Girls varsity basketball ready for a great season


Photo courtesy of Jerry Rea

Coach Mike Jenkins and the Girls Varsity Basketball team celebrate Chloe Gilbert’s game-winning shot at last year’s Hall of Fame night on Feb. 7.

Alexis Cornett, Assistant Editor

With only seconds remaining until the buzzer sounded, Chloe Gilbert drained the game-winning three-pointer. The Milford Girls Varsity Basketball team had emerged victorious against Lakeland during last year’s Hall of Fame night on Feb. 7, but when Gilbert reflects on this game-winning shot, it’s the support of her teammates that she remembers so fondly.

“Hitting the game-winning shot against Lakeland at home last year was insane,” Gilbert said. “I couldn’t have done it without my team.”

The team has been building back towards a winning program with a 8-13 record last year, much improved from the previous season’s 2-19 record. The hard work and team effort contributed to several key victories against South Lyon, Walled Lake Central and Lakeland. This year, the Milford Girls Varsity Basketball team is poised to have its best season yet.

First-year Head Coach Mike Jenkins is looking to bring his passion and experience to the  team. He was the varsity assistant coach last year under Coach David Browne and has spent the past 18 years coaching boys and girls from grades 6-12. “I’ve been around the game my entire life,” Jenkins said. “I love being part of a team and try to bring my best to the gym every day and hopefully that rubs off on the program here at Milford.”

And the effect on his players is evident.

Sophomore Gigi Gondoly attested to Coach Jenkins’ positivity and goals for the team. “He’s so nice,” Gondoly said, “But he’s also still intense; you know, you can tell he really wants us to get better, so it’s a good balance.”

Senior Brianna Hipple expressed similar sentiments. “Jenkins has really turned this program toward some new goals, however still focusing on the importance of family,” Hipple said. “We focus on competing each day with every drill and we strive to bring effort every practice as if this could be the last day, which we never know, that could happen!”

A strong group of returning players will also promote success for the team. Seniors Josie Caldwell, Sammy Knapp, Kayla Leatch, Brianna Hipple, Rachel Maude and Chloe Gilbert and the four juniors with varsity experience (Taryn Marshall, Jenna Hoppe, Lily Shaw and Veronica Ricci) will be key to the team’s success. “We will be very deep this year and they all bring something different to the team, but all have important roles to play,” said Jenkins.

COVID-19 restrictions posed several new challenges for the girls varsity team. Tryouts were pushed back several months and practices were limited to no-contact drills and skill training to comply with safety precautions.

In response, Jenkins was forced to rethink everything he would normally do in a typical season. “I’ve learned to adjust to the circumstances,” he said. “[I] try to motivate the team in different ways, get creative in our planning while still keeping focus on our common goal. The kids have been outstanding through this and ultimately all of us will come out stronger for this experience.”

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced on Feb. 4 that winter sports could start contact scrimmages and practices beginning Feb. 8.

The prospect of starting games is particularly exciting for Hipple. “I cannot even tell you how eager our team is to get back out on that court,” Hipple said. “Every day, we step into the gym knowing nothing essentially, but I go to practice to be with my teammates. Milford Basketball isn’t known for its years of winning championships, it is known for the spectacular relationships we build with each other and the community and I am glad to be a part of that.”

After a tumultuous start to the season, the team is prepared for success. “I love being a part of the program here at Milford,” Jenkins said. “The future is bright for girls basketball and can’t wait to get the season started!”