SoCal/NorCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s Players of the Week are Te-Hina Paopao of La Jolla Country Day and Jaden Shackelford of Hesperia. Photos: Mark Tennis & Courtside Films /

For the first time in this honors’ program history, we’ve chosen two players from great games played on a Saturday who then had their teams play against each other on a Monday. That can only happen on MLK weekend. For the boys, we were more normal going with hair-raising scoring outputs from players representing regions of the state (Humboldt-Del Norte and the high desert of San Bernardino County) that often have players overlooked.

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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

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Girls Basketball Player of the Week

Te-Hina Paopao
(La Jolla Country Day, La Jolla) Jr.

After missing her freshman season and her sophomore season with separate knee injuries and hearing all about her even as young as the eighth grade from coaches and analysts in Southern California, you could say it was inspirational to see the way that Te-Hina played for the Torreys in their matchup with state No. 14 St. Mary’s of Stockton last Saturday at the St. Mary’s MLK Showcase.

If one didn’t know what she’s gone through to play this season, just seeing a girl with heavy knee brace on hitting shot after shot in a place (Morelli Gym at St. Mary’s) that is often not kind to visiting players might not mean much. But this was Paopao, who made her first seven shots against the Rams and finished with 32 points in leading La Jolla Country Day to an 84-64 victory.

“Definitely as a group we knew we had to come out strong in this game,” Paopao said. “I’m happy how things are coming along.”

La Jolla Country Day head coach Terri Bamford has had teams play in the Stockton MLK event many times, including those years when she had Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year Kelsey Plum.

“Handling pressure is always the key against St. Mary’s,” Bamford said. “Te-Hina played great and everyone shot the ball well.”

Anya Choice had to be the choice for NorCal girls even before she played against La Jolla Country Day on Monday earlier this week. Photo: Harold Abend.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Girls Basketball Players of the Week

Anya Choice
(Cardinal Newman, Santa Rosa) Jr.

For our girls Northern California honoree, we go a little over 50 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge to the Redwood Empire portion of the CIF North Coast Section to honor a flashy junior who made it pretty easy to choose Choice as our choice for this week’s award.

Last Saturday, in a 64-49 victory over previous state No. 19 Bear Creek of Stockton at the MLK Classic in Oakland at Bishop O’Dowd, and with the 5-foot-8 Cardinals’ guard matched up against one of the top sophomore guards in California in the Bruins’ Mya Blake, it was all Choice after the top player in the Redwood Empire racked up 31 points (six rebounds) that included 23 points and all three of her three-pointers in a 50-point second half that helped Newman erase a 10-point late first-half deficit.

At the same time as Choice was putting a vise-grip on Bear Creek, Te-Hina Paopao of La Jolla Country Day went for 32 points in a derailing of host St. Mary’s at the MLK Showcase in Stockton.

At that point, a unique scenario was developing. La Jolla Country Day was staying in Stockton for MLK Day action on Monday, and they were playing a Cardinal Newman team that was making a 200-mile round trip trek from Santa Rosa to meet them.

That meant the possibility that the north versus south matchup of teams could also produce both Player of the Week winners in the same game, and for the first time ever in the history of the Player of the Week award, it actually happened.

Paopao was a smidgen higher in her stats for the game after finishing with 24 points and 12 rebounds, but it was Choice that got it done down the stretch in a 52-46 victory that propelled Newman into the state rankings where they replaced Bear Creek in the No. 19 spot.

Choice finished with a double-double 22 points and 10 rebounds with four assists. She hit for 14 of her points and two of her four three-pointers in a fourth quarter where Paopao was also taking over for her team. The step-back three-pointer Anya made with a minute left that gave Newman a 46-41 lead pretty much sealed the deal.

Paopao was a major focus of attention of the more than 50 college coaches in attendance in Stockton, but Choice, who one college coach at the MLK Showcase noted “is looking like one of the most improved players in California,” is definitely a lot higher up now on the radar screen of the recruiting process.

Anya had two other games last week. In a 64-27 victory over a cross-town arch rival Montgomery team that is the second-best team in the Redwood Empire, Choice was fighting a chest cold and didn’t have her best game, but still managed a game-high 17 points (two three-pointers) with seven assists and four rebounds. Later in the week against Sebastopol Analy in limited action of a North Bay League – Oak 76-36 victory, she went for 28 points with eight assists.

So far this season, and with her time limited in 11 running clock games for the 18-4 Cardinals, Choice is averaging 22 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.5 steals per game.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Boys Basketball Player of the Week

Jaden Shackelford
(Hesperia) Sr.

For our boys Southern California award winner, we go to the High Desert area of the CIF Southern Section to honor a young man that has literally been almost as hot as it gets in Hesperia in the summer time.

Last week, in an 84-49 home victory over cross-town rival Sultana, it was Jaden who was the Sultan after Shackelford racked up more points than the entire Sultans’ team. The 6-foot-3 Scorpions’ senior guard simply put the sting in Sultana to the tune of 52 points, including six three-pointers.

It was the third 50-point performance this season for Shackelford on a 16-8 Hesperia team that improved to 7-0 in Mojave River League action.

Complete stats were not available but if they were its likely Jaden would be right up there with the Southern Section scoring leaders since according to the Victor Valley Daily Press Shackelford has been lighting up High Desert teams at a 45-point per game average in league.

Shackelford may be from an area in Southern California that doesn’t get the hype like metropolitan Los Angeles, Orange County and CIF San Diego Section areas, but the colleges sure found him. Before signing in November with Alabama, he had a ton of interest and offers not only from the Crimson Tide but from Kansas State, Long Beach State, Montana, Pepperdine, San Francisco, UC Santa Barbara and Nevada Las Vegas.

George Navarro is from one of just two public schools to play for the CIF Division 5 title in boys basketball in the last 25 years. Photo:

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Boys Basketball Player of the Week

George Navarro
(Hoopa Valley, Hoopa) Sr.

We don’t usually honor players from most small schools because the competition is usually not very good and the result is the reported numbers can be astronomical, but this week we go a little outside the box in more ways than one.

Not only is our boys’ award winner from a small school gearing up for the CIF North Coast Section playoffs in Division V that played against a Division III enrollment school competing in Division IV, but Navarro is from the Hoopa Valley Reservation just northeast of Eureka on the Trinity River Highway just off the banks of the Trinity River.

The other anomaly is we usually don’t write up a player from a team that loses a game, but Navarro has been putting up some very consistent numbers all season so the decision was made to make him this week’s Northern California boys honoree. He’s been among the reported state scoring leaders all season and this also was just a good week to put George in the spotlight.

Last week, the Warriors ventured to Eureka, and although they came up short in an 84-64 defeat at the hands of the host Loggers, Navarro still was rolling himself after dropping in 35 of his team’s points. Earlier in the week the 5-foot-10 guard was a little below his 31.1 points per game average but still netted 27 points in 70-58 victory for the 17-6 Warriors over St. Bernard’s of Eureka in Humboldt-Del Norte Little 4 League action.

So far this season, the leading reported scorer in the North Coast Section has gone over 30 points 11 times and over 40 points on four occasions with a high of 42 points in wins over Antioch Cornerstone Christian and in league two weeks ago against Ferndale.

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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