On the basketball court, Cardinal Newman’s Milan Morris works with surgical precision.
She knows the exact release point for her shot to swish effortlessly through the basket, which subtle movement will draw a foul when she drives to the rim, where an errant shot will come off the backboard so she can grab a rebound.
Being exact will bode well for Morris, the Palm Beach Post’s Small Schools Girls Basketball Player of the Year, because she plans to become an orthopedic surgeon after her basketball days are done.
“Just being around sports my whole life — not only basketball, but football with my brother and baseball and softball — and seeing those injuries,” Morris said, “and trying to figure out how I can make it better, how can I make the recovery process faster, all played a big role (in wanting to be an orthopedic surgeon).”
Morris, who said she has a 5.5 honors point average at Cardinal Newman, will continue both her academic and basketball careers at Boston College later this year (along with Large School Co-Player of the Year Grace Marko).
“I felt that BC was the best of both worlds,” she said. “Playing in the ACC and (being at) one of the most prestigious academic schools in the nation.”
Morris burst onto the scene at Newman as a freshman, leading the Crusaders with 17.6 points a game in her first season. She repeated as the team leader in points as a sophomore the next year as Newman fell to Fort Myers-Dunbar in the state semifinals.
“When we lost that game against Dunbar … immediately after that game, before we were even off the court, I told her she was going to be a captain next year,” Newman coach Dennis Miles said.
She did that, excelling as a team captain while being named to the Post’s All-Area first teams her entire career.
“She leads by example,” he said. “But she did a great job becoming a vocal leader and really getting the team to do the things we needed to do.”
Morris excelled completely as a senior, averaging 22.3 points, 12.5 rebounds, 3.8 steals and three assists a game to end her high school career.
“She’s the hardest worker you’ll ever see,” Miles said. “She’s really focused on becoming a complete basketball player.”
Isabella Alexis, American Heritage, Sr., Guard: Alexis, a first-team selection as a junior, averaged 21 points per game this year.
Alyssa Bialakis, Saint John Paul II Academy, Sr., Forward: Bialakis has a dominant final season, averaging 21 points and 12.5 rebounds per game, highlighted by a 38-point, 19-rebound game against American Heritage.
Haley Gantt, King’s Academy, Jr., Forward: Gantt was a force in the Lions’ front court, averaging 14.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and 4.3 blocks per game.
Da’Mya Preston, Benjamin, Jr., Forward: Preston continued her stellar career with another good season, averaging 16.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game for her third straight first-team All-Area selection.
Megan Rampersad, Grandview Prep, Jr., Guard: The top-scoring point guard for the Pride’s Class 2A championship team, Rampersad averaged 18.4 points and 3.7 steals per game.
Aaliyah Stanley, Oxbridge Academy, So., Guard: Part 1 of the ThunderWolves’ pair of guards, Stanley helped lead her team to the Final Four while averaging 16.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists and three steals per game.
Daniella Turner, St. Andrew’s, Sr., Guard: One of Palm Beach County’s top scorers, Turner averaged 20.5 points and 3.4 rebounds per game for the Scots.
Alexa Zaph, Oxbridge Academy, So., Guard: The other part of Oxbridge’s guard tandem, Zaph averaged 14.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.7 steals per game.
Sydni Donovan, Cardinal Newman, Sr., Forward
Jessica Nodell, Berean Christian, Sr., Forward
Sydney Levine, Donna Klein, So., Guard
Sarah Radabaugh, Grandview Prep, Sr., Guard
Jillian Schenk, Lake Worth Christian, Fr., Forward
Kaylon Smith, Oxbridge Academy, So., Forward
Kiara Warren, St. Andrew’s, Sr., Forward
Anise Williams, Benjamin, Jr., Forward
American Heritage: Christina Browder, Paige Smith; Benjamin: Hanna Hilcoff, Emma Laszewski; Berean Christian: Jenna Brannon; Cardinal Newman: Nicole Ayuso, Bianca Cantando; Grandview Prep: Scarlett Anosier, Danielle Montelbano, Alexis Romer; King’s Academy: Isabel Albert, Caylie Catoe, Brianna McDaniel; Oxbridge Academy: Nashani Gilbert-Taylor; Saint John Paul II Academy: Katherine Mollica; St. Andrew’s: Alexa Gutchess.
Coach of the Year
Ian Clarke, Grandview Prep: After leading the team to the state Final Four last year, Clarke and the Pride won the Class 2A state title in Lakeland.