More State Girls Players of the Year

Valerie Higgins has added D1 State Player of Year honor to already being named  CIFSS Open Division Player of Year and L.A. Times Player of Year. Photo: Andrew Drennen.

Valerie Higgins has added D1 State Player of Year honor to already being named CIFSS Open Division Player of Year and L.A. Times Player of Year. Photo: Andrew Drennen.


We also choose honorees for juniors, sophomores and freshmen and for each CIF division. The most difficult this year might have been for the ninth graders. We also could have had co-players of the year in a couple of places. There are three players of the year from the CIF Southern Section with two from the North Coast and one each from San Diego, the Sac-Joaquin and Central Coast.

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For official writeup on the 2015-16 Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year, CLICK HERE.

Congratulations to these girls players for being selected as a Cal-Hi Sports State Player of the Year. Writeups by Mark Tennis & Paul Muyskens. Stay tuned for the release next week of the 36th annual Cal-Hi Sports All-State Teams. Here is a complete list of our girls basketball individual honorees for the 2015-16 season:

(Note: Players from teams that competed in the NorCal or SoCal Open Divisions were considered for the CIF divisions their teams would have played in had they not been moved up to the open division. For schools that were Open Division for their section, their players are all being considered Division I unless they were on teams moved back into a CIF division for the regional playoffs.)

JUNIORS
Destiny Littleton (Bishop’s, La Jolla)

Before her high school career is finished, this Cal-Hi Sports Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year finalist could hold the state record for career points.

Littleton averaged 35.7 points per game this season . Photo: Harold Abend.

Littleton averaged 35.7 points per game this season . Photo: Harold Abend.


Littleton scored 1,178 points this season to improve her career total to 2,934 points, which also puts Charde Houston’s 3,837 career points in sight to pass next season.

A state stat star regular, she averaged 35.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4.0 steals and 2.9 assists per game for the Knights, who finished the season ranked inside of our state top 20 rankings.

Twice she scored a season-high 52 points in a game while she also scored 51 points in Bishop’s final win of the season, an 88-61 win over Torrey Pines of San Diego.

Yet to commit, the San Diego Section Player of the Year (in one of the best classes of players we’ve ever seen from that section) also is one of the top Class of ’17 recruits in the nation. Littleton also is just the fourth player from the San Diego Section to be named State Junior of the Year. The other three have been Kelsey Plum of La Jolla Country Day (2011), Chris Enger of Vista (1988) and Terri Mann of Point Loma (1986).

Last 10 State Juniors of the Year: 2015 Sabrina Ionescu (Orinda Miramonte); 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).

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

While the Rams were one of those teams that had three legitimate player of the year candidates, DeCosta was the one who primarily led them to their biggest wins of the season at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona and is a player who has surged to near the top of all national Class of 2018 recruiting lists.

Last year’s State Freshman of the Year posted 27 points, five rebounds and eight steals in the team’s semifinal win at the TOC over Archbishop Mitty of San Jose. Then in the championship game against Riverdale Baptist of Maryland (another of the nation’s top-ranked teams), DeCosta racked up 22 points with 19 rebounds and four blocks.

As the nation’s No. 1 team for almost the entire season, we felt the Rams needed to have at least one representative on the final Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year list of finalists and she was the one chosen. She averaged 15 points and nearly 10 rebounds per game.

DeCosta, who was on the U.S. National U-15 team last summer, also is the third from St. Mary’s to be State Sophomore of the Year, following Jacki Gemelos from 2004 and Chelsea Gray form 2008.

Last 10 State Sophomores of the Year: 2015 Destiny Littleton (La Jolla Bishop’s); 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).

WNBA superstar Skylar Diggins visited with Osborne and teammates early in the season. Photo: Twitter.com.

WNBA superstar Skylar Diggins visited with Osborne and teammates early in the season. Photo: Twitter.com.


FRESHMEN
Charisma Osborne (Windward, Los Angeles)

This was not an easy selection – we’d have to say that San Jose Archbishop Mitty’s Haley Jones was runner-up – and even though Osborne didn’t play for the Wildcats until January she certainly had enough explosive outings against top competition to gain this selection.

In helping Windward win twice in the CIF Southern Section Open Division, Osborne averaged a team-best 15.3 points per game with 6.8 rebounds and 3.2 steals. In one of those CIFSS Open Division games against Vista Murrieta of Murrieta, Osborne poured in 33 points and had 10 rebounds.

“It’s tough to be a freshman and be the go-to scorer for your team, but Charisma grew a lot as a player this season and has a very bright future,” said Windward head coach Vanessa Nygaard. “She’s athletic, strong, with deep 3-point range and a good feel for the game.”

Osborne becomes the first player from Windward to ever be selected as State Freshman of the Year. She’ll have to keep working hard and improving, however, to eventually match Windward’s Jordin Canada in 2014, who was our Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year.

Last 10 State Freshmen of the Year: 2015 Aquira De Costa (Stockton St. Mary’s); 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).

DIVISION I
Valerie Higgins (Chaminade, West Hills) Sr.

If there was a year to have co-players of the year, then Higgins and teammate Leaonna Odom of the Open Division state champ Eagles probably would qualify. That’s just not part of the Cal-Hi Sports’ system so Higgins has gotten the nod after carefully looking through everything.

While Odom came on strong down the stretch, including a game-winning 3-pointer that beat Long Beach Poly in the SoCal Open Division final and 33 points with 15 rebounds against Miramonte in the Open Division state final, Higgins was regarded by most observers as having had the superior overall season.

Many coaches who were contacted about Ms. Basketball – both Higgins and Odom were finalists – voted for Higgins if they had to choose and the L.A. Times also has named her as its Player of the Year for Southern California. Plus, the four-year standout, who played point guard and also was the team’s top defender, was the CIF Southern Section Open Division Player of the Year.

For the season, Higgins (who will play next at USC) averaged 20.4 points with 10.6 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game. She is the first player from the San Fernando Valley to be chosen as Division I State Player of the Year.

Last 10 State D1 Players of the Year: 2015 Katie Lou Samuelson (Santa Ana Mater Dei); 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).

DIVISION II
Kayla Washington (Cajon, San Bernardino) Sr.

With Cajon going into the D2 bracket for the CIF SoCal regional playoffs, both Washington and head coach Mark Lehman also were qualified to be D2 for state honors. In addition to being the D2 State Coach of the Year, Lehman also was named earlier this week as the overall State Coach of the Year. Washington is not Ms. Basketball, but the four-year standout is a solid pick as the D2 Player of the Year.

In Cajon’s 55-36 triumph over Elk Grove in the CIF D2 state final, Washington shined with 17 points and 15 rebounds. She averaged 22.4 points and 13.5 rebounds per game with a season best of 31 points and 26 rebounds in a win vs. Redlands East Valley.

For her four-year career, the future player at Washington State has reported totals of 2,536 points (will make the state record book) and 1,789 rebounds (also will make the state record book). Her career averages were 22.4 for points, 15.8 for rebounds, 3.7 for steals, 2.3 for assists and 1.3 for blocks.

Washington becomes the first from Cajon and the fifth from the Inland Empire to be D2 State Player of the Year although Layshia Clarendon of the Cowgirls was the D1 pick in 2009 when she also was Ms. Basketball. The others from the Inland Empire who’ve been D2 POY have been LaCresha Flannigan of San Bernardino (1997), Maylana Martin of Perris (1996), Shelda Arcenaux of Alta Loma (1982) and Cheryl Miller of Riverside Poly (1979).

Last 10 State D2 Players of the Year: 2015 Sydney Raggio (San Francisco St. Ignatius); 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).

DIVISION III
Sabrina Ionescu (Miramonte, Orinda) Sr.

Since Miramonte was D3 for the CIF North Coast Section playoffs, Ionescu would be D3 for the state honors as well. If the NCS had its own Open Division and Miramonte had been in it, then Ionescu and head coach Kelly Sopak (he’s already been named as the D3 State Coach of the Year) would have been considered D1 for state honors. Sabrina also was the D3 State POY last season and as a sophomore in 2014. The last D3 State POY from the CIF North Coast Section before Ionescu’s three-peat was Corrie Mizusawa from Acalanes of Lafayette in 1999.

Last 10 State D3 Players of the Year: 2015 Sabrina Ionescu (Orinda Miramonte); 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).

Minyon Moore will play next at USC. Photo: Harold Abend.

Minyon Moore will play next at USC. Photo: Harold Abend.


DIVISION IV
Minyon Moore (Salesian, Richmond) Sr.

While she didn’t earn overall State Player of the Year honors, Minyon was a finalist for Ms. Basketball and earns this honor after leading the Pride to a win in the CIF NorCal Open Division playoffs over Archbishop Mitty of San Jose.

Also, under this year’s criteria, since Salesian was D4 for its section playoffs, it’s players and coach were considered D4 for state honors. Pride head coach Stephen Pezzola already has been chosen as our D4 State Coach of the Year.

In the win over the Monarchs, Moore had a season-high 40 points to go along with nine steals, five assists and four rebounds as the Pride picked up their final win of the season.

Headed to USC, the younger sister of Louisville standout Mariya Moore averaged 21 points, 5.2 steals, 4.8 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game.

There have been a number of CIF North Coast Section girls who’ve been D4 State Player of the Year. Minyon’s sister didn’t get it two years ago even as runner-up for Ms. Basketball because that season Windward of Los Angeles also was D4 and had Ms. Basketball winner Jordin Canada.

Last 10 State D4 Players of the Year: 2015 Kennedy Burke (Chatsworth Sierra Canyon); 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).

DIVISION V
Kayla Tahaafe (Eastside College Prep, E. Palo Alto) Soph.

On a Panthers’ team that had no juniors or seniors, this sophomore captain led the way by averaging 15.2 points per game while also leading them in rebounds.

Although she didn’t have a great first half, Tahaafe was the best player on the floor in the CIF Division V state final when Eastside rallied for a 57-50 win over Village Christian of Sun Valley. She ended with 15 points and seven rebounds as the Panthers captured their first-ever state championship. H

Kayla’s biggest game of the year was early on in the season when she had 35 points during a 59-58 loss to St. Ignatius of San Francisco while late in the season she had 25 points in a playoff win over Urban of San Francisco.

Tahaafe, a first team All-San Jose Mercury-News selection, is the first D5 POY from Eastside, which in many years has had players beaten out for honors by nearby Pinewood (Los Altos Hills). This year, Pinewood was Open Division for the CIF Central Coast Section and was Open Division for the NorCal playoffs so it’s players will be Division I for state honors.

Last 10 State D5 Players of the Year: 2015 Destiny Littleton (La Jolla Bishop’s); 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).

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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