NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week are Joshua Hamilton from Central Catholic of Modesto and Nailah Dillard from Inderkum of Sacramento. Photos: Andy Alfaro/The Modesto Bee & Courtesy Family.

Last week, we honored one player with a 56-point outing. This week, we’ve got a boy with 59 who also made 16 three-pointers in one game and our state leading girls scorer who had a 57-point outburst. In all, our honorees are from Modesto, Sacramento, Rancho Mirage and Chula Vista.

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Note: For these honors, we consider CIF Central Section players for Northern California. To nominate someone by 12 noon on most Mondays, email This is our third set of honorees for the 2017-18 season for basketball.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Boys Player of the Week

Josh Hamilton
(Central Catholic, Modesto) Sr.

For those that think Central Catholic is only a football school, think again. The Raiders’ boys basketball program has had some real success in the recent past, and Hamilton has been in the mix.

In fact, as a sophomore, this four-year varsity player was a key part of the 2016 team that ended a 28-year drought and won a CIF Sac-Joaquin Section title, and made it to the CIF Northern Regional D4 semis before bowing out to eventual NorCal champion Palma of Salinas. He was No. 2 on that team in scoring with a 12.7 ppg average. He averaged 13.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game last season and helped Central Catholic defend the title, but there was also a lengthy suspension for breaking team rules.

Now, the 6-foot-2 senior point guard is back as the top Raiders’ scorer and because of the experience last season he’s more mature and a team leader on a group that has started 15-2 and looks poised to possibly three-peat and make another deep run in the section playoffs.

While we’re honoring him for his recent performances, the bottom line is he’s been pretty consistent this season. Last week, Hamilton went for 29 points in a win over Kimball of Tracy. Since a loss to University (San Francisco) where Hamilton went for 29 points and eight rebounds, the Raiders have won six straight. His numbers were light in a close win over Millbrae Mills, but Hamilton had 23 points against Larkspur Redwood; 37 points and seven rebounds against Lathrop; 24 points, nine rebounds and four assists versus Manteca Sierra; and prior to the Kimball game Hamilton had 21 points against Manteca.

So far this season, Hamilton is averaging 21.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Girls Player of the Week

Nailah Dillard
(Inderkum, Sacramento) Jr.

We’ve been peppered with info from the Tigers’ faithful about this 5-foot-10 junior wing so after she went for 40 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and five steals in a 68-36 victory over Woodland, we’ve decided this is the right time to go back to the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section for our NorCal girls honoree.

On a team with only two seniors and mostly freshmen has meant that Dillard has had to carry a load, just like the 3.8 cumulative GPA she carries in the classroom.

The 10-9 Tigers have played just about all the top teams in the greater Sacramento area and although she recently had an off night and fouled out in a close, tough loss to Yuba City River Valley, she went for 29 points in a loss to state-ranked Folsom and 25 points to newly state-ranked McClatchy.

On the season Dillard, who is starting to get some mid-major looks, is averaging 22.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.

Dillard started her career at Sacramento High but transferred to Inderkum after her freshman season to play with her twin sister Naomi Dillard, a 5-foot-6 Tigers’ guard.

Shyla Latone from Bonita Vista of Chula Vista already has three 50-point games this season. Photo:

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Girls Player of the Week

Shyla Latone
(Bonita Vista, Chula Vista) Sr.

We go to southeastern San Diego County for our girls winner and while Latone didn’t quite get 59 points like our SoCal boys honoree, the 5-foot-6 scoring machine got close after pouring in a season-high 57 points in a 107-75 victory over San Diego Montgomery.

It was the third time she’s gone for 50 points this season and the eighth time she’s been over 40 in a game for the 16-5 Barons. In fact, if they rang a bell every time Latone tallied, anyone standing near it might get tone deaf from all the ringing.

The current state leader in scoring at 37.5 points per game is 4.2 ppg higher than the No. 2 reported leading scorer, according to MaxPreps.

Shyla is following a San Diego tradition of top scorers and although she’s behind the pace of the single-season Cal-Hi Sports No. 1 spot and state record of 1,366 points and 42.7 ppg average of 2017 Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year Destiny Littleton of La Jolla Bishop’s last season, Latone could go over 1,100 points if Bonita Vista wins at least a game or two games in the playoffs and she continues the torrid pace.

An 1,100-point season would put her in some exclusive company that besides Littleton includes previous CIF San Diego Section stars Terri Mann, a two-time Ms. Basketball winner in 1986-87 from Point Loma High who had 1,174 points in 1987, and Charde Houston, who scored 1,161 points in 2002 at San Diego High.

Even a 1,000-point season would put Latone in some pretty exclusive company on the Most Points (Season) list in the Cal-Hi Sports Record Book. Last season, she fell just short of that mark after registering 956 points. With 2,679 points so far in her career and 788 points this season, Latone will need to average a little over 30 points per game the rest of the season to reach 1,000 for this year and the magic 3,000 career point mark – and that’s another very exclusive list in the state record book.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Boys Player of the Week

Wes Lynch
(Rancho Mirage) Sr.

It can get blazing hot in the Coachella Valley but it’s likely no one has ever been hotter on a basketball court in the greater Palm Springs area than this 5-foot-11 senior guard.

When doing this feature we’re always looking for unique performances that produce local records and potential entries into the Cal-Hi Sports Record Book, and the performance doesn’t always have to nor do we really want it to come from the high profile stars. Because of that, Lynch was a cinch for the Southern California boys honor.

Last week, in a blowout win over Desert Mirage of Thermal, where it gets even hotter than Rancho Mirage, Lynch took the mercury about as high as it can go after draining 16 three-pointers and finishing with 59 points. Not only are the totals school records but are believed to be the most ever for both marks in the Coachella Valley.

According to the local paper, some of the treys were NBA range, and all this from a journeyman player that had never had more than 25 points in his career. Lynch was close to that with 23 in the first half alone before really starting to blow some fire.

The Cal-Hi Sports state record for most three-pointers in a game is 21 set in 1994 by Chad Bickley from Valley Christian of Santa Maria in a 118-70 win over Citadel of Sacramento.

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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