By Harold Abend
Contributing: Mark Tennis, Paul Muyskens
The idiom “youth must be served” was never more evident than at the 2013 Campolindo Shootout held last Saturday at Lafayette Bentley.
With the Cal-Hi Sports Caravan not only covering the event but also announcing the three marquee games, it was the youngsters on the court that grabbed most of the attention, and caught the Caravan’s eye.
Each of the first six games had an underclass star, or in some cases more than one, but none was more impressive than Orinda Miramonte freshman Sabrina Ionescu, in leading the state No. 12-ranked Matadors to an impressive 69-55 victory over Archbishop Mitty of San Jose, which came into the game at No. 11.
The 5-foot-10 guard sparked a rally that turned a 26-17 second-quarter deficit into a 32-30 halftime lead, and then she literally took over in the second half, finishing with a double-double 24 points and 12 rebounds, with five assists and three steals.
“She has a twin brother, she’s had a basketball in her hands since she was 3-years old and she has excelled in AAU for a few years,” said Miramonte head coach Kelly Sopak of Ionescu, who despite only averaging under 21 minutes a game in Sopak’s system of shuttling 10 girls, is still averaging 11.0 points, 6.4 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.7 steals per game.
Against Mitty, Ionescu didn’t do it alone. She had help from 5-foot-10 freshman power forward Uriah Howard, and freshman guard and long-range shooter Keanna de los Santos. Howard hit a key 3-pointer during the second quarter run, and de los Santos hit three second half treys and finished with 17 points.
Junior forward and leading scorer Breanna Alford didn’t do much offensively, but she pounded the glass for 10 rebounds. Another junior, Megan Reid, had five steals for a Matadors’ defense that had 17 steals. The lone senior on the team, Carly Gill, led a defensive effort against Mitty’s Kelli Hayes, limiting the 6-foot-1 junior star to nine points.
The press of Miramonte eventually wore down a Mitty team that was playing its seventh game in 14 days, and is without injured guard Vanessa Garner and two other starters because of injuries.
Mitty did have some bright spots. The Monarchs were paced by the 17 points (five three-pointers) of freshman Jahnay Anderson. Also, starting because of injuries was NiaJai Craig, the daughter of former 49ers’ great Roger Craig. The 5-foot-10 sophomore center had a game high 14 rebounds and three blocks. Senior 5-foot-10 sharpshooter Emily Dinger also turned in a solid performance, finishing with a double-double 13 points and 10 rebounds, with five assists.
“We’re young, so any time you go into a marquee event like this and play a top-notch team like Mitty, and play well and beat them, it’s a reference point for our girls, and for the freshmen hopefully for the next four years,” Sopak said.
Carondelet, ranked No. 15 in the state coming in, got all it could handle from Berkeley in a 66-58 victory. Junior guard Natalie Romeo took over down the stretch and scored 15 of her game high 29 points (seven assists, six steals, four rebounds) in the fourth quarter.
Trailing 45-39 after three quarters, and then 52-44 just over 2 minutes into the final period, the game changed in Carondelet’s favor when Berkeley’s 5-foot-10 power forward Rachel Howard (12 points, nine rebounds) fouled out with 5:35 to play.
From there, the inside advantage the Yellowjackets had was diminished and Romeo and her junior backcourt mate and recent Loyola Marymount-commit, Makenzie Cast (12 points), were able to seal the deal.
State No. 6 St. Mary’s of Berkeley also had little trouble against defending Division V state champion Brookside Christian (Stockton) in a 71-52 victory.
Gabby Green, the ESPN No. 3 guard and No. 9 overall player from the junior class, had 18 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals. Four of the long-legged 6-foot star’s assists came on passes inside to Elexis Goodwin. The 5-foot-10 senior also had 18 points with eight rebounds. Cal-committed 6-foot junior forward Mikayla Cowling added a double-double 11 points and 10 rebounds, with four assists and three blocks.
With all the talent on display, the buzz amongst the girls basketball analysts present was still about Ionescu, so just in case you want to know, since you might be hearing her name a lot over the next four years, “yah-ness-coo” is how to pronounce it.
Here are this week’s rankings:
(Updated through games played Saturday, Jan. 26; previous ranking in
1. (1) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 21-0
The bubble almost burst for the Monarchs last Saturday at San Juan Capistrano, but in the end they overcame a 47-44 deficit entering the fourth quarter by outscoring host JSerra 17-7 in the final period to post a 61-57 victory. With leading scorer and rebounder Katie Lou Samuelson out of the game after injuring her left knee early in the second quarter, it was up to other girls to step up and pick up the slack. Not surprisingly, it was her older sister, senior Karlie Samuelson (game-high 28 points), who along with sophomore Andee Velasco (17 points, four 3-pointers) led Mater Dei to the comeback win. The girls travel to Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita) before the Nike Extravaganza at Mater Dei where the Cal-Hi Sports Caravan will see them on Friday night against new No. 20 Oaks Christian.
