Preseason Girls BB State Ranks (1-15)

Jada Williams (left) already has an endorsement deal that shows how highly regarded she is in national girls hoops circles. Her La Jolla Country Day teammate, Breya Cunningham (right), had a summer and spring that showed she should be one of the top players in the nation this season as well. Photos: lajollalight.com (courtesy Spalding) & ljcds.repuschool.com.


La Jolla Country Day starts on top with point guard-center combo that may be just as good as mythical national champs from two years ago. Inland Empire duo of Etiwanda and Corona Centennial also in top five while St. Mary’s of Stockton gains the preseason nod for teams from Northern California.

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For a look at the teams we’ve ranked from No. 16 to No. 40, plus 15 more on the bubble, CLICK HERE.

For last season’s final state rankings, CLICK HERE.

It has only been since around the Fourth of July when we did our Final Expanded Rankings for the COVID-shortened season but my how things have changed at the top of the state in girls basketball due to the transfer factor.

Then there the types of transfers — those with sit outs required and those that don’t — that also is a situation to consider for preseason rankings. Transfers also will impact others further down in the pecking order as well.

That means that where teams finished in the abbreviated season will still have an impact but who returns and who transfers in or out is going to have an even bigger impact. Another factor is some top players missed games due to COVID protocols and the CIF allowing club and high school competition simultaneously for the first time. There won’t be any of that now that we are back to what we all hope is a normal season other than the various indoor sports mask policies in some counties.

2021-22 CAL-HI SPORTS PRESEASON
GIRLS BASKETBALL STATE RANKINGS

(This is the 41st consecutive season that CalHiSports.com will provide state rankings in girls basketball, which is just one year shy of how long we’ve done boys; Last year’s final rating in parentheses with 2020-21 won-loss record; *Forfeits not included.)
(Cal-Hi Sports co-founder and editor Mark Tennis contributed to these rankings)

1. (11) La Jolla Country Day (La Jolla) 16-5
Some may wonder how the Torreys can make such a huge jump in such a short time between the COVID-shortened spring season’s final expanded rankings and these preseason rankings. The answer was partially answered in the intro. Transfers. The other part of the answer is head coach Terri Bamford already had some of the top returning talent in the state led by 2020 State Freshman of the Year Breya Cunningham. The 6-foot-4 and 5-star recruit is a perfect example of a player impacted by both club ball and COVID protocols. With Cunningham in the lineup in the spring, the Torreys were 14-2 and were 2-3 without her, including two losses to final No. 1 Centennial. During one of the absences Cunningham, who enters this season as one of the top candidates for Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year, was busy earning MVP honors in leading the Cal Stars to the championship of the Boo Williams tournament, the most prestigious girls club tournament in the nation. When the season was over, she made First Team for the victorious Cal Stars at the Nike Nationals and was technically one of only two California girls at that time to be selected to the Gold Medal winning USA U16 team at the 2021 FIBA Americas U16 championship. Breya’s numbers were a little lower last season than in her freshman year but still a very solid 16.6 points and 10.9 rebounds per game. Cunningham had dozens of offers but has narrowed it down to Arizona, Connecticut, Duke, Notre Dame, Oregon, Southern California, Texas and UCLA. When we said Cunningham was technically one of two California girls at the time to make USA U16 that was because current Torreys’ junior point guard Jada Williams had not yet played for Country Day after transferring from Blue Springs, Missouri. Not only was Williams a teammate of Cunningham on the Gold Medal winning team, she was one of two USA players to be named to the 2021 FIBA Americas U16 Championship All-Star Five. Williams also immediately becomes one of the top Ms. Basketball candidates along with Cunningham. Two years ago, Country Day had the state and nation’s top outside/inside combination when Ms. Basketball Te-Hina Paopao and Cunningham led the way to a final No. 1 state and national ranking. Now with Williams and Cunningham, the Torreys have what looks like the top combo like that in the state and possibly the nation once again. The supporting cast is strong as well. Sophomore guard Tajianna Avant-Roberts (11.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.3 asssits,1.8 steals last season) is back after being selected First Team All State Freshman in the spring season. Other solid returners include junior Sumayah Sugapong (9.3 ppg), sophomore guard Naomi Panganiban (7.8 ppg, 3.3 assists), and sophomore guard Aaliyah Stanton (5.1 ppg), plus others. La Jolla Country Day opens next week at the Redondo Union tournament, then hosts its own Sweet 16 December 1-4, moves on to the Nike TOC in Arizona, the Nike Holiday Classic in Portland, and finally the Las Vegas MLK in January.

