Gilbert Mesquite High School

No. 3 Millennium poses with the state championship trophy at Gilbert Mesquite High School.

Millennium High School won its third consecutive state title on March 20 against Flowing Wells in the 5A Conference Championship. 

The first title under new head coach Kevin Thomas, the Lady Tigers never trailed. Grand Canyon University commit Kassidy Dixon had 20 points and 14 rebounds in her final game for Millennium.

She will look back on a program that has her legacy written all over it.

“Getting this last championship with this group of girls was amazing,” Dixon said. “This season tested us but also showed that we were strong enough to come out on top.”

And a season of tests it turned out to be. The program underwent a coaching change. The team lost key players from last year’s team. They lost three out of a four-game stretch in February, not to mention the pandemic that could have ended their season. 

Yet, the girls proved to be victorious once again. Dixon said the team’s mindset was “any practice, any game could have been their last.” 

Thomas gives the credit and success of this season to his team.

“It wasn’t like I came in and told them, ‘I want to win a state title,’” Thomas said. “They came to me and said they wanted to win another title. The practices were often focused on whether it was a state championship effort or not.

“It was cool to see them step up, even when the environment was difficult,” Thomas said.

That desire to win helped the Lady Tigers complete their 2020-21 season on an eight-game winning streak. In the playoffs, their average margin of victory was 25.5 points. The defensive intensity that was so crucial to coach Thomas’ game plan held their playoff opponents to a 32.5 points per game.

“We wanted to maintain the defensive integrity of the program,” Thomas said. “The winning culture of the program, the girls’ attitude toward winning another title, I inherited. I give a great deal of credit to the work that was done the years prior, and I don’t take that for granted.”

For Dixon and fellow senior Reese Grimsley, it meant everything to set an example for the underclassmen, like sophomore guard Mia Amundsen and freshman guard Elli Guiney. They feel the team is not only talented but will be able to address adversity head-on.

“We always stay hungry. Our program is never satisfied with just winning the title last year. We’re always ready for that next opportunity to win a state championship,” Dixon said.

Even with their program being a target after coming off back-to-back titles, the girls learned to use that as motivation to maintain an intensity in everything they did. Dixon said she feels this is something she will bring with her to the GCU women’s basketball program next year.

“I feel like I can run the floor with them,” Dixon said. “They like to move up and down the court really fast, so I feel that I will blend in well with that. I’m looking to learn from those who are older than me.

“Whatever they need me to do, I’m willing to do.”