2. (2) Windward (Los Angeles) 21-0
The Wildcats posted a win last Saturday over No. 5 Long Beach Poly, but theirs was even more difficult than Mater Dei, as the Wildcats needed overtime to pull out a 59-57 home victory. This week, they have a league game against North Hollywood Campbell Hall before taking on JSerra at the P.A.W. 4AA Showcase in San Juan Capistrano.
3. (3) Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 16-3
As has been the case the last few years, it was another week in which the Dragons posted two league running clock victories, the latest over San Lorenzo Arroyo and San Leandro. This week, it’s Hayward Mt. Eden and Castro Valley, and despite O’Dowd being on the road, it should be more of the same.
4. (4) St. Mary’s (Stockton) 18-1
There was not a lot to write about for the Rams this week. Just one night after they completed their 2-0 sweep in their own MLK weekend event, they took on previously unbeaten McNair of Stockton and pulled away for a 87-58 triumph. St. Mary’s then ended the week with an easy 93-18 romp past Tokay of Lodi. The girls already have an easy win this week over Edison of Stockton and still have one game left against West of Tracy.
5. (5) Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 18-3
There’s certainly no way we can drop the Jackrabbits after they forced unbeaten and No. 2 Windward to overtime before falling 59-57. If St. Mary’s of Berkeley had not lost two weeks ago to Salesian of Richmond, there might have been justification to move the Panthers higher because they have a two-point win over Poly. As it stands, the Jackrabbits look even more legit as a top five team in the state. In the loss, Poly led Windward by eight in the fourth quarter and was paced by Jada Matthews with 17 points and 16 rebounds. This week there’s a tough game on the agenda as well with a matchup against No. 9 Troy of Fullerton.
6. (6) St. Mary’s (Berkeley) 17-4
A blowout over over St. Joseph Notre Dame of Alameda preceded the one the Panthers had at the Campolindo Shootout against Brookside Christian. This week, they have St. Patrick St. Vincent on the road, El Cerrito at home, and then they travel to Santa Ana to face Chatsworth Sierra Canyon in the Nike Extravaganza on Friday afternoon.
7. (7) Chaminade (West Hills) 20-2
There were two easy league road wins for the Eagles last week — at Flintridge Sacred Heart in a running clock victory and a 27-point win at Woodland Hills Louisville. This week, they face Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) on the road and North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake at home. Next week is the big rematch with the host Alemany team that they beat at home two weeks ago by three points.
8. (8) Santiago (Corona) 20-2
The Sharks definitely deserve to move up this week but can’t because the only team above them that lost was No. 5 Long Beach Poly and that was in the overtime contest with No. 2 Windward. The head-turning win, of course, was the one by 78-45 over previous No. 17 Corona Centennial. Chrishae Rowe was sensational with 41 points and was backed up by Monique Billings with 11 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks. Santiago closed the week with another big win, this one against bubble team Keppel of Alhambra 86-58. The girls play league games this week against Roosevelt of Eastvale and Corona.
9. (9) Troy (Fullerton) 17-3
It had been since 2006 when the Warriors last topped North Orange County rival Brea Olinda in a game and they got that job done last Saturday by beating the Ladycats 52-30. Briana Roberson keyed the offense with a game-high 21 points and helped Troy get out to an early 14-3 lead. The girls can’t do too much celebrating, either, since they have a bigger game coming up on Saturday against No. 5 Long Beach Poly.
10. (10) Millikan (Long Beach) 21-2
The Rams were in cruise control last week and it should be more of the same this week. Their wins were by 85-36 against Cabrillo of Long Beach and 82-35 over Compton. Up next this week will be Long Beach Jordan and Long Beach Wilson.
11. (12) Miramonte (Orinda) 19-1
Despite getting one of the biggest wins in recent school history, and rising to what is believed to be the highest state ranking in school history, there isn’t much room for the Matadors to move up further in this week’s rankings. Other than the Mitty team they beat and Long Beach Poly losing in overtime to Windward, no other teams lost last week.
12. (13) Etiwanda 20-2
Posting a 67-60 win over strong bubble team Serra of Gardena helps the Eagles get a one-spot bump in this week’s rankings. Their other outings last week resulted in wins over Glendora (66-29) and Upland (84-22). Against Serra, Amy Okonkwo capped a strong outing by making 6-of-6 free throws down the stretch. She finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds. Etiwanda takes on league foes Los Osos of Rancho Cucamonga and Alta Loma in this week’s games.
