San Diego Classic: Halfway done

Two all-state level players who went up against each other in Friday's San Diego Classic were Kayla Rooks (left) of Mission Hills and Chloe Eackles of Pinewood. Photo: Harold Abend.

Two all-state level players who faced off in Friday’s San Diego Classic were Kayla Rooks (left) of Mission Hills and Chloe Eackles of Pinewood. Photo: Harold Abend.

No real surprises at San Diego Classic midway point, but there were some entertaining pool play division finals, especially Pinewood vs. Mission Hills and La Jolla Country Day vs. Clovis West. Look for a full Girls of Summer report from all of the action in this event early next week.

Note: Thanks to the Orinda Magic club team, West Coast Jamboree and CalStars club team for supporting analyst Harold Abend in his annual Girls of Summer series of stops at many of California leading summer tournaments. Appreciation also goes out to the Mission Valley Sheraton in San Diego, a great place people are staying this week (including Harold) in the heart of the San Diego area’s top attractions.

With the halfway point of the 29th annual San Diego Classic concluded on Friday night, it really comes as no surprise that the winners of the four eight-team letter pools of the 3A Division include two 2014-15 CIF state champions, a multiple previous CIF state champion and one of the top-ranked teams from Oregon.

With initial pool play concluded in the A, B, C and D Pools the four winners are now matched up with various second-place finishers (other th,an the team they beat) to make up the eight teams in Pool 1 play that will compete for the 3A title.
SD Classic 2015
State Team of the Year and CIF Open Division state champion, and three-time defending 3A champion St. Mary’s of Stockton looked a little sloppy in a 56-32 Pool A title- ame victory over Arlington, Washington, but nonetheless the Rams are rolling so far in their quest to win a fourth straight title in the San Diego Classic’s top division.

All State Junior First Team selection Kat Tudor led the way against Arlington with 16 points, including four three-pointers. Naje Murray (2017) continued her excellent play this summer and finished with 14 points. Ms. Basketball finalist Mi’Cole Cayton (2016) only had eight points but her leadership showed in a somewhat shaky effort by a team most every state and national analyst feels will be the California and nation’s top team to begin the 2015-16 season.

St. Mary’s began play on Friday with a 73-14 trouncing of Valley Vista (Moreno Valley) in a game where head coach Tom Gonsalves emptied the bench early. Ariel Johnson (2018) scored a game-high 16 points, Tudor had 12 points with three three-pointers, and Cayton finished with 10 points.

Saturday morning action for St. Mary’s saw the Rams take on Pool D runner up Clovis West of Fresno in an 11 a.m. contest.

By far the best match-up in the four letter pool finals was the Pool B championship that saw CIF Central Coast Section runner-up and six-time state champion Pinewood (Los Altos Hills) overcome a 20-11 first half deficit to post a 55-51 victory over CIF San Diego Section Open Division champion Mission Hills of San Marcos.
The game featured a match-up of All State Division V selection Chloe Eackles (2016) of Pinewood and Division I First Team and First Team Sophomore All-State post Kayla Rooks of Mission Hills. The 5-foot-11 Eackles gave up size and height to the 6-foot-1 Rooks but held her own, although Rooks finished with 23 points and 17 rebounds in a losing effort. Eackles had 15 points, nine rebounds, four assists, three blocks and three steals.

Pinewood had eight girls convert a three-point shot. The guard duo of incoming junior Akayla Hackson and Briana Claros (2018) each had two treys. Both played very well and were keys to the Pinewood victory.

Pinewood began play on Friday with a 46-35 victory over South Torrance. Eackles led the way with 18 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and four steals.

La Jolla Country Day, whose campus is just across the I-5 from where the 3A games are played at the RIMAC Center at UC San Diego, opened Friday’s action with a 62-34 victory over Corona Centennial. The defending CIF Division V state champions then faced CIF Division I Central Section champion Clovis West in the title game. Clovis West punched its ticket with a 55-43 victory over Northern Regional Division IV runner-up Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa.

The Pool D championship was a defensive affair with Country Day coming away with a 43-35 victory. First Team All State Junior Mai-Loni Henson followed up a 16-point effort against Centennial with 14 points and 11 rebounds against Clovis West. Bianca Notarainni (2018) added 12 points.

In Pool C, it was 2014 3A runner-up Oregon City with too much firepower for the local girls from Bishop’s of La Jolla. State Sophomore of the Year Destiny Littleton had 23 points but the rest of the team struggled in a 57-37 loss. Vanderbilt-bound Cierra Walker led Oregon City with 18 points.

La Jolla Country Day faces Arlington in its noon quarterfinal. Pinewood faces off at noon against Bishop’s, and Oregon City had an 11 a.m. date with Mission Hills.

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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