.

"We were just a team," Mike Miller said. "We never really depended on just one person. On any given night, anybody would step up. We just played well together.

"That's one thing that this team really resembles (the 1985 team), as far as the girls really play well together."

Mike Miller was a starting guard on the '85 team; Christensen played forward and was the leading scorer. And now, Christensen's daughter, Jordan, also is a forward and is the leading scorer on this season's team. The 5-10 junior finished with a double-double against Hope, scoring 11 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

Parker Christensen admits being a little tougher on his daughter than the other players.

"She knows I'm going to be a little bit harder on her than maybe the other girls because of the high expectations I have for her," he said. "It's really rewarding because she works so hard; she does everything we ask."

After Wednesday's victory, Golden Plains is just two wins away from a state title -- from Jordan and Kami matching what their fathers accomplished.

"I kind of just put it in the back of my mind," Jordan said. "We're just going to take it game-by-game and go from there."

"It would be nice to get that to happen again," said Jordan's father.

Up next for Golden Plains is Norwich (23-1) in Friday's 6:30 p.m. semifinals.

"One down, two to go," Parker Christensen said. "It's survive and advance right now."

"It would mean the world to me," Kami Miller said of winning a state title, just like her dad. "That would be awesome."

After winning sub-state to advance to the state tournament, the players were taken out to dinner.

"I told them there's only one feeling that tops this," Mike Miller said, "and that's winning state."