13. (14) Salesian (Richmond) 19-4
Two easy league wins, coupled with a win two weeks ago over a Berkeley St. Mary’s team that has a win over Mitty, gets the Pride girls a one spot bump in this week’s rankings. In a 81-40 win over St. Patrick St. Vincent from last week, junior star Mariya Moore led five girls in double-figure scoring with 20 points, eight rebounds, eight steals and five assists. Salesian already has a 61-pont win over El Cerrito this week.
14. (15) Carondelet (Concord) 16-3
Along with last week’s action, a previous head-to-head win over Berkeley St. Mary’s and a 21-pont win over a Sacred Heart Cathedral team that beat Mitty recently, gets the Cougars an upward shift as well in this week’s rankings.
15. (11) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 15-5
Before suffering the loss to Miramonte at the Campolindo Shootout, the Monarchs netted league wins last week against Presentation of San Jose and St. Ignatius of San Francisco. Those wins, though, weren’t enough to prevent a fall behind Salesian of Richmond and Carondelet of Concord in this week’s rankings. Mitty still has played too many top opponents to drop behind any other top 15 teams in the season.
16. (16) Rancho Verde (Moreno Valley) 19-2
The Mustangs hang still at No. 16 this week since they haven’t yet done enough to move in front of Archbishop Mitty, the only higher-ranked team that lost last week. In a strong non-league outing last week, Briah Nelson topped the scoring with 11 points in a 56-37 win over Ventura. This week’s schedule sees Rancho Verde playing at home against always-stout Canyon Springs and then a game at J.W. North. Earlier when playing the Huskies, the Mustangs squeaked out a 66-63 win.
17. (18) La Jolla Country Day (La Jolla) 9-10
Consideration was given to bumping the best sub .500 team in the state and possibly the nation even higher in this week’s rankings. Still, it’s a move up for the Torreys, who recorded an impressive 20-point win last week over host San Diego Horizon.
18. (19) Bishop Alemany (Mission Hills) 18-5
After their MLK Day triumph against Harvard-Westlake, the Warriors breezed past Flintridge Sacred Heart of La Canada 61-43 in their only other outing from last week. They get to move up one spot in this week’s rankings because of previous No. 17 Corona Centennial has to drop out. It figures to be an easy week coming up for Alemany (games against Louisville of Woodland Hills and Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks) but after that the league rematch with No. 7 Chaminade will take place.
19. (20) JSerra (San Juan Capistrano) 17-5
Putting in the Lions last week at the 20th spot ended up being the right move since they gave No. 1 Mater Dei a scare before losing by only 61-54. Entering the fourth quarter, JSerra even led 47-44. We certainly can’t drop them at all for losing like that and in fact they go up one. Coco Miller had 14 points in that game and will be looking for another strong outing on Saturday when the Lions play No. 2 Windward of Los Angeles in a non-league matchup.
20. (NR) Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) 15-5
For the second straight week, we’re going with a newcomer at No. 20 that has a game coming up against No. 1 Mater Dei. That’s not the reason why the Lions were moved up, however. It’s more because they own a win over No. 7 Chaminade and because they have a win over Stockdale of Bakersfield (which has a win over Ridgeview, the other team that primarily was considered for this spot). Oaks Christian’s last loss also was by just four points to Serra of Gardena and two of its losses were in the very first two games. Oaks Christian’s game with Mater Dei will be Friday night as part of Mater Dei’s Nike Extravaganza.
Previous No. 17 Centennial (Corona).
On the Bubble
Berkeley 11-9, Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) 19-5, Bishop’s (La Jolla) 15-8, Bonita (La Verne) 18-5, Bullard (Fresno) 16-3, Brea Olinda (Brea) 16-4, Brookside Christian (Stockton) 18-4, Cajon (San Bernardino) 21-0, Canyon (Canyon Country) 19-4, Centennial (Corona) 18-3, Clovis West (Fresno) 14-5, Eastside College Prep (East Palo Alto) 14-5, Enterprise (Redding) 20-1, El Dorado (Placentia) 20-3, Hanford 17-4, Heritage (Brentwood) 15-4, Horizon (San Diego) 16-6, J.W. North (Riverside) 14-4, Kennedy (Sacramento) 16-4, Keppel (Alhambra) 19-4, La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad) 20-2, Laguna Hills 17-5, Lynbrook (San Jose) 16-3, Lynwood 14-5, McNair (Stockton) 21-2, Miller (Fontana) 18-3, Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills) 17-3*, Oakland Tech (Oakland) 15-3, Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) 15-5, Orange Lutheran (Orange) 18-3, Ridgeview (Bakersfield) 18-3, Sacramento 17-4, St. Bernard (Playa del Rey) 18-6, St. Ignatius (San Francisco) 14-5, San Clemente 15-5, Serra (Gardena) 17-5, Stockdale (Bakersfield) 16-4, Vista Murrieta (Murrieta) 18-5, Wilcox (Santa Clara) 17-2, Woodbridge (Irvine) 20-3.
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