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Small colleges: High-scoring Chris Miller leads the way for young St. Francis

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Updated: January 9, 2013 11:22PM

There have been ups for St. Francis (11-7, 7-5 CCAC), including a stretch of five victories in six games through last Friday. And there have been downs, including a 67-66 home loss to Roosevelt (11-7, 7-6) on Tuesday.

Along the way, one of the biggest ups has been the play of sophomore point guard Chris Miller, who put up the third-highest point total in Fighting Saints’ history when he scored 41 on Saturday in a 76-66 victory over Olivet Nazarene.

“Early in the second half I got a couple of shots off, and they all went in,” said Miller, last season’s CCAC freshman of the year. “It was a close game and we were lacking scoring in other areas early in the game. So I had to step up and take big shots, and I made ’em.”

Averaging 18.3 points, 3.6 assists and 3.8 rebounds, the 5-11 Miller has scored in double figures in 17 of 18 games. That includes 23 points in the loss to Roosevelt. In the 41-pointer, Miller joined Walter Jones as the only 40-point scorers in school history. Jones did it four times, topped by 44 against Wright State in 1983.

“I play the point here and I played the point in high school [at Rockford Boylan], but I’ve always been more of a lead guard. I like to score, but I definitely distribute the ball. I like to push in ­transition.”

Transition play is a key as the Saints look to get back on track, starting tonight at Trinity ­Christian.

“We all play well together,” ­Miller said. “We’re a young team this year. The other guys kind of know it comes down to get the ball and go. That’s kind of what we’re doing. We like to get out in transition.”

Back on track

North Central has won the last three NCAA Division III championships in men’s indoor track and field. The Cardinals figure to be the hunt again, and are ranked No. 1 in the season’s first computer rankings, released Wednesday by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. Following the Cardinals are two University of Wisconsin campuses, with La Crosse at No. 2 and Oshkosh at No.3.

North Central returns eight 2012 all-Americans, including pole vault champion Josh Winder and sprinters Dionte Hackler, Bai Kabba and Mustapha Olaoye, who ran on the Division III champion 4x400-meter relay team.

The Cardinals’ women’s team also is highly ranked at No. 15, while another CCIW team, Illinois Wesleyan is No. 5. The defending national champion, Wartburg, is No. 1.

St. Xavier honored

After an 11-2 season and a semifinal appearance in the NAIA football playoffs, St. Xavier as named FieldTurf Team of the Year at the American Football Coaches Association convention in Nashville, Tenn. FieldTurf, a leading manufacturer of artificial turf, gives the awards to recognize teams at all levels that show a passion for the game along with dedication to team play.

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