Windward of Los Angeles gets onto the all-time year-by-year list of California’s best girls basketball teams after collecting 2018 CIF Open Division state championship. This is the school’s first-ever No. 1 overall state finish in any sport and it’s only the second time ever that a school with a Los Angeles address has finished No. 1 in the state for girls hoops.
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It wasn’t some massive upset, but all indications prior to the start of the CIF Open Division girls basketball playoffs were that it was going to be a Northern California year. This wasn’t based on some computer projection, but on what happened at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix.
Instead, it was a Windward of Los Angeles year. The Wildcats won the CIF Open Division title last Saturday with a 58-47 triumph over Pinewood of Los Altos Hills and as a follow-up today they have been officially added to the list of Cal-Hi Sports State Team of the Year honorees that extends back to the early 1970s. This writeup on the Monday after the CIF state finals before 2013 was more highly anticipated. In those years, there was no CIF Open Division and teams from Division II and Division III could and did get placed No. 1 overall in the state in front of the Division I state champion.
While Windward has won state titles before in boys basketball, this is the first year the school can claim being State Team of the Year in any sport. It’s also the first time since 1977 that a school from Los Angeles has been selected No. 1 in the state in girls basketball. In that season, before the CIF had boys or girls state playoffs, Los Angeles High went 16-0 and has been judged to have had the state’s top team. The Romans are from the CIF L.A. City Section.
In that Nike TOC, two NorCal teams, Archbishop Mitty of San Jose and St. Mary’s of Stockton, met in the title game in the top division of the nation’s most prestigious girls basketball tournament. Mitty won 57-50, still hadn’t lost and was No. 1 in the nation by everyone after winning the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division title. St. Mary’s had only lost to Mitty (plus one other team from New York) and was in the top five of most national polls after winning the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I crown.
Windward of Los Angeles head coach Vanessa Nygaard also took her team to the Nike TOC, but was not entered in the top division. And even though the Wildcats were not in that top division, they lost in Phoenix 71-58 to Centennial of Las Vegas. The next month, Centennial played St. Mary’s of Stockton and lost 78-61. Based on that common opponent alone, at least at the mid-point of the season, Windward’s attempt at winning the CIF Open Division title one year after taking the trophy in Division I seemed like a shaky proposition.
Once the actual playoffs started, of course, the Wildcats and their star player, junior guard Charisma Osborne, without question pushed the level of their play to a higher level. That was shown by the manner in which they won the CIF Southern Section Open Division title and then in CIF SoCal regional wins against Fairfax of Los Angeles, Etiwanda and Clovis West of Fresno (last year’s CIF Open Division state champ).
“All through the playoffs the girls were locked into our game plan and they’ve been committed to improvement,” Nygaard said during the press conference after the win over Pinewood. “Everyone wants to underestimate Windward. Keep doing it. We’re the Open champs.”
Pinewood, which advanced to the state final after it knocked off both St. Mary’s of Stockton and Mitty, is a team known for its three-point shooting. In the Open Division final, though, it was Windward’s three-point shooting that was one of the big differences. Osborne set an Open Division record by nailing six from beyond the arc and finished with 26 points. Kamil English went 2-of-4 on her way to 14 points and has to be one of the most improved players in the state over last season. Selena McLurkin and India Otto also made threes. Sela Kay didn’t make any in that game, but was a key shooter for the Wildcats all season.
Windward’s girls also were part of a sweep of the Open Division state titles by schools from the CIF Southern Section’s Gold Coast League. Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth, which won on the boys side, also is from the Gold Coast. So is CIF D2 boys winner Crossroads of Santa Monica. The only league in California history to win both boys and girls State Team of the Year honors before this year is the Trinity League, which is home to Mater Dei of Santa Ana. The Monarchs had the No. 1 team in the state for both genders in 2011 and 2012.
With Osborne returning for her senior year, it’s doubtful there’s going to be much underestimation of the Wildcats for next season when they will attempt to repeat. Kay, English and McLurkin will all be graduating, but Nygaard has shown she’s one of the best ever at getting teams ready for a playoff push. St. Mary’s of Stockton loses a lot more top talent, but Mitty will again have All-American Haley Jones. Who knows, maybe we’ll finally get a matchup involving those two in the final game of the season.
Congratulations to all of the players, coaches, parents and fans of this year’s State Team of the Year – the Windward Wildcats.
Cal-Hi Sports Girls Basketball
State Teams of the Year All-Time List
2018 – Los Angeles Windward (27-3)
2017 – Fresno Clovis West (34-2)
2016 – West Hills Chaminade (31-4)
2015 – Stockton St. Mary’s (34-1)
2014 – Long Beach Poly (27-3)
2013 – Oakland Bishop O’Dowd (30-3)
2012 – Santa Ana Mater Dei (34-3)
2011 – Santa Ana Mater Dei (34-1)
2010 – Santa Ana Mater Dei (32-1)
2009 – Brea Olinda Brea (33-2)
2008 – San Francisco Sacred Heart Cathedral
2007 – Long Beach Poly (36-1)
2006 – Fullerton Troy (33-1)
2005 – Piedmont (32-2)
2004 – Piedmont (33-2)
2003 – Lynwood (32-1)
2002 – Lynwood (32-0)
2001 – Harbor City Narbonne (28-3)
2000 – Harbor City Narbonne (34-0)
1999 – San Jose Archbishop Mitty (31-0)
1998 – Harbor City Narbonne (32-1)*
1997 – Berkeley (29-3)
1996 – Irvine Woodbridge (32-2)
1995 – Irvine Woodbridge (33-1)
1994 – Brea Olinda Brea (33-0)
1993 – Lynwood (31-0)
1992 – RH Estates Peninsula (33-0)
1991 – Berkeley (30-2)
1990 – Inglewood Morningside (32-3)
1989 – Inglewood Morningside (33-1)
1988 – Fremont Oakland (28-0)**
1987 – San Diego Point Loma (34-0)
1986 – San Diego Point Loma (31-1)
1985 – Compton (26-0)
1984 – Ventura Buena (31-0)
1983 – Ventura Buena (28-4)
1982 – Riverside Poly (34-0)
1981 – Riverside Poly (29-0)
1980 – Berkeley (29-0)
1979 – Woodland Hills El Camino Real (19-0)
1978 – Huntington Beach (25-2)
1977 – Los Angeles (16-0)
1976 – Ventura (23-0)
1975 – Chula Vista Hilltop (18-0)
1974 – Berkeley (19-1)
1973 – Fresno San Joaquin Memorial (12-0)
1972 – Ventura Buena (8-0)
*Forfeit losses not included. CIF Division I state title vacated due to residency issues.
**Eleven wins forfeited due to use of ineligible player.
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