More State Girls Players of the Year

Destiny Littleton of La Jolla Bishop's followed up State Freshman of the Year season with one as a sophomore that was sensational. Photo: Courtesy school.

Destiny Littleton of La Jolla Bishop’s followed up State Freshman of the Year season with one as a sophomore that was sensational. Photo: Courtesy school.


We select honorees for seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshmen and for each CIF division. The most difficult was for Division II with so many balanced scoring teams in the state playoffs. Like the boys, two of this year’s winners also had to be picked twice.

For official writeup on the 2014-15 Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year, CLICK HERE.

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Congratulations to these girls players for being selected as a Cal-Hi Sports State Player of the Year. Stay tuned for the release next week of the 35th annual Cal-Hi Sports All-State Teams. Here is a complete list of our girls basketball individual honorees for the 2014-15 season:

(Note: Players from teams that competed in open divisions were considered for the CIF divisions their teams would have played in had they not been moved up to the open division.)

Juniors & Division III
Sabrina Ionescu (Miramonte, Orinda)

One year ago, Sabrina was selected as the D3 State Player of the Year and the State Sophomore of the Year. She definitely did nothing to prevent her from being the D3 honoree once again and logically the State Junior of the Year. To say she’s the leading contender to be Ms. Basketball for next year is an understatement.

Photo: Harold Abend.

Photo: Harold Abend.


With a D3 designation from the CIF North Coast Section, Miramonte and Ionescu once again were moved up to the NorCal Open Division and for the second straight year went to the NorCal Open Division final, this time falling to eventual state champion St. Mary’s of Stockton. The Matadors finished 30-5 and were No. 5 in the final overall state rankings.

Ionescu improved her numbers in all categories compared to her sophomore season and showed why many major D1 colleges, including UConn and Duke, along with almost every Pac-12 school, have offered her. The 6-foot guard with slashing skills, elite point guard potential and shooting range hit for 23.0 points, 8.9 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 5.0 steals per game. She shot 39 percent on 3-pointers and 84.7 percent on free throws.

Last summer, Ionescu led the U17 USA national team in steals and was second in assists in helping that win an international competition. She also was on the U16 USA national team in 2013.

Last 10 State Juniors of the Year: 2014 Katie Lou Samuelson (Santa Ana Mater Dei); 2013 Jordin Canada (Los Angeles Windward); 2012 Kelsey Plum (La Jolla Country Day); 2011 Aly Beebe (Santa Maria St. Joseph); 2010 Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (Santa Ana Mater Dei); 2009 Chelsea Gray (Stockton St. Mary’s); 2008 Layshia Clarendan (San Bernardino Cajon); 2007 Jasmine Dixon (Long Beach Poly); 2006 Vicki Baugh (Sacramento); 2005 Jacki Gemelos (Stockton St. Mary’s).

Last 10 State D3 Players of the Year: 2014 Sabrina Ionescu (Orinda Miramonte); 2013 Oderah Chidom (Oakland Bishop O’Dowd); 2012 Kendall “K.C.” Waters (Oakland Bishop O’Dowd); 2011 Aly Beebe (Santa Maria St. Joseph); 2010 Chelsea Gray (Stockton St. Mary’s); 2009 Chelsea Gray (Stockton St. Mary’s); 2008 Jazmine Jackson (San Francisco Sacred Heart Cathedral); 2007 Vickie Baugh (Sacramento); 2006 Jacki Gemelos (Stockton St. Mary’s); 2005 Jacki Gemelos (Stockton St. Mary’s).

SENIORS & DIVISION I
Katie Lou Samuelson (Mater Dei, Santa Ana)

Our Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year obviously would be the senior of the year and also would be a three-peat winner for CIF Division I classification based on policy of Open Division players being considered for the divisions their teams would be in if there was no open division.

Last 10 State D1 Players of the Year: 2014 Katie Lou Samuelson (Santa Ana Mater Dei); 2013 Katie Lou Samuelson (Santa Ana Mater Dei); 2012 Nirra Fields (Santa Ana Mater Dei); 2011 Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (Santa Ana Mater Dei); 2010 Sara James (El Dorado Hills Oak Ridge); 2009 Layshia Clarendon (San Bernardino Cajon); 2008 Jasmine Dixon (Long Beach Poly); 2007 Jasmine Dixon (Long Beach Poly); 2006 Jasmine Dixon (Long Beach Poly); 2005 Erika Arriaran (Norco).

SOPHOMORES & DIVISION V
Destiny Littleton (Bishop’s, La Jolla)

We normally don’t like to choose a player for two separate categories, but Littleton was the State Freshman of the Year for 2013-14 and obviously had a more sensational 10th grade season. And as the already named San Diego Section Player of the Year, she just did too much in comparison to others from D5 teams, including last year’s winner, Marissa Hing of Los Altos Hills Pinewood (her team was moved up to the open division), Mai-Loni Henson of D5 state champ La Jolla Country Day and Destiny Graham of D5 state runner-up Eastside Prep.
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In the three games between Bishop’s and LJCD, Littleton was the leading scorer in all of them (25, 32 & 29) although the Torreys won twice. Some of her other outings in a season in which she averaged 33.7 points per game and showed she could be a threat to the all-time state career scoring record were 32 points vs. Torrey Pines of San Diego, 49 vs. La Costa Canyon of Carlsbad and 37 vs. Orangewood Academy of Garden Grove in the SoCal D5 semifinals.

Littleton, who already has an invite to the USA Basketball Under-16 national team tryout, did all of it while being double- and triple-teamed for a squad that only had seven girls and most of them inexperienced. Her season scoring total of 1,149 points ranks third in San Diego Section history behind only Terri Mann of Point Loma and Charde Houston of San Diego High.

Another San Diego area all-time great, Kelsey Plum of La Jolla Country Day in 2011, was the last State Sophomore of the Year from that section. Plum went on to be Ms. Basketball two years later.

Last 10 State Sophomores of the Year: 2014 Sabrina Ionescu (Orinda Miramonte); 2013 Katie Lou Samuelson (Santa Ana Mater Dei); 2012 Jordin Canada (Los Angeles Windward); 2011 Kelsey Plum (La Jolla Country Day); 2010 Aly Beebe (Santa Maria St. Joseph); 2009 Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (Santa Ana Mater Dei); 2008 Chelsea Gray (Stockton St. Mary’s); 2007 Christina Marinacci (Tustin Foothill); 2006 Jasmine Dixon (Long Beach Poly); 2005 Kali Bennett (Ventura).

Last 10 State D5 Players of the Year: 2014 Marissa Hing (Los Altos Hills Pinewood); 2013 Kennedy Burke (Chatsworth Sierra Canyon); 2012 Michelle Miller (Pasadena Poly); 2011 Haillie Eackles (Los Altos Hills Pinewood); 2010 Haillie Eackles (Los Altos Hills Pinewood); 2009 Shelly Gupilan (Burbank Bellarmine-Jefferson); 2008 Rachael Bilney (Ross Branson); 2007 Sami Field-Polisso (Los Altos Hills Pinewood); 2006 Jake Kelly (Fair Oaks Sacramento Waldorf); 2005 Daniela Roark (Los Altos Hills Pinewood).

FRESHMEN
Aquira DeCosta (St. Mary’s, Stockton)

It was impossible not to overhear Rams’ head coach Tom Gonsalves comparing his talented freshman to some of the best players in Northern California history — St. Mary’s Ms. Basketball winners Jacki Gemelos and Chelsea Gray – when he was conversing with college coaches. Needless to say, DeCosta is at the same level of those other two at the same age and on her own path to what could be a very memorable prep career.

Photo: Harold Abend.

Photo: Courtesy school.


Despite playing on one of the deepest and most talented teams in the nation, the 6-foot-2 DeCosta was a difference maker for the CIF Open Division state champions. In previous years, some of teams at St. Mary’s have lacked anyone with much an inside presence. DeCosta gave this team that presence from early on and was a major factor in the team winning both the state title and the West Coast Jamboree Platinum Division crown.

Ranked as one of the top Class of 2018 prospects in the nation, DeCosta averaged 12.9 points per game (second on the team) and 7.6 rebounds (led the team). She had 15 points and five rebounds in the final game against Mater Dei and 24 in a win over D1 state champ McClatchy of Sacramento.

