All-State Girls BB: Best of Best

Future Stanford teammates Jzaniya Harriel of Antelope (left) and Kiki Iriafen of Harvard-Westlake are both among the first 10 on this year’s all-state team. Another first teamer also going to Stanford is Santa Ana Mater Dei’s Brooke Demetre. Photos: SportStarsMag.com & Twitter.com.


Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year Jayda Curry of No. 1 Corona Centennial leads the first team (top 10 overall) on the 41st annual Cal-Hi Sports all-state girls basketball team. Two sophomores who have both been state player of the year both land on this first group along with the girl from San Diego who’s been leading the Class of 2022.

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2021 CAL-HI SPORTS ALL-STATE
ELITE GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAMS

FIRST TEAM OVERALL

C – Isuneh “Ice” Brady (Cathedral Catholic, San Diego) 6-4 Jr.
After being named the 2019 State Freshman of the Year, the Dons’ center repeated class honors by snagging the 2020 State Sophomore of the Year award and now has the trifecta after being named the 2021 State Junior of the Year. It’s also a second straight All-State First Team Overall selection for Brady. She wasn’t a one-girl team but Ice is a huge reason the Dons finished as the No. 4 team in the Final expanded rankings and will be very high up in the upcoming preseason rankings. In the game that solidified their No. 4 spot, Brady was under her per game averages with 16 points and six rebounds, but she held her own against fellow first-teamer and Stanford-bound Harvard-Westlake star Kiki Iriafen in what was a 59-53 CIF Southern Regional Open Division quarterfinal victory. On the season Brady had per game averages of 16.3 points, 12.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.9 blocks. In 23 games played, Brady had 13 double-doubles and came close a few other times in blowouts where her time was limited. The big girl even made 22 3-pointers. For her three-year varsity career Brady already has reached two milestones with 1,493 points and 1,035 rebounds. Ice is committed to Connecticut.

C – Breya Cunningham (La Jolla Country Day) 6-4 Soph.
After being named the State Freshman of the Year in 2020 Cunningham was edged out this year by Juju Watkins, now at Sierra Canyon but while at Windward. Even so, as a sophomore she makes the Elite First Team for the second straight season. Cunningham had her season affected by the pandemic, club ball running concurrent to high school, and she didn’t play in the Southern Regional Open Division playoffs since she was trying out for and made the USA U16 Team that won a FIBA Gold Medal, but in 16 games she played the Torreys were 14-2 and 2-3 without her in the lineup. On the season, Cunningham averaged a double-double 16.6 points and 10.9 rebounds per game with 1.9 assists and steals and 1.7 blocks a contest. She had seven double-doubles, including 26 points and a season-high 16 rebounds in a 67-42 win over Bonita Vista of Chula Vista, and 19 points and 15 rebounds in a CIF San Diego Section Open Division semifinal loss to Bonita Vista that turned out to be her last game of the season. Cunningham does not have schools recruiting her listed, but ESPNW gives her a 5-Star rating and she reportedly has every major D1 program in the country after her.

UCLA commit Londynn Jones averaged just 0.1 less points per game at Centennial than Ms. Basketball Jayda Curry. Photo: BallerVisions / YouTube.com.


