The562’s season previews for the 2022-23 school year are sponsored by Vertical Raise, the official team fundraising partner of The562.
The562’s coverage of Millikan athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Curtis Boyer.
This will be a rebuilding season for Millikan girls’ basketball and coach Lorene Morgan thinks she has the type of team to get that done.
“They’re a great group that is funny and tight knit,” Morgan said of her young squad. “They want to welcome new people in and are good, solid kids.”
Junior center Emily Piper has been stepping up as a leader for the Rams. She only started playing basketball in eighth grade so she learned a lot over the summer while working on her aggressiveness and footwork.
“The seniors (last year) taught me a lot about working hard no matter what,” Piper said. “It was kind of tough on us (to come back without them) but we’ve been rebuilding with good chemistry. We’re like a family.”
Like most of her team, Morgan said Piper has made great strides by putting in the time outside of practice with her fellow Rams.
“That goes a long way as far as leadership goes when you’re one of the ones who shows up ready,” Morgan said.
Piper will be joined in the starting lineup with senior Cristen Duncan and junior Faith Vergara. The guards will have big shoes to fill after the graduation of Amy Walker. She was the Rams’ point guard for four years.
“Faith is really improved as a leader and calling things out and directing traffic,” Morgan said. “She’s stepping up.”
Senior Jaylen Escobar is a combo forward who can play the three or the four spots on the floor. She will also be counted on for leadership after three years with the program.
“They’re going to have to provide some of that stability and composure that the older seniors did last year,” Morgan said of her guards. “They have to step up to be that part of the glue for this team.”
Morgan is confident in her depth and said that players like Ky-lliyah Clardy will be in the mix. The sophomore got good playing time last year as a very versatile athlete. Sophomore Saryna Bermudez is also a pure athlete who can come off the bench.
“The best version of us is if everyone stays motivated and realizes what we can really do, then we can do amazing things,” Piper said. “On defense we have more work to do with people finding their spots and being more aggressive.”
In order to be able to play the style they want this season, the Rams have taken a more dedicated approach to conditioning in the offseason.
“We’ve put in the miles, literally, since last spring,” Morgan said. “We’ve been running the track and the bleachers Monday through Friday… You will see the Rams come out and work hard on both ends of the court, as always.”