JC’s Elisha Milam (40) shoots for two of her 51 points during a 1981 game against Cloudland. Before Milam graduated in that Spring, she put up some big numbers on the hardwood begging the question, was she the best ladies’ basketball player that’s ever played at JCHS? File photos.
By Tim Chambers
I had someone ask me recently if there had ever been a good girl’s basketball player to ever suit up for the Longhorns. My first thought was three seniors, Natalie Winters, Taylor Cox, and Taylor Parsons, who helped set a school record with 23 wins in 2019. Two girls that played this year are Sadie Stout and Emmy Miller, who also played a key role on the record-setting team. But none of those could come close to matching the accomplishments that one Lady Longhorn made 36 years ago.
Elisha Milam is the greatest girl’s basketball player ever to wear maroon and white and could be one of the best ever to play high school basketball.The lanky lefty was a joy to watch for all those who got to see her play. She graduated in 1981 as the all time leading scorer in school history and was voted twice to the All-State team. Milam’s number 40 was retired, and rightly so.
Try this on for size. Not only was Milam a stud basketball player, but she also was in volleyball. She led her team to the school’s only state tournament with a regular-season record of 31-0. Milam played on the first girl’s middle school team in Johnson County after playing on the boys’ team during her elementary days. She hated the girls’ game at first because they played three on three where the offensive players couldn’t cross half-court, but all that changed after her freshman season.
She started playing 5-of-5 which was right up her alley, and that’s when the eye-popping numbers started to show up. Milam averaged 22 points per game as a sophomore and 31.7 points per contest as a junior. All this came before the three-point line was ever adopted.
Milam once told me, “I practiced every day on my game; I was always shooting. I loved basketball, and I still do. The competition is what drove me.”
She once scored 44 points, 22 in each half against Sullivan East, but that wasn’t her best effort. Milam topped 50 points twice in her career, including a 51 point outing against South Green, who played in the state tournament and won several. She once said that beating Hampton was her greatest win, and beating Happy valley was also special. She gave credit to her teammates, Ann Wills and Denise Green, for making her career more successful. Tracy Snyder, Margaret Humphreys, and Denise Bellamy were other players that I remember did well. Milam scored 46 points one night, playing on a severely sprained ankle.
“I wasn’t going to sit down and not play,” she said. I wasn’t going to give my spot up to anyone.”
The Longhorns played only seven players, for the most part, that season. Milam, Green, and Wills were joined in the starting lineup by Tracy Snyder and Mary Jo Simcox. Margaret Humphreys and Denise Bellamy provided excellent play off the bench. So who was the best to ever play girls’ basketball at Johnson County? You tell me. It’s Milam.