NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week are Anyssia Gibbs from Apple Valley Granite Hills & Andre Kelly of Stockton Lincoln. Photos: & Harold Abend.

It turned out to be the perfect week to do Oak Park’s Riley Battin for this feature since he only needs two rebounds in Friday’s game to reach 1,500 for his career and thus join a very select group of just three others in all of California prep history to have more than 2,500 points and 1,500 rebounds. Our three other players of the week were just as strong of Riley in their games last week and are from Stockton, Dublin and Apple Valley.

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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

Andre Kelly
(Lincoln, Stockton) Sr.

Kelly is generally regarded as one of the top inside players in Northern California and it isn’t just recently that he’s been making his marks. Long before the season started, he was offered by California and in early September he signed on to becoming a Golden Bear.

Right from the start, Kelly showed what kind of season he was going to have when in his first game of the season he opened with a double-double 17 points and 16 rebounds in a 77-57 victory over host Newark Memorial at the NorCal Tip Off Classic. Kelly looked like a man among boys and was a slam dunk choice as the MVP of the game in voting that included Cal-Hi Sports analyst Ronnie Flores.

With Kelly leading the way, the Trojans were 22-4 and tied for first in the Tri-City Athletic League going into a Wednesday night game with crosstown St. Mary’s.

Last week, in limited action of a blowout of Lodi Tokay, Kelly went for 24 points and seven rebounds. His big game however, was in a 74-71 victory over a Tracy team that Lincoln lost to earlier in the season and pushed the Trojans into a first-place tie with the Bulldogs. The 6-foot-8, 220-pound Kelly had a double-double 24 points and 14 rebounds with three assists.

On the season, Kelly is averaging 21.3 points and 11.4 rebounds per game.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Boys Player of the Week

Riley Battin
(Oak Park) Sr.

We don’t usually go for the top-notch recruits in this feature but the way Battin has been battling other teams for control of the paint we decided to go out to the Simi Hills of Highway 101 and the far western part of Los Angeles County for this week’s boys honoree.

Plus, Riley is about to join some very select company in the Cal-Hi Sports state record book.

With the 6-foot-10, 215-pound Battin dunking, dishing and cleaning the glass, the 20-6 Eagles have soared to 11 straight wins since a 12-point loss to state No. 1 Bishop Montgomery, and they’ve captured the Coastal Canyon League championship with an 8-0 record. They will be a threat to win a Division I state title since it’s already known they won’t be in the SoCal Open Division bracket.

Last week, in a 86-56 win over Moorpark that wrapped up league play, the Utah signee who had around 20 D1 offers double-doubled after dropping in 34 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. It was his 22nd double-double and the eighth time he’s had 30 or more points this season. His high water mark was 41 points (10 rebounds) in a mid-January win over Royal of Simi Valley.

So far this season, and entering the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs, Battin is averaging 25.3 points, 12.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game.

It’s Riley’s career totals, though, that are more historical. With just two rebounds on Friday against either Edison of Huntington Beach or Esperanza of Anaheim, Battin will become just the fourth reported player in state history to score more than 2,500 career points with more than 1,500 rebounds. He went past 2,900 career points last week.

The only three as of now in the club would be Darnell Robinson from Emery of Emeryville (1990-1993), DeMarcus Nelson from Vallejo & Sacramento Sheldon (2001-04) & Grant Verhoeven of Visalia (2009-2012). We checked T.J. Leaf for his years at El Cajon Foothills Christian (2013-2016) but he came up 25 rebounds short.

Sila Finau has her team looking like a contender in CIF North Coast Section D1 playoffs. Photo:

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Girls Player of the Week

Lesila Finau
(Dublin) Sr.

For the first time this season, we go to the CIF North Coast Section East Bay area for our girls award winner and land just southwest of majestic Mt. Diablo where we find this 5-foot-10 senior wing.

Dublin isn’t a big school state power, but until Lesila or “Sila” as she’s known came to town they weren’t even on the radar screen. Now, with Sila leading the charge, the Gaels are 23-3 and 11-1 in the always tough East Bay Athletic League – Valley division and poised to snag a high seed in the upcoming NCS Division I playoffs beginning next week.

Last week, and even in her first game this week, Sila was the real deal. In an 81-48 victory over Livermore, the Minnesota-bound Finau had a double-double 34 points and 13 rebounds with five assists and four steals. She came back against Livermore Granada with another double-double after finishing with 29 points and 12 rebounds with five steals and three assists.

This week Sila helped the Gaels win their fifth straight since a loss to state-ranked Carondelet (Concord) with another double-double after scoring 27 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in a win over Dougherty Valley. On the season, Finau is averaging 21.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 5.1 steals and 4.9 assists per game.

A bright spot for Dublin fans is her little sister, 5-foot-10 junior wing Mele Finau, has one more year left as a Gael. She’s currently averaging 9.8 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Girls Player of the Week

Anyssia Gibbs
(Granite Hills, Apple Valley) Sr.

The was no shortage of emails coming in to nominate this girl from the high desert whose father, Robert Gibbs, is the Cougars head coach. Gibbs was a strong consideration for the award for many weeks this season, but she didn’t have dibs on it until a decision was made early this week.

Last week, the powerfully-built 5-foot-10 senior wing had her top performance of the season, and at the same time helped Granite Hills secure its first-ever Desert Sky League championship since the school opened in 1999.

First, in a 69-38 victory over Silverado of Victorville, Gibbs went for a triple-double after pouring in a season-high 45 points with 16 rebounds and 10 steals, plus six assists and four blocks. That meant Gibbs had a hand in 57 of the Cougars 69 points. Then, in the win that wrapped up the league title, she barely missed a quadruple-double in a 68-35 win against Adelanto after finishing with 29 points, 14 rebounds, and 12 steals, with nine assists and four blocks.

Heading into the CIF Southern Section Division 3-A playoffs, Gibbs is averaging 28.0 points, 12.2 rebounds, 8.4 steals and 7.0 assists per game. According to the MaxPreps database, the points and assists totals are high up on the reported leaders lists for the state and the CIFSS, but her 8.4 steals is the No. 5 reported mark in the state and she leads the state in points per 32 minutes with a 33.5 average.

We had alluded to a new Orange County three-point record set last week and a week after last week’s SoCal honoree Suzette Quinlan of Aliso Niguel broke the old record, but while we want to recognize Stephanie Lee of Brea-Olinda (Brea) and the 12 three-pointers she made last week in a 40-point performance against El Modena, we didn’t feel it would be fair to honor the same record two-straight weeks from the same area, however it does not diminish the accomplishment of Lee, a junior guard that was named the Orange County Register girls basketball athlete of the week.

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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