MARLBOROUGH – Just to put the story to rest, no, Marlborough High School guard Bella Miele was not born with a basketball in her hands. That would be silly.
On the other hand, that story about Bella Miele picking up a basketball at age 7 and not putting it down for the next eight years …?
“I think I just picked up a basketball one day and I just loved it so much. I couldn’t stop dribbling it,” said Miele.
The MHS freshman has exploded onto the Central Massachusetts high school hoops scene with an historic rookie season. Miele is averaging 22.0 points a game as a rookie, tops in the Mid-Wach and third best in central Massachusetts.
She has yet to be held below 12 points, has topped 20 points 11 times and had a career-best of 33 against Mid-Wach B powerhouse Shepherd Hill back in January.
Through 17 games, the 5-4 point guard has racked up 374 points, putting her on pace to smash the Panthers’ all-time scoring record for male or female athletes of 1,374 points, set by MHS legend Stacy Sullivan (class of 1989).
Most amazing about Miele’s offensive prowess is her style of play. She is an old-school point guard who enjoys racking up assists just as much as scoring. While many young players are obsessed with launching three-pointers from behind the arc, Miele relishes slashing through the paint among the giants. A typical drive will either result in a basket, free throws (she shoots 80 percent from the line) or a dish off to an open teammate.
“If someone is open and they are double-teaming her, or if someone has a better shot than she does, then she is happy to give it up,” said Marlborough coach Sean Mahoney. “She does it naturally. It’s part of her makeup.”
Miele’s talent and style of play have brought out the best in her teammates. Liz Johnson and Meghan Deneen are solid scoring threats, making sure teams can’t focus all their attention on Miele. As a result, the Panthers have been improving through the season.
After starting the season 2-4, the Panthers won seven of their last nine games to clinch a berth in the Division 2 State Tournament.
“We weren’t very good early on, but we have gotten better and getting the state tournament experience will be an important part of our development,” said Mahoney.
Miele doesn’t come from a basketball family. Her parents didn’t play and her older brother played briefly before turning to other pursuits.
Her passion for the game has grown organically, a love affair that began the first time she picked up a ball and bounced it on the court. The rhythmic melody of a leather coated ball smacking against a hardwood floor, the squeaking harmonies of rubber-soled hightops and accent notes provided by the sweet swoosh of a perfect shot compose the soundtrack of her life.
After cutting her teeth in youth leagues at the Marlborough Boys and Girls Club, Miele advanced to Amateur Athletic Union travel teams, playing in tournaments with and against the top players in her age group and sometimes above. She will be playing her second season with the Boston-based Huskies team this summer.
Playing against elite level competition in the AAU program had Miele fully prepared for facing older opponents on the high school level.
“When I play club (AAU), I sometimes play up a grade or two, so I’m kind of used to that,” she said.
Miele played on the Marlborough High School junior varsity team as an eighth grader, giving Mahoney a good idea of what he could expect when she moved up.
“We knew how talented she was,” said Mahoney. “With someone that talented and that young, the future is definitely bright.”