This is one of two inside looks at the leading seniors from the Class of 2021 who would have to be the top senior contenders to be Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year. They will be teammates soon at Stanford, which will be playing in the Final Four on Friday in San Antonio. Go inside for more about the amazing Brooke Demetre from Mater Dei of Santa Ana. For feature on Harvard-Westlake’s Kiki Iriafen, CLICK HERE.
Note: Yes, we know that a non-senior could also wind up being named Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year for the 2021 season. The other two leading contenders were freshmen in 2020 — Breya Cunningham of La Jolla Country Day and Juju Watkins of Los Angeles Windward. Both of them will be profiled soon as well.
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When we decided to do a preview of the top candidates for the annual Cal-Hi Sports Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year selection, pretty much everyone was in the most restrictive tiers, and whether or not there was going to be an actual season, when it would start, or how many games would teams be able to play, was still up in the air.
But the decision had already been made, and that was if there was any kind of a season at all, no matter the number of games, there would be statewide award winners for girls basketball and that meant a Ms. Basketball would be named for this season.
Back on February 1, when we stopped by Mater Dei to interview head coach and current interim Athletic Director Kevin Kiernan for a feature that was published last month, we also stuck around for part of the Mater Dei practice. While we waited to interview Coach Kiernan and prior to the practice, we watched his current star and Stanford-bound Brooke Demetre shoot around with her UNLV-bound teammate Alyssa Durazo-Frescas.
We told Demetre that despite all the uncertainties at the time, some of which still exist two months later, we were still doing statewide awards for girls basketball if there was any kind of a season, and she would obviously be a leading candidate for Ms. Basketball with several others, including her soon to be Stanford teammate and last season’s State Junior of the Year, Kiki Iriafen from Harvard-Westlake of Studio City.
The 6-foot-3 Demetre is the espnW HoopGurlz No. 11 rated recruit in the nation and No. 1 in California ahead of Iriafen, who barely edged her out for the State Junior of the Year award. The two future Cardinals have gone back and forth for individual honors the past three seasons with Demetre beating out Iriafen for State Sophomore of the Year after getting edged out herself for State Freshman of the Year
For the past two seasons, Demetre also has joined Iriafen as an All State First Team selection and Ms. Basketball finalist.
Last season, and on a team with a lot of girls who can score with six averaging five points a game or better, Demetre, who is listed as a guard but can play any position on the court, and is equally as comfortable on the perimeter where she can shoot the three-pointer as she is down low, was second to Durazo-Frescas in scoring at 12.5 points per game, made 49 three-pointers and shot just under 40-percent from outside the arc. Brooke also averaged 6.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game.
In what seems like eons ago but actually was just over 15 months ago, Demetre was the MVP of the Platinum Division of the West Coast Jamboree after Mater Dei defeated Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth, 43-42, in the championship game.
Brooke continued her stellar play right up to and including the playoffs. In the final game of Pool A play in the CIF Southern Section Open Division playoffs she put the team on her back. Trailing Sierra Canyon 58-54 with 1:43 left, Demetre scored the team’s final seven points in what ended up as a 61-60 overtime victory. Her off balance, twisting shot tied it at 58-58 in regulation and sent the game to overtime. From there, Demetre had three free-throws in the extra period to ice things and finished with 16 points.
She wasn’t the leading scorer but her double-double 13 points and 10 rebounds with two steals and two blocks was a huge part of the Monarchs’ 77-65 victory over Windward in the Southern Section Open Division title game, a first Open Division crown in Mater Dei history.
Brooke’s production was a little higher when she was the State Sophomore of the Year when led the team in scoring and rebounding with 14.6 points and 6.6 rebounds, plus 3.3 assists per game.
Basketball started for Demetre at a very young age, and so did her dreams of making something of herself through the sport.
“I started playing basketball in the fourth grade,” Demetre said. “Stanford was always a dream school and I knew if I worked hard I could one day make that a reality.”
Kiernan, who has had three previous Ms. Basketball winners — current Connecticut Sun star and 2011 winner Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, 2012 winner Nirra Fields, and 2015 winner and current Seattle Storm forward Katie Lou Samuelson — saw things in Demetre he liked the very first time he saw her on the court.
