This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
In the final minute of the second quarter Saturday, Salt Lake Community College's Monique Mills stole the ball and assisted Dominique Mills for a layup. Monique then made another steal and missed a jump shot, with her twin sister tipping in the rebound.
The Bruins' closing flurry of the half powered them to a 73-52 victory over Snow College and illustrated how this team is just a little bit different than SLCC's nationally ranked clubs of the recent past. SLCC is 22-1 and ranked No. 4 in the NJCAA, thanks to more athletic ability and offensive creativity.
The Mills twins, the 5-foot-10 daughters of Silas Mills, a former Utah State player and current SLCC men's assistant coach, have added new dimensions to coach Betsy Specketer's program in her 20th season. Graduates of Juan Diego Catholic High School, the sisters are part of a diverse team with players from Bulgaria, Sweden, Idaho, Nevada and other Salt Lake Valley schools in the rotation.
As freshman guards, the sisters have "really just scratched the surface," Specketer said. "They're just going to continue to get better. Hopefully, we can keep them for another year and watch them continue to grow."
Specketer takes her team to a November tournament in Midland, Texas, where the Bruins usually are competitive but occasionally are overwhelmed by their opponents' speed and athleticism. Not this season. SLCC won all three games against Texas teams, including a 53-52 defeat of Trinity Valley CC.
"We kind of knew right then that this group could hang with some of the top teams in the country," said Specketer, who won more than 400 games in her first 18 years at the school.
That loss to SLCC remains Trinity Valley's only defeat. TVCC is now ranked No. 1. The Bruins held that spot for four weeks, before committing 24 turnovers in a 64-53 loss at College of Southern Idaho. SLCC will have a rematch with CSI in Scenic West Athletic Conference play Saturday in Taylorsville, after hosting North Idaho on Thursday
Specketer's teams traditionally have been known for their discipline, relying on execution to score. These players turn steals into transition opportunities and can create their own shots when necessary, unlike "any team I've ever had," Specketer said. "I've just got to let go."
Tilar Clark, a sophomore guard from Idaho Falls, leads the Bruins with a 15.8 scoring average. After her 28-point game against Snow, Monique Mills is up to 15.4 points. They're the only double-figures scorers, but SLCC has depth and balance in a nine-player rotation that should make the Bruins genuine contenders in the NJCAA tournament, March 14-19 at Lubbock, Texas.
Iva Georgieva (8.4), a guard who's from Bulgaria via Southern Utah University, is the No. 3 scorer. Dominique Mills comes off the bench, as does Elsa Paulsson Glantz, a forward from Sweden. Other key players include Utah products Sydnee Taylor (Skyline/SUU), Ma'ata Espenisa (Highland) and Andrea Brady (Cottonwood), plus Karina Brandon of Las Vegas.