The 35th annual Cal-Hi Sports All-State girls basketball teams continues with these 20 players featured prominently on second & third team overall. With so many injuries, there were some girls honored who missed more than a couple of games. Also, comparisons among girls who competed in Open Divisions both at the section and statewide level vs. those who didn’t seem to be getting more difficult every year.
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2017 CAL-HI SPORTS ALL-STATE
ELITE GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAMS
SECOND TEAM OVERALL
G – Shalexxus Aaron (M.L. King, Riverside) 6-1, Sr.
After moving to Washington and then back to Southern California in 2016 it was obvious after seeing Aaron as a member of the Cal Stars Nike Elite team last spring and summer that she was going to have a super season, although at that time it wasn’t clear where she would play her senior year. She landed at King and in early November the ESPN No. 14 rated senior wing accepted an offer from USC and then proceeded to have the kind of season that made her the Riverside Press-Enterprise Player of the Year as well as an All CIFSS selection after she averaged more than 20 points a game and led King to a 28-2 season. Had Aaron not torn her meniscus in a CIFSS Division 1-A semifinal loss to Bishop Montgomery, the Wolves may very well have been in the hunt for a state championship.
G – Jayda Adams (Mater Dei, Santa Ana)
For a lot of teams, the kind of finish the Monarchs had would be a dream season, but at Mater Dei, where state championships are part of the norm, a CIF Southern Regional Division II championship and then a runner-up in the D2 state title game is a little short of the goals set at the beginning of the season. Still, for the Duke-bound Adams, a veteran of USA basketball and a senior leader on a very young Monarchs team, it was a solid season. She averaged 13.1 points per game and made 73 three-pointers, 3.8 assists and 2.8 steals a game and always had to guard the opposing team’s top player.
W – Madeline Holland (Archbishop Mitty, San Jose) 5-11, Sr.
The Mitty star makes the second team for the second straight season after being only one of three juniors last year to be selected. The San Francisco Chronicle and Bay Area News Group First Team selection was second on the team in all three major statistical categories after averaging 12.6 points on a team with nine players averaging five points or better per game, 8.0 rebounds and 3.1 assists. Holland had 23 points and eight rebounds in the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division playoff victory over Pinewood of Los Altos Hills, 24 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in a NorCal Open win over Stockton St. Mary’s, 20 points and nine rebounds in the NorCal Open title-game victory over Cardinal Newman, and 11 points with seven rebounds in the 44-40 CIF Open Division state title-game loss to Clovis West.
F – Jasmine Jones (Long Beach Poly, Long Beach) 6-0, Sr.
The Long Beach Press Telegram Co-Player of the Year along with teammate Ayanna Clark is another second team repeater from last season. The Loyola Marymount-bound Jones had very similar numbers to last season as she averaged 12.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.5 steals and 2.6 assists per game. Her high water mark for points was 30 with 13 rebounds against Maryland Rock Creek Christian Academy at the Nike TOC. Jones had 17 points and 11 rebounds in the Jackrabbits’ overtime loss to Clovis West at the Iolani Classic in Hawaii, and a solid 19 points and 11 rebounds in a CIF Southern Section Open semifinal win over Troy.
F – Aubrey Knight (Ventura) 6-1, Sr.
Despite a late start due to her exploits on the volleyball court where she helped the Cougars win the CIF Southern Section Division II title, Knight had a stellar season in her primary sport of basketball. She led Ventura with 15.3 points and also had 8.4 rebounds per game and was named the Ventura County Star Player of the Year. Headed for the University of Colorado to play basketball, Knight also led the Cougars to the CIF Southern California Division I final where they lost to eventual state champ Windward of Los Angeles. Known for her great motor, some have said Aubrey is one of the best girls athletes to ever come from Ventura. She’s also proof that excelling at a very high level in two sports really can’t hurt.
G – Danae Marquez (Clovis West, Fresno)
Until her teammate Sarah Bates took over in the CIF Open Division state title game victory over Archbishop Mitty, it was Marquez that was looking like she would get the top individual all-state placement for the Golden Eagles girls. Still Second Team elite status for the San Jose State-bound point guard and floor general is pretty darn good. She played solid defense in the Mitty win and had nine points including two free-throws with 5.4 seconds left that provided the final margin of the 44-40 victory. On the season she averaged 9.2 points, 6.3 assists and 3.7 steals a game. Balancing out the Clovis West honors for such a memorable team was one of the biggest challenges for this year’s selections. Going by the local Fresno Bee, which had the same problem, it had Marquez as its Player of the Year last season and this season had Marquez and teammate Bre’yanna Sanders as Co-Players of the Year.
W – Alaysia Styles (La Jolla Country Day) 6-2, Sr.
The long and sleek girl they call “Birdy” who can handle the ball like a guard and shoots the three-pointer moves up from third team last year, and had Country Day not been decimated by injuries and done better on the season the Cal-bound Styles might have been a first-teamer with the kind of numbers she put up. The ESPN No. 16 rated senior wing averaged 20.9 points and 12.8 rebounds per game for a team that despite the injuries still made it to the semifinals of the CIF Southern Regional Division I playoffs before bowing out to eventual state champion Windward.
F – Jayla Ruffus-Milner (Harvard-Westlake, North Hollywood) 5-11, Jr.
The L.A. Daily News Player of the Year and Co Player of the Year for the CIF Southern Section Open Division along with Ayanna Clark of Long Beach Poly was the top player on Harvard-Westlake although her twin sister Jayda was pretty good as well and got considerable consideration for one of these top three elite teams as well. On the season, Ruffus-Milner averaged 15.0 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.4 steals and 2.3 assists per game while leading the Wolverines into the CIFSS Open Division title game where they lost to Long Beach Poly. Two of her best performances came against Santa Ana Mater Dei when in a December win she had 27 points and nine rebounds, and then in the CIFSS Open first round she had 22 points in a close win.
P – Haley Van Dyke (Campolindo, Moraga) 6-0, Jr.
Not a lot of underclass players make either first or second team elite status but Van Dyke certainly has the numbers. In fact, if it was only about numbers, she could have been first team. What it came down to was competitive equity. Van Dyke set the CIF NorCal regional finals record with 46 points and had 13 rebounds in the 78-56 NorCal Division III title game victory over St. Mary’s of Berkeley and averaged 23.1 points, 15.7 rebounds, 4.9 steals, 3.8 assists and 3.5 blocks per game. Whether D3 or not, that’s pretty impressive. Her 25 rebounds in the CIF Division III state title game 62-45 loss to Rosary-Fullerton also tied a CIF title game record. In addition, Van Dyke had 29 points, 16 rebounds and eight steals in a win and 21 points and 17 rebounds in a loss to Richmond Salesian.
F – Hailey Vice-Neat (Cardinal Newman, Santa Rosa) 6-3, Sr.
Vice-Neat was not the kind of loud, rah-rah leader that some players like to be, but because of her leadership there’s a reason “Chief” is her nickname, and there’s no question the Boise-State bound senior was the linchpin of the CIF North Coast Section Division IV champions and CIF Northern Regional Open Division runners-up. Since she showed up at Newman, the Cardinals have won four straight North Bay League regular season and playoff titles, a CIF D4 state championship last season, and this year’s team that won a first-ever CIFNCS title and made the deep Open Division playoff run. On a deep team, she still had very solid numbers after averaging 12.2 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.8 steals and 2.6 blocks a game. But in a lot of games against state-ranked opponents her vise-like defense against the opponent’s top scorer usually was the difference.
2017 CAL-HI SPORTS ALL-STATE
ELITE GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAMS
THIRD TEAM OVERALL
W – McKenzie Forbes (Folsom) 6-1, Jr.
The Sacramento Bee didn’t have Forbes as its top player but there are a few cases in which our all-state honors don’t match. The Cal-committed daughter of Sterling Forbes Jr. and grandfather of Sterling Forbes, both of whom played for the Harlem Globetrotters, plus three older brothers that played basketball including standout twin and Folsom star Mason Forbes, has carved out her own niche as the baby of the family. Besides leading the Bulldogs to a 10-2 season in the tough Sierra Foothill League, she then led No. 9 seed Folsom to Northern Regional Division I upsets of Castro Valley and then top-seeded Menlo-Atherton before losing in the semifinals to El Dorado Hills Oak Ridge. She’s also generally considered the No. 2 college prospect in the state for the Class of 2018 behind Stockton St. Mary’s standout Aquira DeCosta.
G – Chelsey Gipson (Palisades, Pacific Palisades) 5-7, Sr.
There was an error in the compilation of the third team and for the Open Division/Division I listings that didn’t initially include Gipson. If she had been considered and not selected, we don’t make any additions to these teams. This was a mistake, however, we made on our end and felt in the end that needed to be fixed. Gipson had 27 points in that playoff loss to La Jolla Country Day and averaged 24 ppg. She was the L.A. City Section Player of the Year and averaged more than 20 ppg for the last three seasons she played for the Dolphins after playing at Windward of Los Angeles as a freshman. Chelsey will play next at Loyola Marymount.
G – Alexis Griggsby (Sierra Canyon, Chatsworth) 5-8, Sr.
Despite missing time with a broken nose and then after coming back with a mask she injured her ankle in a CIF Southern Open Division opening round win over West Hills Chaminade that knocked her out of action for two games, Griggsby came back a second time to lead the Trailblazers to a win over always tough Brea-Olinda. However, in the CIF Southern Regional Division I semifinals Griggsby’s and the team’s season ended in a heartbreaking 3-point loss to league arch rival and eventual state champion Windward. On the season, the Long Beach State-bound Griggsby averaged 18.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.0 steals per game and for her career she had over 1,400 points and 600 rebounds.
C – Angel Jackson (Salesian, Richmond) 6-5, Soph.
If Ayanna Clark and Loretta Kakala of Manteca are the top two true posts in the state, then Jackson is No. 3, and so the only one of three sophomores besides Haley Jones and Charisma Osborne to make the top 30 in the state gets a spot on the third team with Kakala. When the top player on a team that had no senior starters after Sierra Smith went down with an injury leads her team into the NorCal Open Division it really says something about the level of play Jackson showed all season. Had she not been pulled early in some league blowouts she would have higher numbers than her 11.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and 5.8 blocks per game averages. She had a tough game in an early season loss to Campolindo, but in the rematch in the CIF North Coast Section D3 playoffs Jackson went for a triple-double with a season-high 25 points together with 12 rebounds and 10 blocks. The scariest thing about Jackson is she’s just going to get a lot better.
C – Loretta Kakala (Manteca) 6-3, Sr.
Off the court, the best friend of first team selection Aquira DeCosta is always smiling and cheery but once she steps on the floor the ESPN No. 2 rated senior post and No. 25 player overall is like a bull in a china shop. She stopped playing volleyball to concentrate on basketball and the result is Kakala was a McDonald’s All-American and received an offer she accepted from Louisville. She started the season injured and missed the first six games on a young team with only one other significant senior contributor and that had the Buffaloes off to a 1-5 start. Despite not regaining her full game until near the end of the season she led Manteca to the Valley Oak League title and actually had her top scoring game in her last one as despite her 32 points and 13 rebounds Manteca lost to Tracy Kimball in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. Kakala also had a strong outing in the McDonald’s All-American Game with 11 points and six rebounds. If she hadn’t missed that many games and Manteca went further in the playoffs, Kakala would have been second team overall or higher.
G – Karisma Ortiz (Archbishop Mitty, San Jose) 6-0, Jr.
Several girls were considered for the final few spots on the Third Team but Ortiz gets the nod as the No. 3 player for Mitty, so like Clovis West the Monarchs get one player each on the first, second and third teams. The closest thing to a point guard head coach Sue Phillips had in her arsenal, Ortiz was content to be a facilitator and defender but she could score when called upon to do so. Her top output was 24 points and six assists in a West Catholic Athletic League win over Mountain View Saint Francis, and she also had 19 points and nine rebounds in the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division title game victory over Sacred Heart Cathedral. On the season Ortiz averaged 9.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.4 assists against a brutally tough schedule that included nationally-ranked competition. According to Phillips and like teammate and first-teamer Jones, Karisma has been asked to pre-qualify for an offer from Stanford.
W – Myah Pace (Bishop O’Dowd, Oakland)
The University of San Diego-bound Dragons’ star gets another all-state selection, although this season its third team and last year it was second team. The only senior starter on a team that was chosen for the NorCal Open Division and lost at Pinewood in the first round may have had her best game against the Cardinal Newman team that beat Pinewood in the semifinals. With O’Dowd down 28-14 at the MLK Showcase in Stockton at St. Mary’s she was knocked out of the game after getting hit in the neck but amazingly returned to lead a comeback and finish with a game-high 14 points with seven rebounds and three steals, and her defense was the difference in a 54-48 O’Dowd victory. On the season, Pace averaged 13.4 points, 12.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 4.2 steals a game.
W – Bre’yanna Sanders (Clovis West, Fresno) 6-1, Sr.
Because teammate Sarah Bates was a Ms. Basketball finalist that meant she was pretty much locked onto the All-State first team but the Arizona State-bound ESPN No. 37 rated wing in the country could very well have been a second or even first team selection. The slight differences between the top three player or even top four or five on the Golden Eagles made it difficult to place them since even head coach Craig Campbell had more than one pecking order during the season. For her part, Sanders averaged 12.7 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 2.3 blocks per game this past season. She didn’t have a huge game offensively in the CIF Open state title game victory over Mitty but she shared team-high rebounds with six and had four steals.
W – Brianna Simonich (Carondelet, Concord) 5-11, Sr.
She tends to get overlooked for these type of honors, but clearly was the best player for a Carondelet squad that was as high as No. 4 in the State Top 20 and won the CIF North Coast Section Division I title before losing to Cardinal Newman in the NorCal Open Division. SImonich led the Cougars in scoring (15.9 ppg), rebounds (8.1), steals (4.0) and blocked shots (1.8) and shot 51 percent from the field. Three of her best outings in the regular season came when Carondelet posted wins against St. Mary’s of Stockton, Bishop O’Dowd and Salesian of Richmond. Since those teams all had at least one player on the elite all-state squad, it made sense to us to have Carondelet’s top player named as well. College plans for Simonich are still being finalized. Surprisingly, Simonich has not had a ton of college interest but several schools are interested and some have asked her to walk on.
G – Janelle Sumilong (Hanford) 5-7, Sr.
Yes, there were other worthy players in the CIF Central Section who didn’t play at Clovis West and Janelle was the best of that bunch. A signer with the University of Nevada, Sumilong easily surpassed 2,000 career points and ended up breaking the school record held by the late Shawntinice Polk, a legendary figure in Central Section girls hoops history. Sumilong averaged 22.3 points with 4.6 assists and 6.1 rebounds per game and had 30 and 31 points in her last two section playoff games. Although the Bullpups didn’t get past Clovis in the D1 section semifinals and Clovis was dominated by Clovis West in the section final, Sumilong did plenty enough in her career and for this season to get onto this year’s elite team.
F – Mikayla Wilson (Etiwanda) 5-10, Sr.
She might only be 5-foot-10, but Mikayla plays much taller and has the kind of body that is perfect for the college game. The fourth straight Etiwanda player to be named the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin Player of the Year will take her game to San Jose State this fall after leading Etiwanda to a 26-3 season that included a win over CIF D1 state champion Windward as well as Troy, and 24 straight wins before back-to-back losses to Harvard-Westlake in the CIF southern Section Open Division semifinals and Mission Hills in the SoCal Open Regionals ended her high school career as well as that of head coach Anders Anderson, who has since retired. On the season, Wilson averaged 17 points and eight rebounds a game.
Note: Co-founder Mark Tennis contributed to this report.
Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend