NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week

SoCal Girls BB Player of the Week Jyah LoVett (left) works out under the watchful eye of her dad and head coach Marcus LoVett Sr. At right is NorCal Boys BB Player of the Week Jaylen Wells of Folsom. LoVett is a junior, Wells played final game on Tuesday. Photos: &

For our basketball honorees this week we have two from the San Gabriel Valley, including a girl from a city famous for its parade and the Rose Bowl for our SoCal award winners. We also head north and stop near one of the most famous prisons in the state, plus we go south of Fresno to a small town with an intriguing undefeated team and player.

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Note: For these honors, we consider CIF Central Section players for Northern California. To nominate anyone, email We are picking the winners on Monday nights for the rest of the spring season.

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

Jalen Wells
(Folsom) Sr.

We land 25 miles east of the state capitol on Highway 50 to a school located near the prison made famous by singer Johnny Cash for our weekly NorCal boys basketball honor. While Folsom football usually gets the most attention, Folsom basketball has produced some outstanding teams and players as well and Wells is the current Bulldogs’ star.

In fact, Sacramento Bee veteran sports writer Joe Davidson raves about Jalen and that alone is good enough to warrant Wells being honored as the Northern California Boys Basketball Player of the Week.

“Wells is terrific,” said Davidson on a Twitter direct message. “He grew three inches in the last year or so. He’s versatile and driven and has delivered perhaps the best season of anyone in the Sacramento region this season.”

Last week, in a 78-47 victory over Whitney of Rocklin, Wells had 30 points. In two other games last week, Jalen had 19 points in each, an 86-54 win over Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills and 50-46 against Granite Bay.

The 30 points in the Whitney win was the sixth time Wells has gone to the well for 30 or more points. His high was 36 (nine rebounds) in an early season 80-67 victory over Granite Bay.

We know Wells and the Bulldogs went down to Capital Christian by eight points on Tuesday night, but Jalen still had 20 points, and the loss or his performance in it takes nothing away from his accomplishments over the entire season, and that’s always part of out weekly honors, considering a player’s overall body of work.

Prior to the Capital Christian game, Wells was averaging 26.6 points per game.

Jacklyn Kulow (far right) stands with her family at recent Caruthers High senior night. She is leading scorer for unbeaten team. Photo: @BbCaruthers /

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

Jacklyn Kulow
(Caruthers) Sr.

Whenever we choose a player from “The Valley,” as the locals like to call the CIF Central Section, we always take the opportunity to remind readers that the Central Section is considered part of Northern California in all our Player of the Week features for all sports, girls and boys – and that’s where we land this week, smack dab in the middle of The Valley and just off Highway 41, halfway between Fresno and the Hanford/Lemoore area.

Talk about making a big splash. It’s not that Caruthers hasn’t been a small school Central Section girls hoops power, because over the last several seasons the Blue Raiders certainly have been that, and in fact they won the 2019 CIF Division V state championship. However, when we were doing the girls state rankings this week and saw they beat an albeit shorthanded Buchanan of Clovis, 75-47 that got them to 15-0, we certainly took notice and added them to the State Top 25 bubble.

Since Caruthers doesn’t post its stats, what we didn’t know was who was the big star in town this year, but we found it soon enough, and not surprisingly it is Kulow, who as a sophomore had 11 points and four assists in the 62-38 state title game victory over Ramona of Riverside. She probably would have had more in that game if Caruthers head coach Anna Almeida had not emptied the bench with Caruthers leading 46-11.

Last week was just a typical week for a consistent Kulow and a Caruthers team that has pretty balanced scoring.

Kulow started the week with a season high 26 points in a 58-29 win over Orange Cove. Jacklyn followed that up in limited time of a blowout of Fowler with 18 points. Then, in the win over Buchanan, Kulow led four girls in double-figure scoring with 18 points. On Saturday, and once again in limited time of a 62-33 rout of Oakhurst Yosemite, Kulow led the way with 17 points.

The Blue Raiders played on Monday, and in a 65-57 win over Atwater, Kulow helped the team finish the regular season 18-0 after going for a double-double 23 points and 14 rebounds. With the recent wins, Caruthers won its ninth-straight West Sequoia League title and extended its league winning streak to 84 games.

Now the big question is in what division will small town Caruthers and Kulow and her teammates’ land in the section and SoCal regional playoffs? Something tells us competitive equity is not going to be kind to this traditional small-town, small-school team, which shouldn’t have to be forced into playing state large school powerhouse Clovis West and others. Before any of that happens, though, we just wanted to give some credit to a player from such a team.

Andrew Bongo has averaged 22 ppg for a league championship team this spring. Photo:

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

Andrew Bongo
(Charter Oak, Covina) Sr.

We land in the San Gabriel Valley in our search for our Southern California Boys Basketball Player of the Week. It’s in the city of Covina that we find our award winner who has been burning the nets recently in helping Charter Oak to a current 11-4 record and a Valle Vista League title with a 9-1 record.

Last week, and pretty much all season, Andrew has had the Chargers’ fans going bonkers for Bongo.

In an 80-28 shellacking of crosstown Northview last week that gave Charter Oak no worse than a tie for the league title, Bongo went for a season-high 34 points on 14 of 20 from the field and 6 of 10 on three-pointers. He also added eight rebounds.

Two days later, the 6-foot-4 Bongo helped the Chargers secure the league title with a 76-42 victory over Diamond Ranch (Pomona) after leading five players in double-figure scoring with a double-double 18 points and 10 rebounds with three assists and three steals.

Bongo goes into a CIF Southern Section Division 3A first round match-up at home with Norco on Wednesday night averaging 22.0 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.3 steals and 2.2 blocks per game.

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

Jyah LoVett
(Muir, Pasadena) Jr.

We venture 15 miles northeast of downtown Las Angeles to a city made famous by the annual New Year’s Day Rose Parade and a historic Rose Bowl located just a stone’s throw away from John Muir High. In Pasadena we find LoVett, a junior star who has been putting up some astronomic numbers so far this season.

After playing her freshman season at Burbank Providence, and then being home-schooled her sophomore year, she enrolled at Muir for her junior year and is now playing for her father, first-year Mustangs’ head coach Marcus LoVett.

Jyah wasted no time after dropping in 55 points in a season-opening win over Pasadena Poly, and although LoVett made the stat stars that week we didn’t pick her for the SoCal Player of the Week. She followed that up with 49 points against Glendale Hoover and 31 in a 60-58 win over Arcadia.

Alas, Jyah gave us no choice but to make her this week’s honoree. Last Tuesday, Jyah had all but 11 of her team’s points after LoVett burned the nets for 61 points in a 72-66 win over Burbank. That is the first 60-point game ever for a girl from a Pasadena high school and is the 26th 60-point game reported in girls state history, according to our own state record files.

When it comes to scoring prowess, Jyah is following in the footsteps of her older brother, Marcus LoVett Jr., who scored 31.7 ppg as a freshman in 2011 at Providence. He later played at San Gabriel Academy, Morgan Park in Chicago, St. John’s University and is currently playing professionally overseas.

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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