Kennedy Smith puts up a shot for Etiwanda last season. Photo: Courtesy school.


2. (12) Etiwanda 18-5
After dropping seven spots in the final rankings last season to No. 12, the Eagles come into the preseason rankings 10 spots higher and with an argument for the top spot. We had alluded to the fact Etiwanda would be higher in the preseason rankings after the spring and the girls certainly are. The reason is based on returning a ton of underclass talent, a senior D1 prospect back from an injury, a transfer that gives head coach Stan Delus four first team all-state selections, plus for the first time since Delus took the helm in 2017 he has a true point guard to go with the Eagles’ size. The top returner is Kennedy Smith, a 6-foot-1 sophomore and reigning State Freshman of the Year who can play multiple positions. Smith finished the season averaging 22.4 points, 11.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.8 steals per game as a freshman go-to player. Smith has major interest from the Pac-12, Big-10 and Big-12. Fellow First Team Freshman selection and 6-foot sophomore wing Destiny Augubata is back as well. She reportedly has offers from Big East, WCC, Big West and Big-10 schools. Senior Daisia Mitchell is back from a broken foot. Despite missing a chunk of the season, the 6-foot wing was still a First Team Juniors honoree. The transfer from Eisenhower of Rialto that won’t have to sit out due to a residency change is junior Sa’lah Hemingway. The 6-foot-1 forward was a First Team Sophomores selection last season and one of two sophomores to be named Division 2A All CIF Southern Section. Last season at Eisenhower she tied for the team lead at 18.4 points per game, led the team in rebounds, steals and blocks at 12.4, 2.8 and 2.8 respectively, and was second in assists at 3.3 per game. The point guard is freshman Aliyahna “Puff” Morris and just about every analyst and coach we talked with said she is the top incoming freshman point guard in Southern California. Another player to look for is Majesty Cade. The junior forward was a Second Team Sophomores selection last season and reportedly has an offer from Texas Tech. According to Delus, he’s even deeper than that and has 10 players in the rotation. We’ll see how things play out but on paper Etiwanda is loaded to bear.

3. (1) Centennial (Corona) 25-1
The Huskies may have lost Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year Jayda Curry to graduation and Cal where she’s already made her mark with over 20 points in the Bears’ first two games, but head coach Martin Woods still has a ton of talent and Centennial will start the preseason rankings directly behind its Inland Empire rivals from Etiwanda. The Huskies lost a Ms. Basketball but they have another legitimate candidate this year in UCLA-bound guard Londynn Jones. Last season, Jones, who joined Curry as Best of Best First Team Overall Elite All State, as well as First Team All State Juniors and a runner-up finish as State Junior of the Year, was right behind the 21.4 points per game of Curry with 21.3 points per game. Jones also added 4.0 steals, 3.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. Another standout returner is Jayda’s little sister, Layla Curry, who recently signed on with Loyola Marymount. Last season, Curry averaged 8.9 points per game, and despite being only 5-foot-9 she led the team with 9.0 rebounds per game. Another player who’s poised to have a breakout season is junior guard Sydney Summers. Summers, who has major interest from Seton Hall, CSU Fullerton and CSU Northridge with Cal starting to warm up, was named All State First Team Sophomores after going for 9.3 points, a team-leading 7.4 assists, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.5 steals per game. Three other returners Woods sees as stepping up their contributions are senior Bella Law, junior Giuliana Catalano, and senior N’Dya Parks. Centennial also has four sophomore transfers, three that will be eligible at the end of December after sitting out. Woods will start Morgan Hawkins, a guard who transferred from Santiago (Corona) but didn’t play as a freshman so she is eligible immediately. The other three sit-outs are Karsen Marshall, a 5-foot-10 wing who comes over from Vista Murrieta (Murrieta) after averaging 7.7 points and 13.4 rebounds as a freshman, Windward (Los Angeles) transfer and guard Serenity Johnson, and Aniyah Offutt, a guard from Moreno Valley Rancho Verde. Centennial opens next week at the Redondo Union tournament, and will also play in the Nike TOC, plus it will be in the Platinum Division of the West Coast Jamboree.

