Millennium High School has a simple goal at the beginning of every school year, said athletic director Remigio Gordillo: Be the best school in the state.
In terms of sports, Millennium feels it’s accomplished its goal.
It’s only March, and four Millennium High School sports programs have already competed for a state title this school year.
In November, the girls’ varsity indoor volleyball team won the school’s first state championship title.
February saw the girls’ soccer team, boys’ basketball team and girls’ basketball team all play in their respective championship games over a span of six days.
The girls’ basketball team delivered, winning its first title, while girls’ soccer and boys’ basketball fell one win short of the first-place trophy.
The Lady Tigers girls’ volleyball team dominated all fall en route to the program’s first state title. Led by a potent senior core, Millennium kicked off its season with a 29-game win streak.
After their lone loss to Los Angeles’ Marymount High School in September, the Tigers rolled off 16 consecutive wins, capped off by a 3-0 win over Sunnyslope in the finals round.
“The difference between this year and years past is that I had more depth,” head coach Julie Vastine said. “In the past, we relied on a handful of players to ‘carry’ the team, but this year, our entire roster could score and defend, and that is what made the difference. Their depth of skill, as well as drive, is what made this team so special.”
Of the eight senior Tigers who will graduate this spring, seven have pledged to continue their volleyball careers at the collegiate level.
Libero Nicole Hoff, who committed to Long Beach State University, knew something special was in the cards for her final episode at Millennium.
“For my past four years here, we have had a great team full of many talented players, which gave us a shot at the championship each year. But this year I knew our team had so much desire and grit to go out and compete to win that championship,” she said.
Hoff, who led the team this year with 118 sets played, has been a mainstay in Millennium’s varsity rotation since her freshman season.
On February 25, the one-seeded girls’ basketball team also cemented a spot into the school history books, capturing the program’s first state title with a 66-40 thumping over Gilbert.
They trudged into the regular season as one of the most prolific teams in the 5A conference – a year removed from a two-point defeat in the state semifinals – and walked away unscathed.
Head coach Courtland Rojeck nearly had three scorers who averaged double-digit points every night, a quick snapshot of the kind of depth he was fortunate enough to work with all season.
Senior Dominique Phillips led the team 15.6 points per game, while junior Ali Zelaya and freshman Trayanna Crisp averaged 14.7 and 9.7, respectively.
“The entire year we talked about embracing the target on our back,” Rojeck said. “We knew night in and night out, we were going to get every team’s best game. No team deserves to be champions; to be a champion you have to go out and earn it.”
The slogan of the season, per Rojeck, was “Be Different.” The Tigers sent teams to the Final Four and the championship game in years past, but there was still that elusive first-place trophy they so desperately craved.
Being different meant going and getting it.
“It was an unreal experience and something that we’ve been working for since my freshman year,” said Phillips, who scored 16 points in the championship game.
Phillips will play at the University of Nevada, Reno, in the fall.
Millennium steamrolled its way to the title, walloping the four teams it played by an average margin of victory of 36.7 points. The Tigers also held their opponents to under 40 points in each of the four rounds of the tournament.
Also seeking the first state championship was head coach David Cameron and the girls’ soccer team.
Just four seasons ago, Cameron was given the reigns to the program. In his first winter as head coach – when the current senior class were just freshmen – the Tigers went 3-12-1.
It took just four winters for Cameron to transform the Lady Tigers from a below-.500 team to perennial postseason contenders. The eight seniors who will graduate this spring will be sorely missed, but Millennium has a wealth of younger talent at its disposal for the next several seasons.
Two of their top three goal scorers from this season are set to return next fall, in junior Anacel Valenzuela-Acosta and sophomore Gabby Sangillo.
Like girls’ soccer, the boys’ basketball team will return a majority of its roster next season, highlighted by sophomores DaRon Holmes and Justus Jackson. Holmes, a 6-foot-9 power forward, averaged a double-double this season with 19.3 points per game and 10.7 rebounds per game.
Holmes has already received college offers from Texas Tech, Minnesota and Arizona State, among other schools.
Jackson averaged 15.3 PPG and led the team with 47 three-pointers in 26 games this season. He reportedly received an offer from Grand Canyon University in February.
The Tigers fell to Gilbert in the 5A state championship – their first appearance in the title game in 11 years – by a score of 38-37.
Head coach Ty Amundsen is in just his second season as the Tigers’ head coach, but has already landed Millennium on the map in the world of 5A hoops.
And as it’s been demonstrated this school year, life is good for Millennium athletics.
“It’s a surreal experience,” said Gordillo, in his third year as Millennium’s athletic director. “There’s times where I’m like, ‘Is this real?’
“I just walked into my office right now and sitting on my table in my office is the girls’ soccer runner-up trophy, the volleyball state championship trophy and the boys’ runner-up trophy.”