BRADFORD — An already great year of basketball for Michayla Barga got even better on Thursday as the Bradford senior signed her letter of intent to play college basketball for Cincinnati State Technical and Community College.
Barga, the daughter of Sandra Miller, helped lead the Lady Railroaders to a record-breaking season as a senior. The team won a program-record 20 games and won its first Ohio High School Athletic Association sectional tournament championship.
The Bradford senior attributed her team’s success as a reason why she is able to continue her basketball career at the college level.
“I can’t even explain it, the feelings,” Barga said. “It’s just hard to wrap your head around it because we were so successful and because of it I feel like that’s why I’m able to move on.”
Cincinnati State women’s basketball coach Sonya Beeler became interested in Barga when Bradford girls basketball coach Patrick McKee emailed her to tell her about some of the Lady Railroaders’ players.
“As soon as I saw her play I knew she would fit perfectly into what we do at Cincinnati State,” Beeler said. “I like her personality, and she’s a good student, and those are all the things that I’m looking for.”
Barga and Beeler were in contact during the high school basketball season, but the recruiting really picked up this month, Barga said, when she visited the Cincinnati State campus and played in an open gym.
“We talked the whole basketball season, but I just went to a college visit like last week, early last week,” Barga said. “I really like the team. We really bonded. We spent the whole day together, and they were just like me. I felt like I fit in. And the campus was big, which is why I liked it.”
Barga, who plans to study early childhood education in college, said it didn’t feel real until she signed her letter of intent on Thursday.
“It’s extremely exciting,” she said. “It didn’t seem real until now.”
It’s great for the Bradford girls basketball program to have a player continue her career at the college level, McKee said.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “It’s really every coach’s dream. That really tells me that the girls are starting to buy in to the program and the sport in general and they really do love this sport. It’s definitely a dream come true to have this first athlete move on to the next level.”
Both Bradford and Cincinnati State run a fast-paced system, which will help Barga’s transition to the college game.
“I like her spunk and the way that she pushes the ball,” Beeler said. “She’s going to fit very well into our system because we run a very high-paced, fast-paced, up and down the floor, run and gun kind of offense, and she’ll fit perfectly into what we’re doing.”
Barga will play both point guard and shooting guard for the Cincinnati State Surge, a National Junior College Athletic Association Division II program. The team has made the NJCAA national tournament three times in the past four seasons.
“I love the way that she runs the point and handles herself at point guard, but we’re also going to make her into a shooting guard as well because in our system the one and the two and interchangeable just because whoever gets the ball, outlets it and runs down the floor first gets the layup,” Beeler said.
With Cincinnati State running a similar system to Bradford, McKee said, he’s confident Barga will succeed at the college level.
“They run a very similar style to us,” McKee said. “It’s all about getting up the floor, and she’s going to fit in real well in that system. So far from what I’ve seen between her and coach Beeler is that they’re working well together, and that’s exciting to see.”
Helping Barga to succeed in college will be her love for the game, willingness to learn and her hustle, McKee said.
“I’m very confident that’s why she was sitting in that chair today, is just her love for the game and her hustle,” he said. “She’s going to do a great job there.”
Barga also said she feels confident in her ability to adjust to the college game.
“They’re really fast paced, and that’s exactly how our offense was ran last year,” she said. “So I don’t feel like too much is going to change between their offense and ours. It’s not going to be a hard adjustment.”
With a fast-paced system, Beeler said, players can’t play for long periods of time without needing a break. That will allow Barga to earn playing time right away for the Surge.
“It’s all up to how hard she works, and I think that she is a hard worker from what I saw,” Beeler said. “As long as she continues to have that attitude and work really hard in the weight room and in conditioning, she’ll get playing time, absolutely.”