G – Jayda Curry (Centennial, Corona) 5-6 Sr.
After being given consideration for State Junior of the Year last season, the Cal-bound Curry not only makes the All-State Elite First Team for the second straight year, but this year she was awarded the biggest prize of all as the 2021 Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year after leading Centennial to a 25-1 record and the CIF Southern Regional Open Division championship. On the season, the 5-foot-6 point guard and floor general posted averages of 21.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 3.9 steals per game, and did it against the toughest schedule of any team in the state. She also shot 81 percent from the free-throw line and 37 percent from outside the arc on 55 made 3-pointers. Curry’s top performance came in a 100-77 victory over Bonita Vista, the No. 8 ranked team in the Cal-Hi Sports Final Expanded rankings. Curry finished with a career-high 50 points, with seven rebounds, four steals and three assists. In a 97-71 victory over No. 13 Windward of Los Angeles, she had a double-double 31 points and 12 rebounds with six assists and four steals. In the only game the Huskies lost, an 83-80 overtime defeat at home to Mater Dei in the Southern Section Open Division title game, Curry had 23 points, but in the rematch, a 65-51 victory in the SoCal Open title game, she posted a double-double after pouring in a game-high 27 points with 10 rebounds, seven assists, and four steals. Curry had 14 of her points in the third quarter when she led the visiting Huskies in repelling any Mater Dei comeback. For her career, Curry finishes as the all-time leader at Centennial in scoring with 2,183 points, and three-pointers with 265, including 55 last season. She also ends up with 567 rebounds, 399 assists and 375 steals. The assists and steals are No. 2 all-time in school history. Even if Curry had had 5-6 more games in a normal season for a team that would have played for a state championship, she would not have made the Cal-Hi Sports Online Record Book list for Most Points (Career), but her mark is still among the all-time leaders from the Inland Empire.

G – Brooke Demetre (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) 6-3, Sr.
In a normal year where we would have had finalists for Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year, the Stanford-bound McDonald’s All-American would have been right up there at the top of the list with Jayda Curry who edged her out for the title. Demetre, who was the CIF Southern Section Open Co-Player of the Year with Curry, had several other accolades, including California Gatorade Player of the Year, Orange County Register Player of the Year and the Los Angeles Times Player of the Year. Her top point output came when she went for 31 points and eight rebounds with four assists in a 63-60 victory over Final Expanded No. 4 ranked Cathedral Catholic, but Demetre’s best game of the season without question was a double-double 27 points (three 3-pointers) and 16 rebounds with three blocks and two assists, with the most important assist coming in the final sequence when she kicked it out to teammate Lani White who hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give the Monarchs an 83-80 victory over Centennial in the CIF Southern Section Open Division championship. Unfortunately, Centennial bottled her up in the rematch, a 65-51 loss in the CIF Southern Regional Open title game. On the season, Demetre, who can play any position on the court, averaged 15.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. Demetre also shot 55.8-percent from the field, 76-percent from the free-throw line and 45.2 percent from outside the arc on 28 made 3-pointers.

G – Jzaniya Harriel (Antelope) 5-9, Sr.
After being named All-State Second Team Elite last season, the Stanford-bound Harriel moves up to First Team Elite as the only representative from Northern California of the 10 girls selected for the first team. Jzaniya only played 10 games for the 9-1 Titans but that was an equivalent number of games of fellow First Team Elite selection and State Sophomore of the Year Juju Watkins. On the season Harriel averaged 28.3 points per game which is slightly higher than the 27 points she had in the team’s lone loss, 72-67 at home to state No. 14 Salesian of Richmond. Besides her points per game, Harriel also averaged 12.6 rebounds, 5.5 steals, 4.4 assists and 2.6 blocks per contest. She had nine double-doubles and in the one game she didn’t she had nine rebounds. Harriel shot 65-percent on 2-pointers and 49-percent on 41 made 3-pointers. Her lowest output was 20 points in a 60-point shellacking of Yuba City River Valley and her averages would have been even higher had not she been subbed for early in six other blowouts. Even so, Harriel went for over 30 points three times with a high water mark of 38 in a season-opening thrashing of Roseville. She had 35 points in a 70-45 win over Sacramento Inderkum and 33 points despite limited time in another 79-point win over River Valley. Her 2,335 career points currently qualifies for the Cal-Hi Sports Online Record Book on the Most Points (Career) list, but had Antelope played around 30 games like her first three varsity seasons, and had Jzaniya averaged 25 points per game, adding 500 points would have gotten her near the Top 20 all time. Her 1,138 rebounds doesn’t make the record book but that’s still a lot of glass for a 5-foot-9 guard.

C/F – Kiki Iriafen (Harvard-Westlake, Studio City) 6-1, Sr.
If we had finalists like in a non-pandemic year, the 2018 State Freshman of the Year, who was edged out by Brooke Demetre of Mater Dei as State Junior of the Year, would have been a Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year finalist for the third straight season. It’s a rarity, but of all the First Team Elite honorees, Iriafen, the ultimate double-double machine who will join Demetre and Harriel at Stanford, is the only player to be a four-time First Team Elite selection. It’s a bit unfair to call Kiki a one-girl team, but she hates coming out of games for a rest and there’s no question that without her the Wolverines would not have been 21-4 and ranked No. 5 in the Final Expanded Rankings, the highest finish in school history. This past season, Iriafen averaged a double-double 20.9 points and 15.8 rebounds per game. The rebounding mark was No. 6 reported in the state but the most for a player from any team in the final rankings. Kiki had 30 or more points three times and 19 or more rebounds nine times. Her biggest game came when she was matched up with fellow McDonald’s All-American and Elite First Team selection Rayah Marshall of Lynwood. Iriafen went for a monster double-double 37 points and 25 rebounds in an 80-54 trouncing of No. 6 Lynwood. Harvard-Westlake lost its last two games, 61-56 to Mater Dei in CIF Southern Section Open Pool play, and 59-53 to Cathedral Catholic in the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Regional Open Division, but Kiki went out in style with double-doubles, 21 points and 19 rebounds against Mater Dei, and 16 points and 21 rebounds versus Cathedral Catholic. For her four-year varsity career, Kiki will head to The Farm, as Stanford is called, after finishing with 2,454 points and 1,655 rebounds. Although pretty far down the list, the point total makes the Cal-Hi Sports Online Record Book Most Points (Career) list, but the rebounding total will be No. 18 all time on the Most Rebounds (Career) list.

G – Londynn Jones (Centennial, Corona) 5-5, Jr.
It isn’t often that two players from the same team make the All-State Elite First Team, but with the UCLA-committed Jones and Curry, it’s now two straight years after 2020 Ms. Basketball Te-hina Paopao and Breya Cunningham from La Jolla Country Day were selected. It’s hard to give all the awards to one team, and that’s something we try not to do, and Centennial was the State Team of the Year, Curry won Ms. Basketball, and head coach Martin Woods was the State Coach of the Year, but Jones made a legitimate case to be considered for State Junior of the Year. It may not be as high profile a transfer as Juju Watkins going from Windward to Sierra Canyon, but when Jones decided to move across town for this past season it made Centennial an even bigger contender than it was, and it showed in the 25-1 season and CIF Southern Regional Open Division championship. Curry may have led the Huskies in scoring at 21.4 points per game, but Jones couldn’t have been any closer behind her at 21.3 points a contest. Londynn also added 4.0 steals, 3.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. Jones shot 59-percent from the field, 37-percent outside the arc on 77 made 3-pointers, and tied Curry at 81-percent from the charity stripe. She went for 30 or more points three times with a high of 35 in a win over Bishop’s of La Jolla and 31 in a 92-54 crushing of Final Expanded No. 16 Orangewood Academy of Garden Grove. Jones had a team-high 25 points in the team’s lone loss, 83-80 in overtime to Mater Dei in the CIF Southern Section Open title game, and although she had an off night shooting, Londynn still finished with 18 points in the rematch won by the Huskies, 65-51, in the CIF Southern Regional championship.

Hannah Stines of Orangewood Academy made the most of her opportunity to play in big games in 2021 at her new school. Photo: Harold Abend.


G – Rayah Marshall (Lynwood) 6-3, Sr.
There is no question the USC-bound McDonald’s All-American would have been a finalist for Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year had we had them like in a normal non-pandemic season and not the wishy-washy one we had. Marshall, who jumps from Third Team Elite last season to First Team, wasn’t a one-girl team, as evidenced in the Lady Knights’ 57-47 victory over Etiwanda in the CIF Southern Regional Division 1-AA championship game when she was under her 23.7 points per game average with 17 points, but she was still the leading scorer. It’s hard to imagine Lynwood being ranked No. 6 in the Final Expanded Rankings and the highest since the days of 2002 Ms. Basketball Sa’de Wiley Gatewood if the Knights did not have Marshall. In fact, with the win over Etiwanda in the rubber match after the teams split two games, it was Lynwood’s sixth Southern Regional title but its first championship of any kind since 2013 when the Knights won the Southern Section 2-AA championship and went on to a Division II state championship. Marshall’s biggest game came in a 78-70 loss to Mater Dei in the CIF Southern Section Open Division Pool play when she pounded down a gigantic double-double 43 points and 15 rebounds with five blocks, four steals and three assists. In the first two games against Etiwanda, she had another huge double-double 34 points and 24 rebounds in a 67-50 victory, and 38 points and 15 rebounds with six blocks, three assists and three steals in a heartbreaking 72-71 overtime loss in CIFSS Open Pool play. On the season, besides the 23.7 point per game average, Rayah averaged 12.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.8 blocks and 2.3 steals per contest. She had 14 double-doubles and her numbers would have been higher had she not been pulled early in several blowout wins.

G – Hannah Stines (Orangewood Academy, Garden Grove) 5-11, Jr.
After transferring from Troy of Fullerton, Stines helped put the tiny school of less than 100 students on the map in a season in which the Spartans didn’t shy away from facing the state’s top teams but still finished 13-9 including a No. 16 spot in the Final Expanded Rankings, the highest ever in school history, and appearances in the CIF Southern Section Open Division and a semifinal finish in the CIF Southern Regional Division 1-AA playoffs. On the season, Stines averaged 18.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 3.4 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. She had two triple-double performances and 11 double-doubles. The first triple-double was against Webb of Claremont when she went for 20 points, 10 rebounds and 15 assists with seven steals in a blowout victory. The second one came in the quarterfinals of the SoCal 1-AA playoffs when she dropped in 15 points with 16 rebounds and 10 assists in a 72-54 victory over Carlsbad. The overall model of consistency was in double-digit scoring in all 22 games with a high water mark of 26 points in 59-51 victory over Windward as well as in a 55-43 victory versus Etiwanda. In an early season 60-54 victory over Long Beach Poly that set the stage for the season, Stines led the way with 25 points. Stines also had a double-double 22 points and 12 rebounds with six assists and three steals in a CIF Southern Section Open Division Pool play loss to top-ranked Centennial.

G – Juju Watkins (Windward, Los Angeles) 6-0 Soph.
Watkins was edged out for State Freshman of the Year by Breya Cunningham, but despite a season where her games were limited by several factors, including a tender ankle she was trying to nurture through her high school season, an AAU season going on at the same time that saw her compete at the highest levels, including the prestigious Boo Williams Invitational in Virginia, and ultimately a shot at a spot on the USA U16 Team she tried out for in June, made, and along with Cunningham won a FIBA Gold Medal, Watkins got the nod over Cunningham for State Sophomore of the Year. It’s also a second-straight All-State Elite First Team selection for Watkins. The game that pretty much cemented her sophomore award came against her new school when Juju had a gargantuan double-double after going for 44 points and 22 rebounds with five steals in 66-61 come from behind victory over Sierra Canyon. If that wasn’t enough, Juju went for 35 points and nine rebounds in a 97-71 loss to No. 1 Centennial (Corona) in CIF Southern Section Open Division Pool play. The Centennial game turned out to be the last game of her sophomore season. Her family decided to hold her out of the final Pool play game, a win over Torrance West, so as not to jeopardize her chances to make the USA U16 team. Without Watkins in the lineup, Windward opted out of the CIF Southern Regional Open Division playoffs. This will almost assuredly be the last time Juju is listed as from Windward, since in a blockbuster move, the top-rated player in the nation from the Class of 2023 has transferred to Sierra Canyon.

Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at marketingharoldabend@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend

Note: Co-founder Mark Tennis contributed to this report.


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