In being named State Freshman of the Year, DeCosta actually becomes the first one to ever receive the honor not only from St. Mary’s but from the entire CIF Sac-Joaquin Section.

Last 10 State Freshmen of the Year: 2014 Destiny Littleton (La Jolla Bishop’s); 2013 DiJonae Carrington (San Diego Horizon Christian); 2012 Katie Lou Samuelson (Huntington Beach Edison); 2011 Joesetta Fatuesi (San Jose Presentation); 2010 Kendall “K.C.” Waters (Oakland Bishop O’Dowd); 2009 Jordan Adams (Santa Ana Mater Dei); 2008 Justine Hartman (Brea Olinda); 2007 Chloe Wells (Fontana A.B. Miller); 2006 Christina Marinacci (Tustin Foothill); 2005 Jasmine Dixon (Long Beach Poly).

CIF DIVISION II
Sydney Raggio (St. Ignatius, San Francisco)

This pick was extremely difficult because of the balanced scoring exemplified by almost all of the teams that went far in the D2 state playoffs and teams that were D2 that played in the Open Division.

Raggio emerged as a strong contender since she was the MVP of the powerful West Catholic Athletic League, which produced CIF D2 state champion Archbishop Mitty. St. Ignatius also was D2 and ended up in the NorCal Open Division but early in the season was among the state’s top-ranked teams (including one win over Chaminade of West Hills at the West Coast Jamboree in which Raggio scored 17 points).

A four-year varsity player for the Wildcats along with pal Josie Little, Raggio was the 22-7 team’s leading scorer and rebounder with marks of nearly 12 and 10 per game. She also is headed to a D1 college and will play next at St. Mary’s of the West Coast Conference.

Raggio is the first state player of the year from St. Ignatius in any division. The last one from San Francisco was Jazmine Jackson of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Division III in 2008.

Last 10 State D2 Players of the Year: 2014 Natalie Romeo (Concord Carondelet); 2013 Erica McCall (Bakersfield Ridgeview); 2012 Hannah Huffman (Concord Carondelet); 2011 Ali Gibson (Stockton St. Mary’s); 2010 Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (Santa Ana Mater Dei); 2009 Jonae Ervin (Brea Olinda); 2008 Atonye Nyingfifa (Redondo Beach Redondo Union); 2007 Jeanette Pohlen (Brea Olinda); 2006 Jayne Appel (Concord Carondelet); 2005 Jayne Appel (Concord Carondelet).

CIF DIVISION IV
Kennedy Burke (Sierra Canyon, Chatsworth)

There was a valid reason why Burke didn’t get a state player of the year honor after last season when Sierra Canyon won the second of its three CIF state titles with a championship in D4. She happened to fall into the same D4 classification as Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year Jordin Canada of Los Angeles Windward (that team was in the SoCal Open Division).

This time, there was no doubt. Already named as one of the six Ms. Basketball finalists for this year and already with a D5 State Player of the Year selection for 2013, Burke led the Trailblazers to their third straight state title with 14 points, 14 rebounds, six blocks and three assists in a 69-56 triumph over Brookside Christian of Stockton. The team’s other two state titles were in D5 in 2013 and D4 for last season.

Headed for UCLA, Burke showed during her career that she can play any position on the floor. She also was on the USA U17 national team last summer that won a gold medal. For the season, Burke led Sierra Canyon with 18.2 points, 3.5 assists, 3.3 steals and 3.2 blocks per game.

Last 10 State D4 Players of the Year: 2014 Jordin Canada (Los Angeles Windward); 2013 Kelsey Plum (La Jolla Country Day); 2012 Kelsey Plum (La Jolla Country Day); 2011 Imani Stafford (Los Angeles Windward); 2010 Brandi Henton (Modesto Christian); 2009 Gizelle Studevent (La Jolla Bishop’s); 2008 Alex Cowling (Vallejo St. Patrick-St. Vincent); 2007 Nikki Speed (Los Angeles Marlborough); 2006 Hailey Dunham (Los Angeles Windward); 2005 Courtney Paris (Piedmont).

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at markjtennis@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports


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