Freshman Jordan Lee hit for 23 points in win by Stockton St. Mary’s last spring against Salesian of Richmond. Photo: @PhotosNextlevel.


4. (7) St. Mary’s (Stockton) 8-1
Despite the fact that like most teams in Northern California the Rams had their games limited in the Covid-shortened season and of all the top teams St. Mary’s played the fewest games of them all. Second season head coach and St. Mary’s alum Alle Moreno and her girls start out as the top team in Northern California and depending on what the two teams above them do they could move up or possibly drop early after competing in some of the top national tournaments starting with the Capital Classic in Washington, D.C. in a game against St. Paul VI of Virginia, two games at the She Got Game in Virginia against New York Long Island Lutheran and Pennsylvania Cardinal O’Hara. Next is the Nike TOC in Arizona, and finally the Platinum Division of the West Coast Jamboree. The Rams will also play preseason national No. 14 Incarnate Word of Missouri at their MLK event and at the Matt Denning event at Mater Dei they will face the Etiwanda team right above them. Moreno returns her entire talented roster of 11 girls with three that were double-figure scorers and eight that averaged 6.8 ppg or better. Junior combo guard Brook Perry, who was an All State First Team Sophomores last season, and who’s starting to accumulate some offers, led the team in scoring at 19.1 points per game and added 4.3 rebounds a contest as well. First Team Freshmen honoree Jordan Lee, who had St. Mary’s played more games would have challenged for State Freshman of the Year. The 6-foot Lee, who boasts a 4.4 GPA and has around 20 offers including Cal and Stanford, was right behind Perry with an 18.1 ppg average last season, and she led the team with 6.6 rebounds per game. Another player to look for is Nia Anderson. The junior guard who has offers from San Jose State, Santa Clara, Hawaii, Cal Poly and UC San Diego, had per game averages of 12.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and a team-leading 2.8 assists per game last season. Jordan’s big sister, senior Sophia Lee, returns after averaging 8.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Moreno has three transfers and a newcomer that could be impact players. The newcomer is incoming freshman point guard Nyah Bunton. She was impressive in a summer showcase event for all younger players. As for the transfers, Jamaya Perry, a 6-foot-1 junior that saw limited action at Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) last season, will be immediately eligible as her family moved to the area. Nyah Lowery a 5-foot-11 wing will sit out and miss the tournaments. The little sister of current Washington guard Nia Lowery averaged 14.1 points 9.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists last season at West Sacramento River City. The third transfer is Imani Morris, a 6-foot-4 junior that averaged 8.5 points and 7.8 rebounds at Stockton McNair last season. She will also sit out. St. Mary’s is already loaded but will be even better after the December 31 sit out period is over.

5. (2) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 17-1*
Like the Centennial team they split with last season, winning the CIF Southern Section Open title game but losing in the Southern Regional Open championship, the Monarchs lost their best player with Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year close runner up and Best of Best First Team Overall Elite All State selection Brooke Demetre going off to Stanford. Plus, Alyssa Durazo-Frescas is now at Nevada Las Vegas and others graduated as well. Even so, head coach Kevin Kiernan, the state’s all-time winningest coach, will still go after career win No. 823 with a loaded lineup. The Monarchs will be led by the 5-foot-11 senior duo of Lani White and Soleil Montrose. Both recently signed letters of intent with Montrose (10.8 ppg last season) inking to Utah and White (8.6 ppg) committing to Texas El Paso. Another player who could have a breakout season is junior point guard Caia Elisaldez. She averaged 8.7 points and 4.4 assists last season. Gabby Robinson, a sophomore point guard who saw limited action last season but has an offer from Virginia, looks ready to step up. Jenessa Cotton, a 6-foot-2 sophomore post who is related to former boys standout Schea Cotton, will be eligible after transferring from Orange Lutheran and sitting out last season. Another big who was hurt last season but is back is 6-foot-1 sophomore Isabel Clark. A newcomer that could make an impact and is considered one of the top incoming freshmen guards in Southern California is Shaena Brew. Mater Dei will play in the Troy tournament, the Best of the West at Ayala of Chino Hills and the Nike TOC in Arizona.

