Jonathan Alder led 12-11 after the first quarter, but the Braves fought back to tie the score at 24 on a putback by sophomore Zion Crowe with thirty seconds remaining in the first half.
The Pioneers went on a 6-0 run to start the third quarter, forcing a Shawnee timeout.
Miller scored seven straight points to give the Braves a 31-30 lead. The senior hit four 3-pointers in the game and scored 13 points in the second half.
“He can do a lot of things,” McGuire said. “He can attack the rim with his quickness and then when they give him space he’s a capable shooter. When he hits one or two, he kind of gets some confidence and can do that. He’s playing within the system and they have to respect these other guys around him, which makes it harder to guard him. He really hit some tough shots in that stretch.”
Shawnee pressed the Pioneers throughout the fourth quarter, allowing just seven points in the final eight minutes.
“We thought we could wear them down with some of that pressure,” McGuire said. “We were able to get some stops and get some momentum. We were able to get a lead and we thought we’d be able to build off of it. It seemed every time we got the lead up to four or five, they’d hit a shot.”
The Braves led 42-37 with less than two minutes remaining, but a 3-pointer by Jonathan Alder freshman Peyton Heiss and a putback by junior Taber Headings tied the score at 42.
Miller and sophomore R.J. Griffin each hit one of two free throws to give the Braves a 44-42 lead until Izzard’s shot put the Pioneers in the lead for good. Miller’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer fell short.
The Braves struggled at the free throw line, shooting 10-for-20 for the game.
“We’ve talked about it all year that free throws can win or lose you some games,” McGuire said. “We knew this would be a close game. You leave 10 points out there. We were 11-for-12 the first time we played them and really took advantage of it. … (Jonathan Alder) made plays when they needed to. They’re a good team, obviously 15-0 for a reason. They find ways to be able to do it.
“It hurts, it stinks, but I’m proud of my guys,” McGuire said.
The Braves returned to practice on Monday after a two-week quarantine period due to COVID-19 protocols. They beat London 75-44 on Tuesday.
The Braves will participate in the D-III tournament this year for the first time in McGuire’s tenure. The boys basketball tournament draw for all four divisions will be held this weekend.
“We’re looking forward to getting some practice in, building towards the tournament,” McGuire said. “We’ve got to get it back to where we were (before the break). It feels like you’re almost in the preseason starting over with some stuff in the preseason as much as anything. I’ll take my guys any day against a lot of teams. We’ll see what kind of run we can make.”