Basketball Millikan

Boys’ Basketball Preview: Millikan Rams

The562’s season previews for the 2022-23 school year are sponsored by Vertical Raise, the official team fundraising partner of The562.

Millikan won a share of the Moore League boys’ basketball title two years ago, but hasn’t won an outright league chip since 1988. This year’s Rams team is a matchup problem in the Moore League with legit bigs, as well as the scoring guards they’ve been known for under coach Curtis Boyer. 

“We’re looking good, they’re getting there,” said Boyer. “Last year it was a matter of getting them to believe in themselves. You can’t put a culture on a program overnight and it was really our first full season with Summer and Fall league and all that work. It took some time.”

The Rams got a big momentum boost–and plenty of reason to believe in themselves–from last year’s postseason. They made a run to the CIF-SS Division 3A semifinals, and qualified for the CIF State playoffs, where they won a pair of games in a historic state run for Millikan.

The bad news for Boyer was that the catalyst for a lot of that success was Kamaury Washington, an electric scorer who’s now a prep school reclassified to the class of 2023. Washington was a rare hooper at Millikan, and will be hard to replace.

The good news for Boyer? Here comes junior combo guard Donovan Desha, who had a few 30-point games last year and who can fill it up. Desha led Millikan in scoring in their season-opening win and is a threat to go off in any game.

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“He’s trying to put it all together, and he’s really consistent defensively,” said Boyer.

The Rams will have senior PG Ruben Anglo coming out of the backcourt with Desha, but what really sets this Millikan team apart and makes them an interesting matchup in the guard-dominant Moore League is their frontcourt, led by 6-10 sophomore center Jackson Cryst.

A top volleyball recruit in the 2025 class, Cryst is mobile for his size. He also said that the matchup as a big in a smaller league can be difficult in both directions.

“My matchups are honestly better against another true big, so I’m looking at it as an opportunity to better my game and become more mobile,” he said. “This year is going to come down to us playing as one unit--everybody’s playing hard, winning 50/50 balls, and closing in close games.”

Cryst said that his role as a promising freshman last year was very different from what he’ll be expected to do this year.

“Last year there was a lot on Kamaury and Donovan and the seniors, but this year especially rebounding is going to fall a lot on me,” he said.

Joining Cryst in the post will be Miles Henderson, a 6-7, 260 pound forward/center who is working his way back from injury. When Kyle Cureton is in the lineup at the small forward, that gives the Rams a frontline that goes 6-4, 6-7, and 6-10.

“That’s pretty nice, that’s unique,” said Boyer.

Boyer likes his team’s chances to gel over their nonleague and compete for a playoff spot in league, and is hoping they can get a full season in with no COVID-19 disruptions. He’s also happy to see where the Rams’ momentum is.

“We’re absolutely getting some buzz and some momentum,” he said. “We had more kids show up for tryouts, we’ve got college coaches hitting us up and asking for our schedule, that didn’t happen before. We’re just trying to keep building.”

Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.