SoCal/NorCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s honorees are Robby Beasley from Dougherty Valley (San Ramon) and Grace Bliss of Colfax. Photos: Simply Basketball / &

Every so often we remind readers that this feature helps us not only award outstanding performances, but uncover diamonds in the rough and entries for the Cal-Hi Sports Record Book. This week, we have one of those with Isabel Avalos from Buena Park. She joins a group that also represents Carlsbad in Southern California, and Colfax and San Ramon in Northern California.

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Note: For these honors, we consider CIF Central Section players for Northern California. This is the second week for basketball honorees. This feature too a break for the Holidays and now returns after the conclusion of major tournaments just before New Year’s day. To nominate someone by 12 noon on most Mondays, email

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

Robby Beasley (Dougherty Valley, San Ramon) Sr.

The shadow of the southwestern slopes of majestic Mount Diablo is our destination where we honor a boy who is no stranger to North Coast Section boys basketball fans as this week’s NorCal award winner

The question of how a team goes from 19-9 overall and 7-6 in the East Bay Athletic League last season to a current 22-2 mark overall and an EBAL 11-0 record with two games to go in league? The answer has a lot to do with Beasley transferring to Dougherty Valley from neighboring Dublin.

As was the case with our NorCal girls honoree, we could have picked Beasley previously but with Dougherty Valley having a three-game lead with two to play and thus wrapping up the EBAL, this seemed like a good week to honor Robbie.

In two games last week, the Montana–committed 6-foot-2 senior point guard had a double-double 28 points and 10 rebounds with seven steals in an 80-62 victory over crosstown California of San Ramon, and then followed that up in a 72-62 victory over San Ramon Valley of Danville with another double-double 17 points and 11 rebounds with four assists.

Beasley knocked down 21.0 and 17.3 points per game over the last two seasons at Dublin. The Gaels lost in the NCS D1 semifinals to eventual NorCal D1 champ James Logan of Union City. He is averaging more than 22 ppg this season. His kid brother, Ryan, also plays a key role for this year’s team as a freshman at Dougherty Valley. Once big brother heads off to college, the family should more than likely remain in the Bay Area basketball headlines.

In the final game of her prep career, senior Isabelle Avalos gained a spot in the state record book last week for making 13 three-pointers during a game for Buena Park vs. Fullerton. Photo: Courtesy school.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Girls Player of the Week

Isabelle “Izzy” Avalos (Buena Park) Sr.

For our Southern California girls award winner we land in Orange County and just across Interstate 5 from world famous Knott’s Berry Farm where we find a girl who makes the Cal-Hi Sports Record Book in the final game of her high school career.

Besides a parting gift from the Orange County Register as its Orange County Girls Athlete of the Week we send Izzy off as a senior with a statewide honor to boot.

Despite a 15-12 record that would have qualified for most section playoffs around the state, Buena Park was not awarded an at large seed in its CIF Southern Section division so the Coyotes’ season has ended, but not before Avalos blazed the nets to set a new Orange County standard.

Last week, in a 72-39 victory over Fullerton, Avalos, a 5-foot-9 senior wing, made 13 of 21 shots from beyond the arc for all of her 39 points, and she did it after coming off a game earlier in the week where she was hampered by a sore hamstring.

The 13 made three-pointers is a new Orange County record and breaks the 12 treys of Stephanie Lee of Brea-Olinda (Brea) during the 2018 season. And in special research that we decided to do this week, Izzy also is now in a tie for sixth on the all-time single-game state list. Among those she’s tied with at 13 is 2017 Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year Destiny Littleton (La Jolla Bishop’s).

On the season, Izzy has made 90 three-pointers and has made five or more in a game eight times, including five treys in a Freeway League loss to CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs No. 2 seed Troy of Fullerton.

Besides leaving her mark on Orange County, the Coyotes’ co-captain has left her mark on the Buena Park girls basketball program.

“Izzy is an amazing shooter with deep range, but an even better teammate than she is a shooter,” said Buena Park first-year head coach DeAnthony Wiley. “She has a very high basketball IQ and gets others involved with her creative passing, is always eager to learn new aspects of the game, and is willing to do anything it takes to help the team win. Izzy leads by example by having a positive attitude and smart approach to the game plan. It was an honor and a pleasure to have been able to coach her.”

Jailen Nelson of Carlsbad recently received his first college offer and has been consistently scoring near 25 ppg. Photo: @SDSportsAssn /

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

Jailen Nelson (Carlsbad) Sr.

The North County portion of the CIF San Diego Section is the destination for our Southern California Boys Player of the Week. In the coastal city of Carlsbad we find a 5-foot-11 point guard who has been lighting up the scoreboard recently and is starting to get some college interest as well.

Last week, in a 68-44 Avocado – West League win over visiting Mission Hills of San Marcos, Jailen was sailing after Nelson nailed down 34 points (11 of 19 from the field, 5 of 9 on three-pointers, 7 of 7 on free-throws) with five rebounds, five assists and four steals. Earlier in the week and in a 56-47 win at San Marcos, Nelson had 20 points and was 14 of 14 from the free-throw line.

The high-water mark for Nelson this season has been 40 points and he did that in a season-opening win over Escondido Orange Glen and again two weeks ago when he victimized Mission Hills the first time this season.

So far this season for the 19-7 Lancers and heading into Thursday night game with Canyon Crest Academy of San Diego, Nelson is averaging 24.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.7 steals per game. He’s made 57 three-pointers and 83 percent from the free-throw line.

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

Grace Bliss (Colfax) Sr.

For our Northern California girls honoree, the old historic town of Colfax in the Sierra Nevada foothills and the Mother Lode Country east of Sacramento is where we land.

For a small school, Colfax has done well this season and is currently 22-4 overall and 8-0 in the Pioneer Valley League heading into a Tuesday night showdown with Lindhurst of Olivehurst, and a whole lot of that has to do with Bliss.

When Grace graces the crowd like she has all season, Bliss brings bliss, mostly to the faithful.

We could have chosen any number of weeks to grace Grace ourselves, but we’re picking her not just for what she did last week, but all season and in a record-setting four-year varsity career at Colfax.

In two wins last week, 74-38 over Antelope Center and 59-24 over Bear River of Grass Valley, it was another day at the office for Bliss as she had 21 points in limited action of both games.

We’re not the only ones that like to have fun with the player’s names like we often do in this feature. In a February 7 Gold Country Media story by Nick Pecoraro, the title was “Goodness GRACE-ious! Colfax’s Bliss sets scoring record as Falcons secure PVL title.”

When Bliss connected on a three-pointer in the second quarter of the win over Bear River, Bliss became Colfax’s all-time leading scorer, surpassing Kellie Kuelper’s old mark of 2,073 that had stood since 1993.

Bliss now enters the final week of league play with 2,083 career points and is currently averaging 20.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.5 steals and 3.2 assists per game, and the 5-foot-10 senior wing has made 52 three-pointers and she has nine double-doubles this season.

What makes Bliss’ story even more blissful is besides carrying a 4.3 GPA in the classroom, she is a three-sport star that has been on Pioneer Valley League champions and CIF Sac-Joaquin Section champions in basketball, volleyball and track, and has earned the league MVP in all three sports. She was all-state from us in D4 last season in basketball and a few weeks ago was named all-state small schools by us in volleyball.

In volleyball, Bliss is an outside hitter and in track Bliss has dominated as a three-time section champion in the 300 hurdles with a chance to make a four-year sweep this spring. Bliss also owns individual section crowns in the 100 hurdles as a freshman and the long jump as a sophomore. She owns the school record for the 300 hurdles and the long jump.

We also want to give a shout out to the Bliss family as Grace and her twin brother Daniel Bliss, another three-sport star at Colfax, her father Jason Bliss, who played football, baseball and basketball for the Falcons in the 1980s, and her mother, Danielle Bliss, who played basketball and ran track at Colfax, are all dealing with Danielle having been diagnosed last spring with Stage 2 breast cancer.

Our prayers go out to the family and hopefully Grace earning a statewide honor and getting some recognition outside the Sacramento Metro area will bring some bliss to the Bliss household.

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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