Preseason Girls BB Ranks (16-35)

State Coach of the Year for 2016-17 Craig Campbell of Fresno Clovis West stands with his daughter, Madison, a sophomore last season and main returnee from team that won CIF Open Division state championship. Photo: Mark Tennis.


This group is led off by the team that No. 15 Rosary Academy defeated in the 2016 CIF Division III state final, Campolindo of Moraga. Defending CIF Open Division state champ Clovis West of Fresno loses five D1 players, but still checks in at No. 19. We also are breaking in up-and-coming SoCal power Ribet Academy with 6-foot-9 transfer center Andrea Aquino.

For a look at the teams we’ve ranked from No. 1 to No. 15, CLICK HERE.

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(This is a continuation from the first part of these rankings)
(Final 2016-17 ranking in parentheses)
(Does not include any games played after Nov. 20)

Ashley Thoms helped her team at Campolindo of Moraga reach the CIF Division III state championship game last season. Photo: Hudl.com.


16. (33) Campolindo (Moraga) 27-7
Just like the Rosary team that beat them for a D3 state title last season, the Cougars make a huge jump from where they finished in last year’s final rankings and that’s because of what the Northern Regional Division III champions return. The list includes every major contributor from last season, including Washington-bound 6-foot forward Haley Van Dyke. She averaged 23.9 points, 15.4 rebounds, 4.9 steals, 3.8 assists and 3.5 blocks a game and those overall numbers are the top returning stats in the state. The Cougars lost 62-45 to Rosary in the CIF state D3 title game but Van Dyke still had a monster double-double 22 points and 25 rebounds. Head coach Art Thoms also returns his daughter, multi-sport star (track) and 3-point bomber and Weber State-bound Ashley Thoms. She averaged 15.0 points, 3.2 steals and 2.4 assists per game. Thoms only lost one girl to graduation that was not a major contributor. As for the other returning contributors Van Dyke and Ashley Thoms are joined by senior wing Aubrey Wagner (9.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 5.2 assists), senior guard Grace Maguire (7.3 ppg) and senior wing Jessi O’Reilly (6.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg) plus others. Thoms has scheduled Salesian and McClatchy before heading off to Las Vegas for the Tarkanian Classic and then the West Coast Jamboree where they are in the Gold Division.

17. (27) Serra (Gardena) 22-9
As was stated in the final expanded rankings from last season, head coach McKinsey Hadley and his girls are starting out quite a bit higher than where they finished last season after his Cavaliers had their season ended by Ventura in the Southern Regional D1 first round. Hadley has everyone back except one senior contributor, and that includes his top three scorers led by ESPNW No. 9 ranked 5-11 wing Alexis Tucker. She averaged 16.8 points and 10.5 rebounds last season. Tucker is joined by senior guard Cheyenne Givens (11.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg) and senior forward Rachel Duru (8.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg). Others that should help make Serra formidable are seniors Dashelle Gleissner and Lauryn Pointer, plus others. The Cavaliers play Harvard-Westlake on Dec. 1 in the Redondo tournament and then face Sierra Canyon, Ventura and Rosary Academy the following week in Sierra Canyon’s tourney.

18. (19) Bishop Alemany (Mission Hills) 25-9
The consensus among Southern California coaches is first-year head coach Johnny Garcia and his Warriors girls will be very solid and start out a little lower than we thought they would after the final expanded rankings last season but they are still No. 3 in the San Fernando Valley. Anaya McDavid is now at Pacific but Garcia returns second leading scorer and USC-bound 6-foot-2 forward Jillian Archer. The ESPNW No. 7 ranked senior forward went for 11.4 points and 10.3 rebounds last season. Leading scorer and 6-foot-1 wing Jasmine Hardy (13.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg) and Archer give the Warriors a formidable front line but guard play and ball handling was what prevented Alemany from going deep into the playoffs. Garcia may get some help from 6-foot wing Malia Bambrick (6.6 ppg) but the question is who is going to step up as a ball handler. After the Burroughs tournament, there’s a very interesting game on Dec. 15 at Ribet Academy.

19. (1) Clovis West (Fresno) 34-2
It would be more than fair to say head coach Craig Campbell lost more players to graduation than anyone in the state or maybe the nation since some rankings had Campbell and his girls No. 1 nationally with others putting them in the top five. Speaking of five that’s how many D1 players graduated but even so, we have to get the defending CIF Open Division state champions into the top 20 and with who they return it’s not a stretch. The coach’s daughter, 5-foot-11 junior sharpshooter Madison Campbell, is the top returner and she looked good during the viewing periods. Another top returner is junior wing Aari’yanna Sanders, the little sister of Bre’yanna Sanders, who is now at Arizona State after graduating last year. Campbell has 14 girls on his roster and he’s one of the top coaches in the state so don’t be surprised if the Golden Eagles make some noise. After they host their Nike Central Valley Showdown they go to the Elite Showcase at Laney College for a matchup with Cardinal Newman.

20. (NR) Ribet Academy (Los Angeles) 21-6
In this day and age of the top boys running off to play for a prep school not affiliated with the California Interscholastic Federation, the situation at Ribet is about as close as the girls game has gotten to that scenario. The difference is Ribet is in the CIFSS and has been deep in the playoffs in the past but not with the kind of team this new kid on the block has. With head coach Nelson Wong returning his top three scorers the Fighting Frogs were likely going to go further than the first round of the CIFSS 2-AA playoffs, but now they could have Open Division potential. The biggest reason is what may be one of the tallest girls to ever take the court in California and that’s 6-foot-9 senior Andrea Aquino. Her previous school, Eastside (Patterson, New Jersey), had some problems and she had to leave. While on a recruiting trip to Oregon State, where she has signed, she was made aware that if she did not find a school that qualified for her to play with her I-20 student visa she was going to be deported back to her native Paraguay. Her family found Ribet, which qualifies, and according to coaches and analysts that saw her with the New Jersey Sparks club team during the viewing period she’s more than legit. But that’s not all. Another international standout from Canada, point guard Justina King of Toronto, heard about Ribet from her best friend Celeste Harrison. She was from Toronto and graduated last year. Now, Wong and the Fighting Frogs have an inside-outside international combo to go with senior 6-2 center and last year’s second leading scorer and double-double machine Janette Mensah (13.3 ppg, 13.7 rpg), leading scorer and point guard Zoe Rouse (14.3 ppg) and budding sophomore star and 6-foot forward Rosemary Odunbunmi (10.1 ppg, 14.3 rpg), plus others. Some may feel this is too high for a newcomer but the incoming talent warrants it and we’ll find out soon enough. That’s why we put them behind the Alemany team they meet on Dec. 15 at home.

Maiya Flores makes a 3-pointer for Cardinal Newman last season. She’s one of many students at the school who lost their homes in recent wildfire. Photo: Prep2Prep.com.


21. (4) Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) 30-4
Head coach Monica Mertle not only lost her two big girls that helped lead the Cardinals to wins over Carondelet and Pinewood before losing to Mitty in the Northern Regional Open Division title game, she also lost her gym. The gym at Cardinal Newman was saved from the fire but with the seriousness of the damage to the school it can’t be used this season. The result is that Mertle and her girls will play just about all their home games at Santa Rosa Junior College. The Cardinals lack size but not heart at this point. “The girls are really excited to play and be together,” Mertle said. “They’re also excited to create a new identity from what we’ve been known as. It’s new and different without the size and it will take some time to see where we are.” Senior wing Tal Webb is the top returner along with senior guard Maiya Flores, whose family lost their home in the fire. Junior guard Avery Cargill is ready for a breakout season and sophomore guard Anya Choice turned some heads during the viewing period. Senior 5-foot-10 forward Arie Searcy provides some size down low and will need to bring it this season. After their own Cardinal Newman Classic we’ll get a better idea of where Mertle and her girls are after games with Clovis West and Pinewood, and then in the Diamond Division of the West Coast Jamboree.

22. (25) Brea Olinda (Brea) 24-8
There are some major changes for the Ladycats as veteran head coach Jeff Sink has retired as one of the greatest coaches in state history after coming down from Alaska, and he’s given way to Bob Walton. Not only has Sink retired but Washington-bound Tyiona Watkins has transferred. Still, Brea Olinda will field the same team without Watkins that edged a short-handed Cardinal Newman for third place at the San Diego Classic this past summer. Top returners are seniors Iyree Jarrett, Jasmine Rachel, and juniors Stephanie Lee and Megan Nieto.

23. (24) McClatchy (Sacramento) 31-5
The defending Northern Regional Division I champions have to replace Jordan Cruz (now at Utah) and Courtesy Clark but head coach Jeff Ota returns senior Richelle Turney and juniors Nia Lowery and Kamryn Hall. Those three are part of 11 returners so the Lions could be roaring. Before they play in the Diamond Division of the West Coast Jamboree they have a Dec. 9 matchup with Campolindo at the Elite is Earned Showcase at Miramonte.

24. (28) Fairmont Prep (Anaheim) 21-9
The word out of Anaheim is the Huskies will be good and we may be starting them too low but it’s still a bump of four spots from where they finished last season. The trio of Cierra Hall, Christina Li and Tristen Rollon that have led Fairmont Prep to prominence are now seniors. Head coach David Esparza and his girls will be tested in December with Windward and Brea Olinda.

24. (NR) Sacramento 23-10
The Dragons are young but three of their top four scorers return, including junior point guard RyAnne Walters (13.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 4.5 assists, 4.1 steals) and she’s the real deal. The other two top returners for head coach Michele Massari are junior wing Andriana Avent (11.4 ppg) and junior Rebekah Brown (8.8 ppg). Massari and her girls are in the Nike TOC and West Coast Jamboree but before that they have a Dec. 2 date with Mitty.

25. (20) Lakeside (Lake Elsinore) 24-6
The team that knocked Windward out of the CIFSS Open Division playoffs and then lost in overtime by a point to Alemany loses leading scorer Triann Thompson but two promising double-figure scoring juniors Jazlen Green (14.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg) and Jolene Armendariz (12.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg) will return. The Lancers aren’t in any top tournaments and may not get tested until a January date with Rosary Academy in the Norco Extravaganza.

Marie Olson was an impact player at Oak Ridge after moving in from Apple Valley, Minn. Photo: mnbasketballhub.com.


26. (30) Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills) 23-11
Had Shayley Harris not transferred to Folsom, the Trojans would be higher since they still have 6-foot-5 Oklahoma State-bound senior post Kassidy DeLapp (8.9 ppg, 7.8 rpg) and Minnesota transplant and 6-foot-2 senior Marie Olson (10.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg) as returners. The biggest question is guard play for head coach Stephen White. Oak Ridge faces Mitty and Bishop O’Dowd as well as Mission Hills early in their schedule.

27. (NR) West Campus (Sacramento) 30-4
The defending CIF Division IV state champions get a piece of the action with UCLA-bound guard Kiara Jefferson (10.5 ppg) and Cal State-Bakersfield-bound and last year’s second leading scorer and senior guard Nia Johnson leading the way. Two players to look for are sophomore Gabriella Rones (8.9 ppg) and junior wing Liliana Marquez (6.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg). After two local tournaments, head coach John Langston has his girls in the Nike TOC and the Platinum Division of the West Coast Jamboree.

28. (23) Miramonte (Orinda) 30-4
Head coach Kelly Sopak lost some senior talent but he returns senior guard and leading scorer and Lehigh-bound Claire Steele, and she turned some heads during the viewing periods before committing. Power forward Jordyn Bryant also returns and Sopak is looking for big things from sophomore point guard Rebecca Welsh. The Mats host their own Tip Off Classic before heading to Hawaii for the Nike Iolani Classic, then a matchup with Eastside Prep before the Nike TOC and the West Coast Jamboree.

29. (NR) Eastside College Prep (East Palo Alto)
Head coach Donovan Blythe and his girls just missed the expanded final top 35 last season after the Panthers won a second-straight CIF Division V title without a single senior on the roster. Senior bulldog-style guard and Division V player of the Year Kayla Tahaafe (14.3 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 5.8 assists) looked very good during the viewing periods. Leading scorer and junior guard Zion Gabriel (14.6 ppg) is back as are senior wing Ra’Anna Bey (7.7 ppg) and junior wing Mina Tameilau (7.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg) plus others. Eastside opens at the Cardinal Newman Classic and then has the matchup with Miramonte before hosting their Coaches vs. Cancer tournament in late December.

30. (11) Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) 18-9
Iimar’i Thomas is off to Cincinnati but bright young head coach LyRyan Russell still has some tools in the shed. Seniors Errayanna Hatfield and Aliyah Arcillas and sophomore Talo Li-Upersa, plus four other girls that contributed last season will keep the Fightin’ Irish in the mix. As usual, Russell has scheduled tough with the first three opponents St. Mary’s of Stockton, Clovis West and Carondelet plus the Irish are in the Diamond Division of the West Coast Jamboree

Vanden’s girls posed even in the hallway at Golden 1 Center after they won CIF D2 championship last season. Photo: Willie Eashman.


31. (7) Mission Hills (Mission Hills) 30-3
It’s a huge drop from last season but leading scorer and rebounder Khayla Rooks (Washington) is gone as are three other top scorers but senior wing Hailey McCoy, junior Aaliyah Taylor and junior Katherine Neff are back plus a few others and head coach Christopher Kroesch is one of the best in Southern California. The Grizzlies face Pinewood in the La Jolla Country Day Sweet 16 next week.

32. (21) Vanden (Fairfield) 31-5
The defending CIF Division II state champions lose a ton with the departure of Julia Blackshell-Fair (Houston) but head coach Allison Johnson has some solid returning players that are going to have to pick it up, and those would be Chico State-bound senior Myli Martinez (11.1 ppg, 3.6 assists), Deirdra Huff (8.6 ppg, 3.5 assists) and junior Janessa Herrera (5.7 ppg) plus others. Johnson and her girls open with Sacramento so we’ll find out right away if they can cut the mustard.

33. (NR) St. Joseph Notre Dame (Alameda) 29-6
The Northern Regional Division IV runner-up returns three players who averaged in double-figure scoring, sophomore sensational wing Malia Mastora (14.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg), senior center Kayla Nunn (10.7 ppg, 8.6 rpg), and junior point guard Zhane Duckett (10.0 ppg, 4.5 steals), plus head coach Shawn Hipol has other girls that can play like sophomore Maila Lepolo. The Pilots open with Oregon City and Carondelet at the Mats Tip-Off Classic.

34. (NR) Antelope 20-10
Head coach Sean Chambers may have one of his best teams in awhile with his three top scorers returning to go with a lot of underclass returners and according to Chambers some promising incoming freshmen. Sophomore and last year’s leading scorer Jordan Goodwin (11.6 ppg), junior Arianna Spann (10.5 ppg, 9.6 rpg) and Azanna Sands (10.3 ppg) are the three core players. Antelope opens in the Bill Cartwright tournament at Elk Grove.

35. (34) Chaminade (West Hills) 17-12
There were five or six teams considered for the last two spots and all have strong past resumes but lost most of their scoring punch last season including head coach Kelli Di Muro. Her top returners are 6-1 senior post Jasmine Moore (7.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg) and senior Mackenzy Iwahashi (7.4 ppg). Another reason the Eagles won out for the last spot is Di Muro has 4-5 other players that were contributors last year and she’s bringing her team to Northern California and will play in the Platinum Division of the West Coast Jamboree where the entire field except Dimond of Anchorage, Alaska is ahead of them in the rankings.

A few others who just missed:

Central (Fresno) 18-12
Bishop’s (La Jolla) 30-4
Esperanza (Anaheim) 26-4
Independence (Bakersfield) 30-4
Los Osos (Rancho Cucamonga) 27-4
Orangewood Academy (Garden Grove) 22-10
Pleasant Valley (Chico) 22-7
St. Anthony (Long Beach) 17-14
Troy (Fullerton) 20-8
Valencia 29-6
Ventura 25-8

Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at marketingharoldabend@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend


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