SoCal/NorCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s SoCal/NorCal Players of the Week are Onyeka Okongwu of Chino Hills and Sylena Peterson from Mt. Miguel of Spring Valley. Photos: & Ramon Scott/

It’s our final chance to write about boys and girls hoopsters for this feature, since it’s switching to baseball and softball next week. One of them was previously an all-state freshman, another was previously the State Freshman Player of the Year. The final four, so to speak, are from Chino Hills, Spring Valley, Reedley and Alameda.

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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 will be the last set of winners for boys and girls basketball. Next week, this feature is switching to baseball and softball.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Boys Player of the Week

Onyeka Okongwu
(Chino Hills) Jr.

Okongwu is no stranger to being honored by Cal-Hi Sports as he was the State Freshman of the Year in 2016 on a Huskies team that won the CIF Open Division state championship and featured Lonzo, La’Melo and LiAngelo Ball along with Okongwu and current Loyola Marymount player Eli Scott.

Now, with the Ball brothers gone, the 6-foot-9 junior power forward with offers from Alabama, Arizona State, Cal, DePaul, Kansas, San Diego State, TCU, UCLA, UNLV, USC, Utah and Washington, is the big star.

Last Saturday in front of a packed house at Azusa Pacific University, Okongwu was more like King Kong after roughing up Pasadena and totally dominating the paint after finishing with a monster double-double 38 points and 14 rebounds with three blocks to lead Chino Hills to a 72-56 CIF Southern Section Division 1 championship game victory. It is the program’s second CIFSS ttle in three years with the 2016 team also winning one.

King Kong and his Huskies’ teammates now move on to the CIF Southern Regional Division I playoffs where the 22-11 and No. 6 seed entertains Chula Vista Mater Dei Catholic in Wednesday night’s first round.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Girls Player of the Week

Sylena Peterson
(Mount Miguel, Spring Valley) Fr.

We go out to the East County portion of the CIF San Diego Section to honor a young lady you’ll likely be hearing a lot more about both this season and for three more years to come.

We don’t look at what grade a player is in when choosing our players of the week, but what Peterson did for Matadors’ head coach Robbie Sandoval and her teammates last week, and has been doing all season for 30-1 Mount Miguel has been more like the performance of a wily veteran senior then a freshman.

Last Saturday took the cake for Peterson. With Mount Miguel trailing by 13 points late in the third quarter to four-time defending section champion Mission Hills (San Marcos), that was when Peterson took over.

She helped clamp down on defense, scored the Matadors’ final five points and finished with 17 points, three assists and three steals, but Mount Miguel fans and Sandoval still had to hold their collective breath after Mission Hills got off three shots but couldn’t connect in a 50-49 CIF San Diego Section Open Division title-game victory.

“She’s the real deal,” said Sandoval who has been touting the freshman since the beginning of the season.

For the two Open Division games prior to the title game, Peterson had 14 points, seven assists and four steals in a 45-35 victory over San Diego Westview, and a double-double 19 points and 14 assists with three steals in a 61-38 drubbing of La Costa Canyon of Carlsbad.

Peterson is No. 2 on the team in scoring to senior Camara Douglas and is averaging 17.3 points, 4.5 assists, 3.9 steals and 3.9 rebounds per game going into a Friday matchup for the Southern Regional Open Division No. 5 seed at No. 4 seed Etiwanda.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Boys Player of the Week

Nate Kendricks
(Immanuel, Reedley) Sr.

There were any number of weeks we could have honored Kendricks since he’s one of the state’s leading scorers, but we’ve waited and finally decided to go to the Central Section this week for our NorCal boys winner once again, but the award won’t soothe the Eagles faithful who feel their boys kind of got shafted in the seedings for the CIF Southern Regional playoffs.

Kendricks, a 6-foot senior point guard whose uncle Mychael Kendricks won the Super Bowl last month with the Philadelphia Eagles and has another uncle (Eric) in the NFL, hammered home 34 points with four rebounds and four steals to lead the CIF Central Section Division III third-seeded Eagles to a 68-57 title-game victory over top-seeded Sanger. It was his and the team’s fourth-straight section title.

With the victory, Immanuel moves on to the SoCal Division III playoffs but the Eagles only received the No. 15 seed and now have to travel to Los Angeles University for their first round game. Meanwhile, and somewhat inexplicably, Sanger was placed in the Northern Regional Division III bracket and given the No. 7 seed and a home game.

For Kendricks, who is the No. 5 leading reported scorer in the state at 28.9 points per game, it was the 16th time this season he’s gone for 30 or more points. Three weeks ago in the final Central Sequoia League game, Kendricks went for 43 points in a win over Central Valley Christian of Visalia that put him over the 2,000 point mark for his career. He had 42 points in an early season win over Richmond Kennedy and his high-water mark was when Nate skated his way to 49 points in a loss to St. Francis of Mountain View at the Father Barry Classic.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Girls Player of the Week

Malia Mastora
(St. Joseph Notre Dame, Alameda) Soph.

Mastora is not new to the scene after being an All State freshman selection last season, and she’s well on her way to possible sophomore honors as well.

Last week, in a 90-47 rout of Arcata in the CIF North Coast Section Division IV title game, Mastora had 28 points and eight steals with three rebounds and three assists in leading the Pilots to their fourth NCS title, all since 2011 with the previous three in Division V.

Mastora does not always need to score to help her team win and many times is content to move the ball around on offense while still playing exceptional defense. In fact, the 28 points matched her season high she also had in rout of Oakland Head-Royce. One of her best performances of the season was when she has 23 points in an upset of state-ranked Carondelet.

So far this season for a Pilots team that surprisingly only earned the No. 3 seed in the Northern Regional Division I playoffs, Mastora is averaging 14.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game.

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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