Girls BB: All-State 2nd, 3rd

Two headliners on the all-state overall second team are seniors Sirena Tuitele of Chico Pleasant Valley and Jayda Ruffus-Milner from Harvard-Westlake of North Hollywood. Photos: Willie Eashman & Harvard-Westlake Athletics.

Here’s where to go to check out all of the writeups for those who are second team overall and third team overall on the 39th annual Cal-Hi Sports All-State Girls Basketball Teams. While we don’t agree that a team that didn’t win the CIF Open Division state title should be No. 1 in the nation, Archbishop Mitty of San Jose did have two very deserving seniors to go with junior standout Haley Jones and therefore is the only team to have three players on first, second or third team all-state. State champ Windward wound up with two as did Pinewood of Los Altos Hills, St. Mary’s of Stockton and Harvard-Westlake.

For the all-time archive of every Cal-Hi Sports All-State elite/overall team for girls that has been chosen, CLICK HERE.

RELATED All-State Girls Basketball All-State Teams: First Team Elite | By Divisions | Underclass (Gold Club) | Final List of Nominees (Gold Club)

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F – Klara Astrom (Pinewood, Los Altos Hills) 5-9 Jr.
Although she’s only 5-9, Astrom was almost always matched up defensively with girls she gave several inches to in height but not toughness, and she always seemed to get the job done in the paint. She was second on the team in scoring at 14.2 points per game and led the team in rebounding at a 7.1 clip. Astrom also led the team in steals with 2.2 per game and was second in assists at 2.0 per game.

G – Da’Ja Hamilton (Etiwanda) 5-8 Sr.
The Nevada-bound team leader and floor general for the CIF Open Division participants could shoot the three-pointer or go to the basket just as easily for the 25-6 Eagles and did well enough to earn an All-CIF Southern Section Open Division First Team selection as well as making the Los Angeles Times All-Star girls’ basketball team. She led the team in scoring, assists and steals with 18.7 points, 4.2 assists and 3.1 steals per game averages while also adding 3.7 rebounds per game as well.

Ariel Johnson had one of her best games for St. Mary’s with 26 points in a section championship game. Photo: Mark Tennis.

G – Ariel Johnson (St. Mary’s, Stockton)
5-8 Sr.

The floor general for the Rams concluded a very solid season and career at St. Mary’s after starting all 30 games for a 27-3 team that fell a little short of expectations after getting upset by Pinewood in the Northern Regional semifinals. On the season, the Florida-bound guard was second on the team in scoring and rebounding to first team selection Aquira DeCosta with 14.1 points and 5.4 rebounds a game and led the team with 4.5 assists while adding 2.6 steals a game as well. She had two double-doubles on the season and both came at the Nike TOC.

W – Nia Johnson (West Campus, Sacramento)
6-0 Sr.

Teammate and UCLA-bound Kiara Jefferson got a lot of the ink but in the end it was the Cal State-Bakersfield-bound Johnson that was named the Division III State Player of the Year after helping lead the team to a second consecutive CIF state title when the Warriors followed up their 2017 CIF Division IV state championship with a 75-47 victory over Fullerton Sunny Hills to capture this year’s CIF Division III state title. She had a double-double 23 points and 12 rebounds with five assists and four steals in the state championship and led the team in every statistical category after averaging 16.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 3.4 steals per game.

G – Kayla Padilla (Bishop Montgomery, Torrance) 5-9 Jr.
Her three-pointer against CIF Division I state champion Serra of Gardena in the CIF Southern Section Open consolation game sealed the deal in a 71-68 overtime victory where she led the way with 21 points. She also had 21 points in a 69-50 Del Rey League game that sewed up the league title and earned her the league’s Player of the Year award over first-team all-state selection Alexis Tucker of Serra. On the season, Padilla averaged 19.6 points per game and had four games of 30 points or more.

Ribet Academy’s Lola Pendande is shown going for a basket while playing for her country of Spain during an international game. Photo:

C – Lola Pendande (Ribet Academy, Los Angeles) 6-3 Sr.
The Utah-bound U17 Spanish National Team member was an All CIF Southern Section Open Division First Team selection and was also chosen for the Los Angeles Times All-Star girls’ basketball team as well. The top player on an international team, she led the Fighting Frogs in scoring (11.7 points a game) and rebounding (9.5 rebounds a game) for a team that went 28-6 and made it all the way to the CIF Southern Regional Division I title game before bowing out to eventual CIF D1 state champion Gardena Serra. Pendande will play next at Utah.

F – Jayda Rufus-Milner (Harvard-Westlake, N. Hollywood) 5-11 Sr.
It was hard to not keep Jayda together with her twin Jayla, who will join her at Pepperdine, but this is a tough bunch of top 30 girls to evaluate for these honors. Jayda was second on the team in scoring and rebounding to first team selection Kiki Iriafen with 11.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game averages. She also added 2.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game as well in helping lead the Wolverines to a 26-6 record and the Southern Regional Open Division semifinals where they lost a 46-45 heartbreaker on the road at Clovis West. Jayda had a knee injury in that game. Jayla battled a separated shoulder throughout the season.

C – Emma Torbert (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) 6-2 Sr.
Some all-star teams had her as the No. 2 girl not only from Orange County but on her team as well, but not here and not with the Orange County Register where the Nevada-bound four-year Monarchs’ varsity starter was the paper’s girls basketball Player of the Year. The ever-tough Torbert returned this season after breaking her leg in the playoffs last year and ended this season playing with a broken hand. She was second on the team in scoring at 13.9 points a game and led the team with 10.6 rebounds per game.

C – Sirena Tuitele (Pleasant Valley, Chico) 6-1 Sr.
It might be a bit unfair to say Tuitele was a one-girl team since the Vikings had other girls in double-figure scoring, but before she arrived on the Chico campus it had been 33 years since they won a NorCal title, and the real tale of the tape came in the toughest games like the CIF Division II state championship game loss to Redondo Union where that team virtually ignored some of the Pleasant Valley girls to double and even triple-team the Colorado-bound big girl. Yet, Tuitele still managed to register a double-double 21 points and 10 rebounds. On the season, she averaged around 16 points and nine rebounds a game.

C/PF – Haley Van Dyke (Campolindo, Moraga) 6-0 Sr.
The Washington-bound Cougars superstar was edged out as the Division III Player of the Year but the kind of numbers she put up earns her a spot on second team. Van Dyke was the No. 3 reported scorer in the state at 29.8 points per game and her 17.3 rebounds was the No. 5 reported mark. Her 4.8 steals, 3.8 assists and 3.5 blocks per game aren’t too shabby either. Van Dyke set the CIF North Coast Section single game scoring record twice this season with 56 points in a win against Brookside Christian (Stockton) and then with 60 in an NCS D3 quarterfinal victory over Hayward Moreau Catholic. For her four-year varsity career, Van Dyke scored 2,370 points, had 1,513 rebounds, plus 459 steals, 363 assists and 343 blocks.


F – Camara Douglas (Mount Miguel, Spring Valley) 5-11 Sr.
The East County Sports Player of the Year, First Team All San Diego Section and Grossmont–Hills League MVP was a key reason the Matadors went 30-2 and had their greatest season in school history after winning their first-ever CIF San Diego Section Open Division championship and being selected for the Southern Regional Open Division playoffs. The Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne-bound Douglas averaged 17.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1.5 blocked shots per game.

Maiya Flores helped team reach NorCal Open Division for two straight years and is all-time scoring leader (boys or girls) at Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa. Photo: Berry Evans III/SportStars.

G – Maiya Flores (Cardinal Newman, Santa Rosa) 5-6 Sr.
What an emotional roller-coaster season it was for the Cardinals’ senior leader and all-time Cardinal Newman leading scorer for either girls or boys. She held it together despite her family losing their home and everything in the fires that reduced all their belongings to ash, and the school half burning down. The fire also closed the gym for 20 games and sent her and her Cardinals’ teammates on a 20-game road trip to start the season. This year, Flores averaged 14.1 points and three assists per game and she leaves with 1,581 career points. This past season, she made 133 three-pointers and that’s a number that makes the Cal-Hi Sports Record Book.

C – Nicole Blakes (Archbishop Mitty, San Jose) 6-2 Sr.
Despite going down in the final West Catholic Athletic League game with a knee injury, there is no question the University of San Diego bound Blakes is one of the 30 best players in the state. She played 23 of Mitty’s 30 games and averaged 14.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.8 blocks and 1.8 steals per game. Two impressive performances were at the Nike TOC the Monarchs won where she had 22 points and 20 points against nationally-ranked St. John’s of Washington D.C. and St. Mary’s of Stockton, respectively.

G/SF – Kaiyah Corona (Windward, Los Angeles) 5-11 Jr.
As the leading rebounder and second-leading scorer (10.7 ppg) for a team that won the CIF Open Division state championship, Corona emerged as a strong contender for one of these 30 top positions. That became more of a factor with Archbishop Mitty landing three (two seniors) and a couple of other teams getting two. Corona joined Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year Charisma Osborne on the All-CIFSS Open Division squad and was a key contributor on the team that won the CIF D1 state title in 2017.

F – Jasmine Hardy (Bishop Alemany, Mission Hills) 6-1 Sr.
When her USC-bound teammate Jillian Archer went down in the first week of the season, a lot fell on the shoulders of the Long Beach State-bound Hardy to help lead a team that really was lacking a true ball-handler against a schedule of national top teams and arguably the state’s toughest Mission League. All she did was lead the team in scoring and rebounding with 16 points and eight rebounds per game. The Mission League first team selection was particularly effective in a 51-38 victory over state No. 7 Salesian when she matched up with first team selection Angel Jackson and finished with 17 points and eight rebounds.

G/F – Rowan Hein (Clovis North, Fresno) 5-10 Soph.
The State Sophomore of the Year was the top player on a Broncos team that couldn’t end the stranglehold of arch rival Clovis West for large school CIF Central Section girls basketball supremacy, but they made a very good showing of themselves before bowing out to Harvard-Westlake in the Southern Regional Open Division playoffs. Hein is tall for a point guard but she’s very solid and can do other things in the paint point guards don’t always do. She averaged 15.5 points per game on 48 percent shooting from the field, 6.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game while setting the career assist mark at Clovis North. Hein was also the team leader in 3-point shooting and free throw percentage.

G – Jayda Holland (Bishop O’Dowd, Oakland) 5-6 Jr.
The West Alameda County–Foothill League Player of the Year had a solid season but it was her huge performance in the Dragons’ CIF North Coast Section Division II title-game upset victory over Miramonte of Orinda where she really shined with a game high 24 points, including 16 in the pivotal fourth quarter. On the season, the always hustling Holland averaged 15.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 steals, 3.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game for an O’Dowd team that was selected for the Northern Regional Open Division.

We wonder if all-state player Haley Jones (above) from West of Torrance has ever met all-state player Haley Jones of San Jose Archbishop Mitty? This Haley Jones led her team to a CIF Southern Section divisional title and is headed to Air Force. Photo:

F – Haley Jones (West, Torrance) 5-11 Sr.
Despite some late season minor injuries, the Air Force-bound Jones, who after graduation from college plans to pursue a career in the medical field, led the Warriors to the CIF Southern Section Division I championship. Jones earned the CIFSS D1 Player of the Year and South Bay Daily Breeze Player of the Year honors. She led the team in scoring and rebounding with 14.9 points and 10.0 rebounds per game averages while adding 2.4 steals and 2.1 assists per game as well.

G – Dawnyel Lair (Fairfax, Los Angeles)
5-7 Sr.

The speedy and elusive Wichita State-bound Lair led the Lions to the CIF Los Angeles City Section Open Division championship after scoring 16 of her game-high 23 points in the second half of a 59-46 victory over Granada Hills Charter in a game that Fairfax trailed by as many as 10 points in the first half and 31-26 at halftime. It was the second straight year Lair has come up big in the L.A. City Section Open title game after scoring 35 points in last year’s win over Palisades. This season for the 27-5 Lions, Lair averaged team highs of 16.1 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 3.8 steals per game.

G – Clair Steele (Miramonte, Orinda) 5-5, Sr.
There have been some great players over the years at Miramonte, including 2016 grad and all everything and current college superstar Sabrina Ionescu, and 2008 graduate and Bay Area favorite Katie Batlin, plus others, but the Lehigh-bound point guard is right up there with the best. This past season Steele averaged 16.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.3 steals per game. For her career, she finished as the No. 3 all-time scorer in Mats’ history behind Ionescu and Batlin with 1,564 career points with 539 assists and 328 steals.

Note: Co-founder Mark Tennis contributed to this report. Injury, suspension, eligibility ruling, and transfer sit-outs affected the candidacy of some players on some of this year’s all-state girls basketball teams.

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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