Girls BB: Final summer stops

Berkeley's Desire Finnie lived up to her name and displayed improved skills in all facets of her game at the Summer in the City event. Photo: Harold Abend.

Berkeley’s Desire Finnie lived up to her name and displayed improved skills in all facets of her game at the Summer in the City event. Photo: Harold Abend.

JBS tops the field at West Coast Shootout in Sacramento behind Joeseta Fatuesi while Cal Ballaz and Desire Finnie heat up the most at Summer in the City held in San Pablo.

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The Ninth Annual Girls of Summer Caravan logged nearly 4,200 miles covering girls basketball in recent weeks in California and Southern Nevada, starting with events in June, and then continuing during the July NCAA viewing period as well as the 10-day dark period in the middle of the month.

All in all, six events were covered that drew around 5,000 girls. The Caravan made stops in Walnut Creek, San Diego, Las Vegas, Sacramento, and twice in San Pablo.

Host JBS exacts revenge on FBC at West Coast Shootout

After losing to FBC (Finest Basketball Club) SoCal by 17 points in the Ballin in the Ballroom in Las Vegas, JBS (Just Believe Sports) Elite turned the tables in the championship game of their own West Coast Shootout, and delighted the home crowd with a 59-43 victory on July 28 at Valley High in Sacramento.

“Very rarely do you get a rematch during the viewing period, and we got one and the girls wanted it,” JBS Director and head coach Sean Chambers told Cal-Hi Sports.

With both schools that have made her an offer, Arizona State and Hawaii looking on, Joeseta Fatuesi (2014) from JBS took over on both ends of the court. She scored the team’s first nine points, including a three-pointer, and finished with game highs of 22 points (including two three-pointers), nine rebounds and three blocks. The day before, in a 69-43 shellacking of Team Chaos, made up of girls from the Fresno area, Fatuesi had 15 points and 17 rebounds. She also made a trey in that game.

“I’m weighing my options right now,” answered the big and strong 6-foot-3, 2014 center from Santa Clara Wilcox.

Another girl who played extremely well all tournament for JBS was St. Mary’s (Stockton) 2014 wing Charise Holloway.

Joeseta Fatuesi, who now goes to Wilcox of Santa Clara, was the State Freshman of the Year when she was at Presentation of San Jose. Photo: Harold Abend.

Joeseta Fatuesi, who now goes to Wilcox of Santa Clara, was the State Freshman of the Year when she was at Presentation of San Jose. Photo: Harold Abend.

Against FBC, the 5-foot-10 wing with an offer from UNLV and medium interest from 10 other top-notch programs, finished with 17 points, six steals, three assists and two rebounds. Against Chaos, Holloway had 19 points, nine rebounds, five assists and four steals. She looks to be fully recovered from an injury that sidelined her for part of last season.

JBS guard Jasmine Redmond (2014) from Elk Grove Monterey Trail also showed well and impressed all the college coaches in attendance, including the one from Hawaii where she has an offer.

The 5-foot-8 guard played excellent defense in both games observed, and wasn’t afraid to go the glass. Against FBC, she had six rebounds, five assists and five steals and hit a key 3-pointer early. In the Chaos game, she had 10 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals.

Oregon-bound FBC star McKynzie Fort (2014) from Etiwanda played very well to the end, but with the grind of the long viewing period combined with being in front of a noisy hostile crowd, many of her teammates ran out of gas.

Fort, a 5-foot-9 guard that likes to go inside or out, scored her team’s first six points and finished with 19 points, six rebounds, four steals and two assists.

Kiana Williams, a 5-foot-10 incoming senior guard from FBC that led her Lakeside (Lake Elsinore) team to the CIF Southern Section Division 3AA semifinals last season, scored 15 points, including two treys with one from NBA range, six rebounds, four steals and three assists.

One of the more interesting matchups was incoming eighth grade phenom Myrrah Joseph squaring off with Fatuesi in the paint. The 6-foot FBC post held her own in limited action. She finished with seven points, including scoring once over Fatuesi, and six rebounds.

In an earlier game when she played for the FBC SoCal No. 2 team against JBS Frosh Elite, Joseph, a 13-year old, looked like a woman among girls. In the 71-50 victory, she had 24 points and 17 rebounds.

Cal Ballaz upends host EBX in Summer in the City finale

The Girls of Summer Caravan was waiting all summer for her to break out, and that’s exactly what CA Ballaz wing Desire Finnie (2014) of Berkeley did in her last two games of the viewing period.

In a 54-41 Gold Division title game drubbing of host EBX (East Bay Xplosion), and in a game where both teams were missing key players, Finnie had 23 points, seven rebounds and three steals. She served notice in the semifinals with a 20-point, 11-rebound and four-steal performance in a 58-52 overtime victory over a very talented Team Concept from the Portland area.

With the score tied 48-48 after regulation, Finnie opened the OT with a left-handed layup, and then on the next possession, she duplicated the feat with a foul and a free throw for a 53-50 lead.

While she already has some solid offers and other schools interested, Finnie was happy when told she may have improved her stock.

“My goal this summer was to show the college coaches I can dribble more, get to the basket with both hands, and show them I can really play and am dedicated to the game,” said Finnie, who has offers from Nevada Las Vegas, Temple and Eastern Washington, but plans on taking official visits to Southern California and Oregon, both of whom have interest.

Two other Ballaz players that looked good were Asha Thomas of Bishop O’Dowd and Najah Queenland from St. Francis of Sacramento.

Cal-bound Mikayla Cowling (2014) did everything she could for EBX but the girls were just no match for the Ballaz. She scored the team’s first seven points and finished with 17 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals.

In a semifinal 72-55 win over Vegas Elite, the 6-foot-1 St. Mary’s (Berkeley) wing showed an Air Jordan move that even lit up the eyes of some college coaches.

“You like that,” she answered with a smile when asked what’s up with the new hang in the air move. “I started doing ally-oops in middle school with Gabby (fellow St. Mary’s star Gabby Green) and I’ve been developing the move from there since my sophomore year.”

Final Shoutout

A final salute to the West Coast Jamboree and Walnut Creek Embassy Suites Sales Manager Carmen Hays for helping sponsor the Girls of Summer Caravan during our stays in Las Vegas and Sacramento.

Harold Abend is the associate editor of and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend

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  1. […] Wilcox’s Joeseta Fatuesi (‘14), Bishop O’Dowd’s Asha Thomas (‘15), Cal commit Mikayla Cowling (‘14) from St. Mary’s, and Berkeley’s Desire Finnie (‘14) all caught the attention of Harold Abend. […]

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