Millikan girls’ basketball coach Lorene Morgan knows her team’s chances at a CIF Southern Section or a CIF State championship will come down to the way they play defense. If Thursday night’s running clock win over Norco in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 2AA playoffs was any indication, the Rams have a lot to be excited about. Their defense and full-court pressure was stifling in a 73-37 victory.
“We got to play a lot of man, press a lot, it’s good for us to get better at those things,” said Morgan.
The win was a Long Beach milestone of sorts for Morgan, who got win No. 562 at Millikan.
While Morgan and senior captain Emily Newkirk expressed some frustration at a slow start for the Rams, the truth is Millikan led comfortably after the first quarter, 24-8.
“It took us some time to settle in,” said Morgan. “We were missing a lot of shots.”
The Rams pulled away even further in the second half thanks to Newkirk, who had 10 of the team’s first 12 points of the third quarter as part of an 11-2 run for Millikan.
“Our defense is what’s going to win us games,” said Newkirk. “I think we can go far if we can keep focusing defensively.”
Newkirk finished with 12 points in the win. Vanessa Smith had 15 points to lead Millikan, backed up by 14 points from Leslie Garcia.
Millikan (25-3) will host Walnut in the second round on Saturday at 7 p.m.