6. (4) Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) 20-4
The CIF San Diego Section Open Division champions fall in behind the Mater Dei team that ended their season, 66-54, in the CIF Southern Regional Open Division semifinals and land as the No. 2 team from what looks like a very strong contingent of CIF San Diego Section teams. Connecticut-bound Isuneh “Ice” Brady, the 2019 State Freshman of the Year, 2020 State Sophomore of the Year, reigning State Junior of the Year, and No. 2 rated senior post player and No. 5 overall by ESPN, will look to make it a clean sweep if as one of the leading candidates she can take home the Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year honors. Brady averaged 16.3 points and 12.7 rebounds per game last season but wasn’t the Dons leading scorer, as that was Itzel “Izzy” Navarro. The senior guard, who has committed to Loyola Marymount, averaged 18.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game and led the team in assists and steals with 5.3 and 5.3, respectively. Besides those two, head coach Jackie Turpin returns all but one senior. Another solid returner is Taryn Johnson. The senior wing, who committed to the University of Houston last week, was third on the team in scoring last season at 15.4 points per game and second in rebounds at 6.9 per contest. Cathedral Catholic will be tested right out of the box when it opens next week with Rosary (Fullerton) in the Battle of the Beach at Redondo Union.

7. (10) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 13-2
The Monarchs come in to the preseason rankings as the No. 2 team in Northern California behind the St. Mary’s team that tripped them up, 73-63, at home to open the COVID-shortened season. Head coach Sue Phillips, the USA Basketball U16 Gold Medal winning head coach and the No. 4 all-time winningest coach in California according to the Cal-Hi Sports Online Record Book with 744 career victories, loses a ton of talent with the graduation of current college freshmen Hunter Hernandez, Olivia Williams, Amelia Scharpf, Marley Langi, and Katie Springs, but Phillips always seems to have girls ready to step up. A player to look for that some scouts and analysts are calling the top sophomore combo guard in Northern California is 6-foot Morgan Cheli, an All State First Team Freshmen last season. She recently received an offer from Cal and according to Phillips a lot more major offers are coming. Two senior guards that Phillips sees as stepping up their game are Seattle-bound Noemi Bariteau (4.7 ppg) and Texas San Antonio-committed Siena Guttadauro. Junior 6-foot forward Maya Hernandez (4.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg), the little sister of Hunter Hernandez, looked great this past summer and has several D1 offers according to Phillips, who is also looking for contributions from her 5-foot-10 twin sister, Haley Hernandez. Makayla Moore, a 6-foot wing, may be a senior, but she still has signed with Seattle despite limited action behind so many D1 players on the season’s roster. A newcomer to look for according to Phillips is 6-foot junior forward Elle Hanson. Mitty is in the Iolani Classic, the Cardinal Newman tournament and the Platinum Division of the West Coast Jamboree.

New Sierra Canyon player Juju Watkins, longtime Archbishop Mitty of San Jose head coach Sue Phillips and La Jolla Country Day standout Breya Cunningham were all part of USA Basketball U16 national team that won a world cup competition last summer. Photo: @coachsphillips / Twitter.com.

8. (21) Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) 20-5
The team in the top 10 making the biggest jump from where it finished in the Final Expanded Rankings is the Trailblazers, and an argument can be made for head coach Alicia Komaki and her girls to be a lot higher. The reason for the jump and what makes the team one of the favorites for the CIF Open Division state title is quite simply the fact that Sierra Canyon now has Juju Watkins in the fold after she transferred from Windward. The reason the Trailblazers are starting where they are is that as of now Watkins may or may not have to sit out until after Christmas. Her family has reportedly moved to the area but as of the release of these rankings the paperwork had not been submitted to the CIF Southern Section. Whether Watkins sits out the full period or just a few games, the young Trailblazers also have to start the season because, while super-talented, they did not make the CIF Southern Regional playoffs last season. The top returner is sophomore sensation MacKenly Randolph. This past season she posted per game averages of 22.7 points and 13.5 rebounds with 2.7 assists per game. Those numbers earned her Freshman All-State First Team and made her a close runner-up as the State Freshman of the Year. Two other sophomore guards to look for are Izela Arenas, a First Team Freshmen selection last season, and Christy Reynoso. Now, with Watkins, the Trailblazers are a legitimate top contender once they get in sync. Watkins, the reigning State Sophomore of the Year, showed just why she is regarded as one of the top if not the top preseason candidate for Ms. Basketball when she was one of only two USA U16 team members to be named All-Star Five, plus she was honored as the MVP after a tournament record 28 points in leading the American girls to the 2021 FIBA Americas U16 Championship in a lopsided victory over Canada. If this team gels once Watkins is in action, don’t be surprised if after all is said and done in March when it counts, Sierra Canyon ends up at the top of the heap. Top tournaments for the Trailblazers are the McDonald’s Classic in El Paso, Texas, the Doc Larson tourney in Alaska, and the Gold Crown hosted by Bonita Vista in Chula Vista.

9. (3) Clovis West (Fresno) 20-1
Head coach Craig Campbell lost Nikki Tom (now at UC Irvine) but he still has a ton of returning talent. We’re starting Clovis West right below Sierra Canyon since the Golden Eagles are in a similar situation with Etoyah Montgomery as the Trailblazers are with Juju Watkins. Montgomery, a junior wing who is starting to garner some solid college interest, transferred to crosstown San Joaquin Memorial, however she never played for the school. Now, Montgomery is back at Clovis West and according to Campbell they are working on her eligibility. How many games she will miss or whether she will have to sit out is still up in the air. With her and sophomore sensation Athena Tomlinson as a 1-2 punch, Clovis West may very well make some noise again this season. Last season, Montgomery averaged 17.1 points and 8.2 rebounds per game and Tomlinson, who over the summer looked every bit like one of the top sophomore point guards in the state, added 10.1 points, 3.2 assists and 3.1 steals per context. Other players Campbell is looking at to step it up this season are seniors Kennedy Vincent and Michaela Young, and sophomore point guard Ariyah Smith. Clovis West also has two flashy incoming freshmen, wing Riley Walls and point guard Keegan Medeiros. The Golden Eagles host their Nike Central Valley Showdown, and then travel to the Nike TOC and the Sandra Meadows event in Texas. They are also playing in showcase events at Mater Dei, St. Mary’s (Stockton) and Carondelet.

10. (NR) Troy (Fullerton) 16-10
Despite being on the Bubble for the Final Expanded Rankings from last season, every analyst and coach we talked to pegs the Warriors as the No. 2 team in Orange County behind Mater Dei. The returning talent is pretty solid but it’s the transfers that have us giving veteran and affable head coach Roger Anderson and his girls a top 10 spot. The biggest one is Jada Wynn. Wynn, the daughter of former Brea-Olinda (Brea) star and 1991 and 1992 All State selection Jody Anton (married last name Wynn), is a 6-foot combo guard who has played for King’s in Seattle, Wash., while her mother served as the women’s basketball coach at the University of Washington. Wynn reportedly has several D1 offers. Another senior transfer is solid D1 prospect and All State First Team Juniors selection Hannah Stines. After two years at Troy she transferred to Orangewood Academy and is now back at Troy awaiting eligibility. Stines is starting to get some Major D1 attention and once she’s in action the Warriors will be very formidable. Two senior returners to look for are Westmont College-bound point guard Isabella Pearson and combo guard Aliyah Gonzalez. Pearson led the team in scoring and assists last season with 15.9 points and 4.2 assists per game, and Gonzales was steady at 9.2 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. Troy has already played two games and won both with Wynn going for 19 points and 12 rebounds and Gonzales with 14 points in a 58-35 victory over Long Beach St. Anthony at the Oxford tournament.

11. (14) Salesian (Richmond) 14-1
The Pride come in as the No. 4 team in Northern California (including Clovis West) and the top team from the CIF North Coast Section after an abbreviated season that saw them lose once, 69-50 on the road at St. Mary’s of Stockton. Head coach Stephen Pezzola returns all but one senior starter on a Pride team to be led by Silivia Fonongaloa. The 6-foot-1 senior post was an All State First Team Juniors selection after averaging 13.3 points and 6.4 rebounds despite missing a couple of games when she was under the weather. Another solid senior returner is Nevaeh Asiasi. The little sister of former De La Salle star and current New England Patriots team member Devin Asiasi averaged 9.0 points and 4.1 rebounds per game last season. Pezzola has several other girls who averaged around 5.0 points a game or higher led by 5-foot-10 senior wing Georgia Pournaras (7.3 ppg last season), plus 5-foot-10 senior wing Kaylie Edge (5.5 ppg), junior point guards Makiah Asidanya (5.7 ppg, 3.5 rpg) and Sofia Fidelus (5.0 ppg), and Nevaeh’s little sister and junior forward Nyana Asiasi (4.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg). Salesian opens with up and coming St. Ignatius. The Pride will be playing in the Iolani tournament in Hawaii and the Platinum Division of the West Coast Jamboree.

12. (9) Pinewood (Los Altos Hills) 16-0*
The Panthers lost a lot of talent to graduation but none of them were 4-star recruits like Washington-committed Elle Ladine, a transfer from San Francisco Lowell who missed early games but came on in the playoffs and was instrumental in leading Pinewood to the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division title after a season ending win over Archbishop Mitty. Despite limited playing time when she first broke into the lineup, the 5-foot-11 senior wing, who made All State Third Team Juniors, averaged 8.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Another solid returner is guard Emily Lee. She averaged 8.5 points and 2.6 rebounds a game and made 28 three-pointers in the abbreviated season. Junior guard Jade Ramirez (4.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg last season) returns, as does Gabrielle Harris, a 6-foot senior who averaged 4.3 points and 4.8 rebounds a game in limited action last season. Veteran head coach Doc Scheppler, who comes into the season No. 8 all time in the state with 675 career coaching victories, always has girls who can shoot the ball, and now with Ladine as the centerpiece Pinewood should be as good as ever. Pinewood has a couple of interesting games early on with San Ramon Valley (Danville) and St. Ignatius of San Francisco.

Natalie Pasco had back-to-back 40-point games during one week last spring. Photo: @Srvladywolves / Twitter.com.


13. (22) San Ramon Valley (Danville) 11-0
As we mentioned in the Final Expanded Rankings, trying to compare the Wolves, who didn’t play a game outside the East Bay portion of the CIF North Coast Section, with teams from Southern California, is somewhat futile, but there is no question San Ramon Valley is loaded with returning talent and deserves this ranking as the No. 2 team from the CIF North Coast Section to start the season. The top returner is Natalie Pasco. After putting up some astounding numbers (28.3 points per game, 13.0 rebounds, 49-percent on 32 made 3-pointers, 62-percent overall from the field), the 5-foot-10 wing, who has committed to Boise State, was not only the San Francisco Chronicle Metro Player of the Year and the Bay Area News Group Bay Area Player of the Year, but also an All State First Team Juniors honoree. Besides Pasco, the Wolves return sophomore guard and First Team Freshmen selection Sierra Chambers (11.4 ppg), senior Allison Stern (11.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg), senior Sadie Carter (9.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg), and junior Anneka Lupinek (8.3 ppg) and they all can shoot the 3-pointers. The Wolves may not have played outside the Bay Area last season but this season they do, including the Pinewood team right above them in these rankings in early December.

14. (18) Esperanza (Anaheim) 22-4
For some reason, the Aztecs didn’t appear on some of the preseason radar screens by some analysts, but based on where they finished last season, as a CIF Southern Regional Division 1-A semifinalist, and the fact they return 10 of the 12 girls on last year’s roster, Esperanza clearly has to be this high up in the preseason state rankings. We are, however, holding them back a bit since they are not playing a real tough schedule. The top returner is Alyssa Kubo. Besides being named All CIF Southern Section Division 1 last season, the senior combo guard was named All State First Team Juniors after averaging a team-leading 16.8 points per game, plus 5.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.2 steals a contest. Two solid juniors who return are combo guard Kaiya Mack (12.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg), and 5-foot-11 forward Julia Lavigne. She averaged 11.5 points per game and led Esperanza with 8.2 rebounds a game.

15. (17) Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 13-2*
The Jackrabbits lost a ton of talent to graduation, so despite the fact they beat Esperanza in both the CIF Southern Section Division 1 title game and the CIF Southern Regional Division 1-A semifinals by comfortable margins, head coach Carl Buggs and his girls fall in behind Esperanza. With what Poly lost to graduation, some may feel this is a bit high, but Buggs, who comes into the season with 561 career coaching victories, always loses talent but always seems to have girls ready to step up and fill the void. This year’s team will be led by junior combo guard Nala Williams. The All State First Team Juniors selection was second on the team in scoring and rebounding with 14.0 points and 6.8 rebounds, plus 2.9 assists and 2.7 steals per game. Two girls to look for are senior wing Skylar Mills and sophomore guard Andrea Perkins.

For a look at the teams we’ve ranked from No. 16 to No. 40, plus 15 more on the bubble, CLICK HERE.

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


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