Girls of Summer: Early viewing recap

The Orinda Magic girls pose in Portland where they competed in the End of the Trail tournament. They head to Anaheim this weekend to kick off the second half of the NCAA viewing period before coming back to the Bay Area for their final NCAA certified event in two weeks. Courtesy photo.

The Orinda Magic girls pose in Portland where they competed in the End of the Trail tournament. They head to Anaheim this weekend to kick off the second half of the NCAA viewing period before coming back to the Bay Area where they will compete in their final NCAA certified event in two weeks. Courtesy photo.

(This is part 2 of a two-part recap) After Part I focused on what happened at two big events in Southern California, Part II goes in-depth about what happened to top NorCal club teams at events in Oregon and Chicago, including Cal Stars Nike Elite taking top honors at the End of the Trail tourney in Oregon.

NOTE: We hope you enjoy this free story on It is free due to writer/analyst Harold Abend being sponsored for his travel by two well-known AAU programs – the Orinda Magic and Cal Stars — plus the recent San Diego Classic. Please thank those programs and the San Diego Classic for their support of these articles. If you want to see all of our premium content in all sports, please also consider signing up to become a Gold Club member. You can get started for just $9.99 for three months. For details, CLICK HERE

With the conclusion of the San Diego Classic on July 3, there was a short two-day respite before the Girls of Summer Caravan resumed its coverage with two NCAA certified viewing events in Southern California that kicked off the first half of the NCAA July viewing period when Division I college coaches can observe the girls in action live.

While the Girls of Summer Caravan was in Southern California and then also covering boys in San Francisco during the first half of the NCAA Certified Events Viewing period, there were other top California club teams in action, including the Orinda Magic Black and Cal Stars Nike Elite plus other Cal Stars teams that went north to the End of the Trail held July 5-8 in the metro Portland, Oregon area.

Claire Steele already has a lot of CIF NorCal and state title game experience for Orinda Miramonte. Photo: Mark Tennis.

Claire Steele already has a lot of CIF NorCal and state title game experience for Orinda Miramonte. Photo: Mark Tennis.

The third place game in the Columbia Division came down to the two East Bay club rivals and it was the Cal Stars Nike Flight defeating Orinda Magic Black.

Claire Steele, an incoming junior guard at Orinda Miramonte and Malia Holt, a 2017 from Bishop Manogue of Reno, Nevada, were named all-tournament for the Cal Stars Flight. Incoming Richmond Salesian 6-foot-5 sophomore post Angel Jackson, who averaged a double-double 14 points and 12 rebounds (five blocks) for the tournament, and fellow incoming Salesian sophomore and 5-foot-10 power forward Mikayla Edwards, who is beginning to round into shape after missing the spring schedule, were the all-tourney selections from the Orinda Magic.

In the top division played at the End of the Trail called the Pacific Division, it was Cal Stars Nike Elite finishing 7-0 after a victory in the title game over Alaska Hoops Gold 17. In the semifinals, they defeated the Northwest Blazers, the national No. 1 Adidas sponsored team comprised of local girls from the Portland area.

With the championship, the Cal Stars Nike Elite has now won back-to-back titles in the top division of the End of the Trail.

State Sophomore of the Year and Ms. Basketball finalist, and USA U17 team member Aquira DeCosta, a 6-foot-2 incoming junior from Stockton St. Mary’s, was named the MVP of the Pacific Division.

Four other Cal Stars Nike Elite players were named all-tournament: Jordan Cruz, a 5-foot-10 incoming senior guard from Sacramento McClatchy, Shalexxus Aaron, a 6-foot-1 incoming senior forward who just moved from Washington to Apple Valley in Southern California, Elle Louie, a 5-foot-11 incoming senior guard from Miramonte, and Taycee Wedin, a 2017 guard from La Salle Catholic in South Salem, Oregon.

Besides those five, there will be other girls from Cal Stars Nike Elite that make the player rankings. They include: incoming junior Stockton St. Mary’s guards Neenah Young and Ariel Johnson, plus 2017 Manteca 6-foot-3 post Loretta Kakala.

The Cal Stars 2020 Future Red, comprised of all but one girl from Alameda and Contra Costa counties, finished second in their division. The one girl not from the Bay Area, Kenna Holt, from Reno, was one of two MVPs of the White Division. Maila Lepolo and Malia Mastor, both from Alameda, were named all-tournament.

From Portland, the Orinda Magic moved on to Chicago for the Nike Tournament of Champions held at McCormick Place.
Orinda Magic logo
The Magic finished second in their pool after starting out with a win over Team Pizzazz from Chicago in a game incoming Dublin junior 5-foot-10 guard Sila Finau rebounded from a hip flexor problem that limited her at the End of the Trail with a 15-point and four-rebound performance.

From there, after flying in the night before, the Magic had to follow up the 9 a.m. game with Team Pizzazz by playing and losing to eventual pool winner Central Maryland Attitude with Finau leading the way again with 12 points and four steals with three 3-pointers.

On the second day in Chicago, the Magic lost a close game to EOSC from Ohio but rebounded to win their second game over United of New Jersey. On day three, the Bay Area girls pulled off an upset after a stunning 56-37 victory over the Chicago-based Lady Raptors. As she did all tournament, it was Finau controlling the pace with Jackson and Edwards also shining.

Besides Jackson, Finau and Edwards, other girls who played well in Chicago were incoming California (San Ramon) junior guard Mikaela Bismillah, Salesian 2019 guard Nia Chinn, California 2017 forward Marley Fernandes, incoming Salesian sophomore guard Anjel Galbraith, and sharpshooting California 2018 Gabriela Edmond.

The Cal Stars went to Nashville, Tennessee where they went 4-1 in the Nike EYBL (Elite Youth Basketball League) Session II at the prestigious Battle in the Boro at the Music City Center.

They have not been as dominating this season as last in the Nike EYBL but Cal Stars Nike Elite was still 6-4 after finishing in fourth place in their league. They now head to the July 23-25 Nike Tournament of Champions in Atlanta, Georgia and then they move on to the Nike Nationals from July 27-30 in North Augusta, South Carolina.

The Cal Stars Nike Elite is seeded No. 12 of the top 24 teams nationwide invited to South Carolina. The Cal Stars 15U Nike Elite also qualified for the Junior Nike Nationals in South Carolina, making the Cal Stars program the only one in California to qualify two teams.
The 15U Nike Elite team stars Carondelet-Concord incoming 6-foot-3 sophomore Ali Bamberger, Carondelet 2019 guard Emily Howie, Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) incoming junior Rainah Smith, Brentwood Heritage 2019 guard Jordan Sweeney, Valley Christian (San Jose) 2018 guard Nyah Willis, and Heritage 2018 wing Mikaila Wegenke.

Of note is that Cal Stars Nike Elite and incoming Stockton St. Mary’s star guard Naje Murray injured her MCL just prior to the End of the Trail and missed that event. She tried to come back in Nashville but things were not right and she is now sidelined pending an MRI this coming Friday.

San Jose Cagers update

The San Jose Cagers have had a great first half of the viewing period and according to head coach and Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) head coach Sue Phillips the offers for her girls are mounting.

You can't say San Jose Mitty's Haley Jones is having a breakout summer because everyone already knew how good she is. Photo: Harold Abend.

You can’t say San Jose Mitty’s Haley Jones is having a breakout summer because everyone already knew how good she is. Photo: Harold Abend.

The Cagers played in one of the top divisions at the End of the Trail called the Multnomah Division and went 4-1 to finish second after losing in the title game to the Spokane Stars Blue from Washington.

Incoming Archbishop Mitty senior 5-foot-10 wing Madeline Holland was named to the All-Tournament team as was incoming Mitty junior 6-foot wing Karisma Ortiz and Mitty incoming 6-foot sophomore wing and State Freshman of the Year runner-up Haley Jones.

From Oregon, the Cagers also went to the Nike TOC in Chicago where they won the Prague 17U Division after beating a very solid Team Ontario Red from Canada in the Pool A final and then coming from 12 points down to post a 71-61 victory in the title game over Pool B winner Team Arizona Red Elite.

Holland, Ortiz and Jones all made the All-Tournament team as did incoming 6-foot-2 Mitty senior post Tahlia Garza.

The Orinda Magic will finish up their viewing period schedule at the July 23-25 MSNM “The Dream” in Anaheim at the American Sports Center and then come home for the July 27-29 EBX Summer in the City at Chabot College in Hayward.

The Girls of Summer Caravan heads to Lake Las Vegas in Henderson, Nevada this week for the Cal Sparks July 23-25 Ballin in the Ballroom at the Westin where the San Jose Cagers will complete their summer season. From there, the final event covered live will be the EBX Summer in the City.

At the conclusion of the second half of the viewing period, where Division I college coaches can watch players live at NCAA certified events, the Girls of Summer Player Rankings with short evaluations will be released in August. All girls mentioned in this feature will be included plus others from their teams as well. At this point it’s looking like there will be over 100 girls in the rankings. Those rankings and lists, remember, will be for Cal-Hi Sports Gold Club members only. If you’re not a member, sign up today.

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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