NCAA dark period means time for San Diego Classic to shine. EBO Black and Cal Stars Nike Elite come home for the break but mostly Bishop’s (La Jolla) girls to compete in San Diego.
Note: Our girls basketball analyst, Harold Abend, would not be able to travel at all this summer without the support of four sponsors: the Cal Stars club team, West Coast Jamboree, San Diego Classic and Mission Valley Sheraton. Cal-Hi Sports thanks all of them.
With the NCAA dark period beginning on July 14, the 10th Annual Girls of Summer caravan is in San Diego for the 28th Annual San Diego Classic. We’re here to evaluate the girls and cover the 180-team event for Cal-Hi Sports, the tournament’s media sponsor.
Of the two club teams the caravan has been following during the viewing period, one local San Diego team, EBO Black, will play as Bishop’s of La Jolla minus the non-Bishop’s girls on its roster.
Bishop’s comes home from Louisville and Nashville with a second-place finish in the Under Armour Elite bracket, and as a quarterfinalist in the Junior Showcase Underclass Silver bracket at the Battle In The Boro, respectively.
Reigning State Freshman of the Year, EBO Black and Bishop’s guard Destiny Littleton continued to turn heads with her all-around outstanding play.
Another EBO Black player that stood out was Bishop’s 2017 guard Alessandra Aguirre. She made five three-pointers in a win over Maryland Pride. Other standouts were Monique Smith, a long 5-10 incoming sophomore at San Diego Serra, and Christina Ellis, a scrappy incoming senior guard from San Diego Torrey Pines.
“We were a team of mostly underclass players going against older girls in the top division,” said EBO head coach Marlon Wells about the team’s showing at the Battle In The Boro.
After a strong showing at the End of the Trail in Oregon, the Cal Stars Nike Elite didn’t have the kind of showing at the Nike National Invitational in Chicago that head coach Kelly Sopak would have hoped for, but two positives came out of the trip.
First, the Cal Stars win over Texas United qualified the team for the July 27-29 Nike Nationals in Augusta, South Carolina. Second, USA U17 Gold Medal winning team member, 2013 State Sophomore of the Year and Cal Stars superstar Sabrina Ionescu was among the statistical leaders in several categories of the EYBL (Nike Elite Youth Basketball) circuit.
“At this level of competition every team has multiple Division I recruits,” Sopak told Cal-Hi Sports. “Our girls have to step up to that level every game and that’s no easy task, but we did qualify for Nike Nationals and that’s big.”
A San Diego Classic three-peat?
What’s really big is the largest girls high school summer basketball tournament in the country – and that’s the San Diego Classic.
Tournament Director Wade Vickery, the former head coach at Santana (Santee), who won 610 games in a very successful career in San Diego’s east county, started the tournament in 1987 with just eight teams.
This year’s 180-team field isn’t the biggest in history but the 32-team 3A Division looks as competitive as ever, and the winner of the 128-team 2A Division will earn the title by outlasting a very tough group.
In the 3A Division, St. Mary’s (Stockton) would look to be a favorite to be the first team to ever three-peat in the history of the classic.
“We haven’t really talked about it (three-peat) but I might mention it before the game,” head coach Tom Gonsalves said on Thursday morning before a 5 pm opener against Arroyo Grande.
The Rams will be loaded to the gills and besides an abundance of talent at every position, Gonsalves will unleash a new weapon, 6-1 incoming freshman Aquira DeCosta.
“You won’t be disappointed,” Gonsalves remarked.
Gonsalves went on to tell the Girls of Summer caravan that he received calls from multiple Pac-12 coaches that saw DeCosta play with the Stockton Royals at the End of the Trail tournament and they were very impressed.
St. Mary’s is no lock in what looks like a very solid field. The Rams would look to not have too many problems in Pool A although Long Beach Millikan is a potential pool final opponent and Santa Ana Foothill would be a second round potential foe.
“We may be a year away from being our best but I really like this team. We’ll do real well. I’m not worried,” assessed Gonsalves.
By far the toughest bracket is Pool D with Bishop’s, Oregon City, Brea-Olinda (Brea) and El Dorado Hills Oak Ridge in the field.
Pool B has defending Division V state champion Pinewood on one side with Carlsbad La Costa Canyon. Troy of Fullerton is on the other side and opens against ABC Travel of Germany.
Pool C has Clovis West on the top half with Alhambra Mark Keppel in its opener. La Jolla Country Day is on the bottom and if one of those three teams does not win the pool it will be a shock.
Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend