St. Mary’s of Stockton four-peats in style in the 3A Division with 21-point win in final over La Jolla Country Day. Bishop’s falls in third-place game to team from the Northwest, but Clovis West wins in fifth-place contest over a different team from the Northwest. Metro San Jose also finishes second in 2A Division.
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 stayed during the week (including Harold) in the heart of the San Diego area’s top attractions.
The 29th Annual San Diego Classic is in the books, and to no one’s surprise defending CIF Open Division state champion St. Mary’s of Stockton was the 3A Division champion for the fourth straight year after a 71-50 victory over defending Division V state champion La Jolla Country Day.
Prior to the St. Mary’s four-peat, the Country Day girls were the last team to win the 3A Division when they snagged the 2011 title with a win against Long Beach Poly.
Just as they did in Pool 1 wins over Arlington (Washington) and Clovis West of Fresno, St. Mary’s took a little time to get rolling. However, once the vaunted all-out and constant full court pressure head coach Tom Gonsalves employs started to take its toll, Country Day just didn’t have the answers despite playing very well.
La Jolla Country Day head coach Terri Bamford went deep into her bag of tricks to try and deflect the effects of the press, and the local favorites actually led 17-15 midway through the first half.
At that point, St. Mary’s turned up the heat and by halftime had a 32-24 lead. When All State Junior First Team selection Kat Tudor hit the second of four 3-pointers to open the second half, the Rams were firmly in control and continued to extend their lead until the final buzzer.
Tudor finished with a team-high 18 points and was under strong consideration for 3A MVP, however that honor went to Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year finalist Mi’Cole Cayton. The incoming senior had 17 points, six steals and three assists. State Freshman of the Year and USA U16 Team member Aquira DeCosta registered a double-double 10 points and 11 rebounds with five steals and two blocks. Angel Johnson (2016) had 10 points, All State sophomore Sierra Smith added seven points, Naje Murray (2017) had five points and Ariel Johnson rounded out the scoring with three points.
Country Day was led by incoming sophomore Jayda Villareal. She hit four 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 22 points.
There have been some good teams that have won the 3A Division but San Diego Classic Tournament Director Wade Vickery made it clear he felt this year’s St. Mary’s team may be the finest to ever grace his tournament.
“The Mater Dei (Santa Ana) team in 2009 with Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis as a junior was pretty strong, Brea Olinda has had some great teams, and the St. Mary’s teams that won the last three years are right up there too, but I really believe this year’s St. Mary’s team was the best ever at the San Diego Classic.”
St. Mary’s punched its ticket to the title game with a 50-28 semifinal victory over Bishop’s of La Jolla.
The game featured a matchup of two State Players of the Year for their class, DeCosta and sophomore selection Destiny Littleton of Bishop’s. Littleton won the scoring battle after finishing with 20 points, but despite only scoring four points DeCosta dominated the paint and had 10 rebounds and five blocks, with three coming against Littleton. Cayton had a team-high 15 points and three assists, and Murray added 12 points with four rebounds and three steals.
Country Day pulled off what many thought was the biggest upset of the tournament when it spoiled a re-match of last year’s title game with a 51-49 overtime victory against perennial national power Oregon City from the Portland area.
In that game, Villareal made five 3-pointers and finished with 17 points. At one point in the first half, she hit four straight treys that completely changed the momentum and turned an early deficit into a 29-25 halftime lead.
Vanderbilt-bound Cierra Walker (2016) led all scorers with 22 points including three 3-pointers with two from NBA range. Incoming junior sensation N’Dea Flye added 13 points.
In the third-place game, Oregon City defeated an undermanned Bishop’s in a 47-25 victory. Flye led the way with 11 points and 10 rebounds and Jordan Kelly (2016) added 10 points.
Bishop’s got 18 points from Littleton but the team did not have outside shooter Alessandra Aguirre. After making a 3-point shot to beat Pinewood (Los Altos Hills) in a 42-40 quarterfinal victory, Aguirre broke her wrist in the St. Mary’s loss.
In the fifth-place game, Clovis West (Fresno) was a 44-39 winner over a very solid Arlington (Washington) from the Seattle area. Megan Anderson had nine points, Bre’yanna Sanders had eight points and nine rebounds, and Danae Marquez also had eight points. Incoming freshman Madison Campbell hit two 3-pointers but left the game after a collision with one of the Arlington big girls. Campbell is the daughter of Clovis West head coach Craig Campbell.
The seventh-place game saw Pinewood take a 57-43 victory over CIF San Diego Section Open Division champion Mission Hills of San Marcos. All-State junior Chloe Eackles led Pinewood with 16 points. All State sophomore Kayla Rooks was high for Mission Hills with 13 points. Pinewood played the tournament without All State freshman Stella Kailahi.
The 2A championship went to Seton Catholic (Chandler, Arizona) in a 46-31 victory over Metro San Jose. The Arizona girls were led by Kendall Krick (2018) with 18 points, including four 3-pointers. Metro San Jose got 11 points (three 3-pointers) from M.C. Simone (2016) and Sharon Roldan (2018) hit three treys for nine points.
San Diego Classic rules say all players must be from the same high school even though some teams use nicknames or the name of the school mascot. West Catholic Athletic League rules also prohibit league coaches from coaching the girls during the summer as a high school team.
To comply with league and tournament rules, all the girls from Metro San Jose that played in San Diego attend Presentation (San Jose), but Presentation head coach Wade Nakamura coached the team using his AAU team name with no players from any other school that play for San Jose Metro able to play in San Diego.
The 1A championship for JV teams was won by South Torrance (Torrance), 36-29, over Oregon City.
Tropical storm Dolores brought rain to the San Diego Classic for the first time in the tournament’s history but it didn’t impact play on the court or attendance at the games.
Also, although the “dead period” precludes NCAA Division I coaches from viewing the event, over 100 lower division and junior college coaches attended the tournament, including host UC San Diego head coach Heidi VanDerveer.
Since the little sister of Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer was named UCSD coach in 2012, one of the highlights of the Girls of Summer Caravan’s stints in San Diego is watching games and talking girls basketball with Coach VanDerveer.
Plans for the 30th annual San Diego Classic next summer already are underway.
Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend