The Monarchs girl’s basketball team poses with Sparks guard Zia Cooke (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

The Morningside Monarchs girl’s basketball team recently made history during their run in the Division 4A Southern Section playoffs. The Monarchs reached the quarterfinals, this was the longest playoff run for Morningside in 19 years.

“It’s been a blessing the whole season,” said Morningside girl’s basketball head coach Ni’Jah LeShaw. “The parents have been great, the girls have been great, everybody worked together and it really came along in a nice way.”

This was the first season for LeShaw as head coach. While she was able to train with some players, she had to teach others the fundamentals of basketball.

“A lot of girls couldn’t even dribble up the court without falling or traveling,” LeShaw said. “To see them believing and trusting in us and then taking what we’re putting into them in practice and taking it to the game, it was amazing.”

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Basketball legend Cheryl Miller spoke with the Morningside girl’s basketball team during the Sparks’ WNBA Draft Party (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

The Monarchs defeated the CAMS Coyotes 45-32 in the first round of the playoffs. Morningside then beat the Norte Vista Braves 42-38 in the second round, to reach the quarterfinals. Their historic run ended in a 52-34 loss to the St. Pius X-St. Matthias Academy Warriors.

Their talent and hard work was recognized by the Los Angeles Sparks, as the Monarchs were invited to their WNBA Draft Party in a penthouse in Downtown L.A.. They were able to meet several sports icons, including basketball legends Cheryl Miller and Magic Johnson.

Miller expressed her gratitude to the team for their efforts. The Monarchs had a 12-8 overall record and a 5-4 Ocean League record.

“I hope they understand what they’ve been able to accomplish is their legacy,” Miller said. “What they achieved, this is just a stepping stone to their bright futures and I wanted to thank them for personally doing and achieving what they did and let them know that I’m so proud.”

Morningside poses with sportscaster Jemele Hill and Lakers Youth Foundation executive director Kiesha Nix (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

Competing in scrimmages and playing in a league that houses Leuzinger and Beverly Hills exposed them to the level of aggression needed to succeed. Sophomore Kayla Thomas noted how team chemistry helped them contend.

“We learned each other strengths and weaknesses and knowing what each other are going to do,” Thomas said. “We’re really like a family at this point. They’re really my sisters.”

Sparks forward Rae Burrell and guard Zia Cooke took photos with the players. The squad also got a chance to meet sportscaster and author Jemele Hill along with Lakers Youth Foundation executive director Kiesha Nix.

Senior Serenity Richardson was elated to network at the party.

“It’s exciting, I’m glad to be here,” Richardson said. “Hopefully, one day I will be on the TV and everybody  will be watching me and cheering me on as well.”