“The first time I saw Brooke play in our youth camps in the summer you could absolutely see there was a really good player there who would mature into a great player,” Kiernan said. “When I got to know her and how she worked, what a great teammate she was and how smart she was, I knew she was big time.”
Kiernan will admit that Mosqueda-Lewis is the best player he’s coached but he’s loathe to list his top players, however we still couldn’t resist asking the proverbial question of where Demetre ranks on the list?
“Top eight for sure,” Kiernan said with a chuckle.
We know Demetre is a great basketball player but what about her as a person and teammate?
“Brooke is one of the best I have ever coached as a leader, teammate and just the way she handles herself,” Kiernan said. “She does the right thing on a daily basis.”
Besides her prowess on the hardwood, Brooke is the ultimate student-athlete. She had to be to get into Stanford.
“My GPA is 4.55,” Demetre said. “In the last four years all of my core classes have been either AP or Honors courses. Specifically, this year I am taking AP Language and Composition, AP Calculus AB, and AP Macroeconomics.”
With what Demetre is studying at Mater Dei she has a lot of choices for a course of study and a career, but Brooke is still a little undecided about her direction and a potential career choice.
“I’m looking forward to being able to explore my options and narrowing down what I want to study,” Demetre said.
That’s all in the future, but for now there’s a season and Demetre and the Monarchs are off to a 2-0 start and Brooke had played well in both games.
Like all the other seniors going on to play in college, the basketball season should be over not just starting, and Brooke should be finishing up high school and preparing for the next level, and she should have been joining Iriafen, Ryah Marshall of Lynwood and Clarice Akunwafo of Rolling Hills Prep of San Pedro in the McDonald’s All American Game.
Instead, Demetre opened the long awaited season by barely breaking a sweat with 12 points and seven rebounds in a 78-24 rout of nearby Crean Lutheran of Irvine. Earlier this week, Brooke had 22 points, eight rebounds and four assists in another easy win, 85-44, over neighboring Esperanza of Anaheim.
Kiernan has seen significant improvement in several aspects of Demetre’s game
“Brooke has really worked on her range as a three point shooter and she has improved tremendously as a defender, particularly a help defender,” Kiernan said. “She has come a long way defensively.”
When asked how anxious she and her teammates were to have some kind of season and what are her and the team’s goals, Demetre had this to say.
“We were more excited than anxious,” Demetre said. “We just couldn’t wait to finally play after having such a long off season full of tons of practice and hard work.
“My personal goal for this season is to be a strong leader for my team and improve in every aspect of my game from last year, and get ready for Stanford,” Demetre continued. “The team’s goal is to play together and take care of business.”
Speaking of Stanford again. What was it like to be accepted, what is Brooke looking forward to most about going there, and how does she feel she will fit in with the Cardinals.
“Super exciting, and honestly a sense of relief,” was the answer about being accepted.
“I’m looking forward to being challenged academically and athletically,” continued Demetre. “I can’t wait to learn from the coaches and my teammates and grow as a person and player. I think I will fit in well at Stanford, the girls on the team are all amazing. As far as basketball goes, I’m going to go in and find my role on the team, giving my best effort in whatever that may be.”
Sports are a big part of the Demetre family, but somewhat surprisingly Brooke is the only hoopster.
Her mother, Jennifer Demetre, played volleyball at Gonzaga. Doug Demetre, her father, played baseball at Gonzaga and for the Yankees’ minor league team in Oneonta.
Besides her father, Demetre has two brothers that play baseball, her 18-year old twin Peyton Demetre, and 16-year old Reggie Demetre.
Stanford is still a few months off in the future, and then there are four years of college, but then what, WNBA, Olympics and a career after basketball?
“If the opportunity presents itself, I want to play in the WNBA, overseas, and in the Olympics,” Demetre remarked. “I want to play professionally and once basketball ends, I want to go into a different career, but I’m still figuring out what that may be.”
Kiernan still has Demetre for more games, but he too is looking at the future.
“I will really enjoy watching her play at Stanford,” Kiernan said in conclusion. “A beautiful fit.”
Mater Dei has another 23 games scheduled starting with Glendora next Tuesday, and who knows, if Demetre continues her stellar play, she could be heading off to The Farm as Stanford is called, with some statewide awards in her pocket, even possibly Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year.
Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend