More Girls BB Players of the Year

Kennedy Smith of Etiwanda (left) has followed up her state freshman of the year honor from 2021 with the leading position as a sophomore. At right is 2022 State Senior of the Year Londynn Jones of Corona Centennial. Photos: Twitter.com & Cen10athletics.


Since Ms. Basketball this year for California was won by a junior, we had to choose a Senior of the Year to go with the usual State Sophomore and State Freshman of the Year. All three are from the Inland Empire with the sophomore and freshman coming from the same team. Three of the four divisional players of the year led their teams to CIF state titles.

For official writeup on the 2022 Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year, CLICK HERE.

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Congratulations to these girls players for being selected as a Cal-Hi Sports State Player of the Year. Writeups by Mark Tennis (Freshman, D2, D3, D5) and Harold Abend (Jr, Soph, D4). Note that Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year JuJu Watkins also would be considered the junior player of the year and the player of the year for those teams that were Open Division or Division I in the final state rankings. Stay tuned for the upcoming release of the 43rd annual Cal-Hi Sports All-State Teams. Here is a complete list of our other girls basketball individual players of the year for the 2022 season:

SENIORS
Londynn Jones (Centennial, Corona) 5-8 G

Whenever the Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year is not a senior, the door opens things up for another girl to win the honors for the senior class. While the UCLA-bound Jones was unable to duplicate the selection as Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year by last year’s winner and her former teammate, Jayda Curry, Jones has been named the State Senior of the Year over two other senior Ms. Basketball finalists, Stanford-bound Talana Lepolo of Carondelet (Concord), and Washington-signed Elle Ladine of Los Altos Hills Pinewood. Londynn’s future teammate with the Bruins, Gabriela Jaquez of Camarillo, also would have to be considered as a finalist.

Jones was somewhat overshadowed last season by Curry, but this year she needed to do more. Although she didn’t help take the team as far as the Huskies went in the COVID-shortened spring season where they won the CIF Southern Regional Open Division title, she was still among the state leaders in scoring after leading Centennial to a No. 6 spot in the Final Expanded rankings and a 26-7 record before bowing out 69-51 to Etiwanda in the SoCal Regional Open Division semifinals, a game in which Londynn had 27 points.

Early in the season, she went for 45 points (eight 3-pointers) in a win over Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) and hit the 40-mark a second time with 43 points in CIF Southern Section Open Division pool play in a win over Bishop Montgomery of Torrance. Jones came up big in some losses as well including 35 points (six 3-pointers) in a loss to La Jolla Country Day.

For the season, Jones hit for 30 or more points on seven occasions and had her minutes not been limited in some Big VII League blowouts, Londynn might have had even more impressive stats. Even so, her 25.2 points per game was 10th in the state in scoring and fourth in the CIF Southern Section behind her soon to be teammate Jaquez.

Jones’ 108 three-pointers also was 17th in the nation and the No. 6 reported mark in the state.

The left-hander’s career totals have now been officially verified. In four varsity seasons that started at crosstown Santiago for her freshman and sophomore years, Jones finished with 2,713 career points. That total is good for No. 27 all time in the state and No. 7 all time in the Inland Empire according to the Cal-Hi Sports Online Record Book.

State Seniors of the Year (when a non-senior has been Ms. Basketball): 2018 Aquira De Costa (Stockton St. Mary’s); 2002 Brooke Smith (Kentfield Marin Catholic); 1999 Leilani Estavan (Pacific Palisades Palisades); 1995 Jodi Parriott (Cerritos Valley Christian); 1989 Tesia Green (Sacramento Grant); 1986 Linda Staley (Palmdale); 1983 Jennifer Bennett (Pinole Valley Pinole); 1981 Angel Hardy (Berkeley).

Recent State Juniors of the Year: 2021 Isuneh “Ice” Brady (San Diego Cathedral Catholic); 2020 Kiki Iriafen (Studio City Harvard-Westlake); 2019 Vanessa DeJesus (Chatsworth Sierra Canyon); 2018 Charisma Osborne (Los Angeles Windward); 2017 Aquira DeCosta (Stockton St. Mary’s); 2016 Destiny Littleton (La Jolla Bishop’s); 2015 Sabrina Ionescu (Orinda Miramonte); 2014 Katie Lou Samuelson (Santa Ana Mater Dei); 2013 Jordin Canada (Los Angeles Windward); 2012 Kelsey Plum (La Jolla Country Day); 2011 Aly Beebe (Santa Maria St. Joseph); 2010 Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (Santa Ana Mater Dei); 2009 Chelsea Gray (Stockton St. Mary’s).

Aliyahna “Puff” Morris collected the first major honor of her career at the Nike Tournament of Champions. Photo: Erik Boal.


FRESHMEN
Aliyahna “Puff” Morris (Etiwanda) 5-5 G

Was there ever a doubt that it wouldn’t be a sweep of the state sophomore and state freshman of the year honors by the same team? On the freshman side of it, not really. Others were considered of course, especially Pacifica Christian’s Addison Deal, who averaged more than 23 ppg, but Morris was the third-leading scorer on an Eagles’ team that played a national-level schedule and was the catalyst of the offense from the point guard position.

This is only the second time since the freshman and sophomore of the year state selections began in 1984 that one team has gained both of them. The only other time it happened was in 2009 when Santa Ana Mater Dei had freshman Jordan Adams and sophomore Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis.

Morris was regarded as one of the top incoming ninth-graders among the top preseason ranked teams in the state, but one never knows about a freshman being injected into an already talented lineup and at Etiwanda and at the point guard position to boot. It was never a question for head coach Stan Delus, however, as Morris made her impact felt quickly, especially at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona as she turned heads of many coaches and analysts with her passing, scoring and tenacious defense.

With Morris at the point, Etiwanda won the Nike TOC with a title-game victory over Classen SAS of Oklahoma and later won the CIF Southern Section Open Division title with a 69-57 win against Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth. The Eagles suffered their only loss in the CIF SoCal Open Division final, 60-51, in a rematch with Sierra Canyon.

For the season, Morris averaged 16 ppg and was among the team leaders for assists and steals. She follows teammate Kennedy Smith as the state freshman of the year as well. Smith was the honoree just last season.

Recent State Freshmen of the Year: 2021 Kennedy Smith (Etiwanda); 2020 Breya Cunningham (La Jolla Country Day); 2019 Isuneh “Ice” Brady (San Diego Cathedral Catholic); 2018 Kiki Iriafen (Studio City Harvard-Westlake); 2017 Breanne Ha (Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos); 2016 Charisma Osborne (Los Angeles Windward); 2015 Aquira De Costa (Stockton St. Mary’s); 2014 Destiny Littleton (La Jolla Bishop’s); 2013 DiJonae Carrington (San Diego Horizon Christian); 2012 Katie Lou Samuelson (Huntington Beach Edison); 2011 Joesetta Fatuesi (San Jose Presentation); 2010 Kendall “K.C.” Waters (Oakland Bishop O’Dowd); 2009 Jordan Adams (Santa Ana Mater Dei).

SOPHOMORES
Kennedy Smith (Etiwanda) 6-1 F

The Etiwanda star was the lone sophomore to be named one of the six Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year finalists, so it should come as no surprise that the 6-foot-1 Smith, who can play down low or is comfortable handling the ball anywhere on the floor, has been named the State Sophomore of the Year after snagging the 2021 State Freshman of the Year honors.

The Eagles had a lot of depth and talent, including Destiny Augubata, who was also considered for sophomore of the year just like she was for freshman of the year, and State Freshman of the Year Aliyahna “Puff” Morris (see below), but it was Smith who was the driving force behind a 29-1 Etiwanda team that was No. 2 in the Final Expanded rankings and fell two games short of a dream season.

When Smith had 19 points, seven rebounds, three steals and three assists in the Eagles’ 69-57 victory over Sierra Canyon in the CIF Southern Section Open Division championship game, Smith was the centerpiece. With major D1 offers already in from a group that includes UCLA, Cal, Washington State, Arizona, Rutgers and Houston, Sierra Canyon focused its defense on her and in the rematch they did everything it could to neutralize Smith. She finished with 10 points and eight rebounds in the CIF Southern Regional state title game 60-51 loss. Because of that loss, Kennedy didn’t get to join her older brother and Damien of La Verne senior RJ Smith in Sacramento where his team won a CIF Division I state championship.

Despite the loss that ended things, Smith had an outstanding season after averaging a very consistent 19.1 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.2 steals, 2.2 assists and 2.1 blocks per game.

In one game, a 64-53 victory over Mater Dei in CIF Southern Section Open Division pool play, Smith fought severe leg cramps and had to come out with three minutes left in the third quarter and Etiwanda leading by 21 points. She still led the way with 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

In a late January match-up with Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) and its Connecticut-bound post Isuneh “Ice” Brady, where Etiwanda struggled in the first half of a 59-56 road win in which the Eagles trailed 40-21 at the half, Smith had 16 of her 18 points in the second half and added 10 rebounds. However it was her defense that held Brady to two second half points that was a key to the comeback. Brady finished with 13 points, and that was two more than the 11 points Smith held her to in an earlier 79-34 blowout at the Redondo tournament.

Recent State Sophomores of the Year: 2021 Juju Watkins (Los Angeles Windward); 2020 Isuneh “Ice” Brady (San Diego Cathedral Catholic); 2019 Brooke Demetre (Santa Ana Mater Dei); 2018 Rowan Hein (Fresno Clovis North); 2017 Haley Jones (San Jose Archbishop Mitty); 2016 Aquira DeCosta (Stockton St. Mary’s); 2015 Destiny Littleton (La Jolla Bishop’s); 2014 Sabrina Ionescu (Orinda Miramonte); 2013 Katie Lou Samuelson (Santa Ana Mater Dei); 2012 Jordin Canada (Los Angeles Windward); 2011 Kelsey Plum (La Jolla Country Day); 2010 Aly Beebe (Santa Maria St. Joseph); 2009 Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (Santa Ana Mater Dei).

Angie Robles of La Jolla Bishop’s averaged more than 28 ppg for a team that was in the D2 regional semifinals. Photo: San Diego HS Girls Hoops / YouTube.com.


DIVISION II
Angie Robles (Bishop’s, La Jolla) 5-5 Sr. G

Since D2 state champion Sage Hill had one of the most balanced scoring lineups of any team in the state finals, this selection was not easy. It eventually settled on Robles, one of the leading scorers in the state at 28.6 points per game.

Robles has been a four-year standout for the Knights along with classmate Renee Chong and her own numbers went way up this season. The University of Denver-bound point guard had a season high of 43 points against Tri-City Christian of Vista, but what stood out more is that she also scored against all of the Open Division teams that Bishop’s played. Despite the team not getting close on the scoreboard, Robles had 22 and 26 points vs Mission Hills of San Marcos, 20 and 17 points vs nationally ranked La Jolla Country Day and 30 vs. Cathedral Catholic of San Diego.

In the CIF SoCal D2 playoffs, Robles went for 41 points in a win against Brentwood of Los Angeles in the regional quarterfinals, but in the semifinals when the Knights lost to Santiago of Corona she only made 3 of 14 shots and had 14 points. That one game wasn’t enough to deny her this honor. She also averaged 6.0 rebounds, 3.4 steals and 2.6 assists per game and despite the one game at the end she still shot 42 percent for the season on three-pointers.

Robles already has been named first team All-San Diego Section (only one from a D2 state team) and she gets props for her final career total of 1,695 points.

Bishop’s had the 2017 Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year with Destiny Littleton (also the state’s all-time leading scorer) but Robles is now its only other state player of the year. Kayanna Spriggs of Mater Dei Catholic was last year’s D2 choice, but before that there have only been three from the San Diego Section to ever be named the D2 state player of the year. Two of those three were from Point Loma — Tyeast Brown in 1990 and Terri Mann in 1984 — with the third from Hilltop of Chula Vista — Linda Nielson for 1975. Nielson is shown in the Cal-Hi Sports archives as the first-ever D2 POY.

Recent State D2 Players of the Year: 2021 Kayanna Spriggs (Chula Vista Mater Dei Catholic); 2020 Stephanie Okowi (Oakland Tech); 2019 Jadyn Matthews (Redding Enterprise); 2018 Serena Tuitele (Chico Pleasant Valley); 2017 Julia Blackshell-Fair (Fairfield Vanden); 2016 Kayla Washington (San Bernardino Cajon); 2015 Sydney Raggio (San Francisco St. Ignatius); 2014 Natalie Romeo (Concord Carondelet); 2013 Erica McCall (Bakersfield Ridgeview); 2012 Hannah Huffman (Concord Carondelet); 2011 Ali Gibson (Stockton St. Mary’s); 2010 Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (Santa Ana Mater Dei); 2009 Jonae Ervin (Brea Olinda); 2008 Atonye Nyingfifa (Redondo Beach Redondo Union).

Erin Sellers holds CIF state title trophy while posing with her Oakland Tech teammates. Photo: California Interscholastic Federation.


DIVISION III
Erin Sellers (Oakland Tech, Oakland) 5-7 Jr. G

This scrappy, lead guard epitomizes the toughness of head coach LeRoy Hurt’s program, which won this year’s CIF D3 state title after winning the D4 crown in 2019 and not getting to play for the D2 title in 2020 after winning the NorCal championship.

Sellers was a freshman member of the Bulldogs’ team in 2020 and came off the bench for key minutes and had a season high of 16 points in one game. She emerged as the leader of the 2022 Bulldogs and had 12.4 points, 1.6 assists and 1.4 steals per game for a balanced scoring club.

In Tech’s low-scoring 39-33 win over La Salle of Pasadena for the D3 state title, Sellers was the team’s leading scorer with 11 points and she had a season-high with two blocked shots. She had perhaps her best game in the NorCal final when the Bulldogs had to travel to the city of Lincoln due to being the lower seed and faced a packed gym of locals looking to push their own team to the state final. Sellers led Oakland Tech to a win with 22 points. She also also hit for 23 points in a regional playoff victory against Dixon.

Sellers is the first Oakland Tech player and first Oakland Athletic League player to be the D3 State Player of the Year. The Bulldogs, of course, were in different CIF divisions before, though, and had Stephanie Okowi as the D2 and D4 players of the year in the 2020 and 2019 seasons, respectively. New Tech athletic director Alexis Gray-Lawson wasn’t a player of the year, but when she and teammate Devanei Hampton were McDonald’s All-Americans and first team all-state picks in 2005 the school competed in D1.

Recent State D3 Players of the Year: 2021 D’Arrah Allen (Lawndale Leuzinger); 2020 Natalia Ackerman (Aptos); 2019 Ila Lane (Portola Valley Woodside Priory); 2018 Nia Johnson (Sacramento West Campus); 2017 Haley Van Dyke (Moraga Campolindo); 2016 Sabrina Ionescu (Orinda Miramonte); 2015 Sabrina Ionescu (Orinda Miramonte); 2014 Sabrina Ionescu (Orinda Miramonte); 2013 Oderah Chidom (Oakland Bishop O’Dowd); 2012 Kendall “K.C.” Waters (Oakland Bishop O’Dowd); 2011 Aly Beebe (Santa Maria St. Joseph); 2010 Chelsea Gray (Stockton St. Mary’s); 2009 Chelsea Gray (Stockton St. Mary’s); 2008 Jazmine Jackson (San Francisco Sacred Heart Cathedral); 2007 Vickie Baugh (Sacramento).

Hannah Golan still has a year to go at Branson, but already is past 1,000 career points. Photo: Twitter.com.


DIVISION IV
Hannah Golan (Branson, Ross) 5-10 Jr. F

When a girl is the top player on a CIF divisional state champion it sure can help in that player being named the division’s player of the year.

For Bulls’ junior star Hannah Golan, she meets the criteria and as such has been named the 2022 Division IV Player of the Year after leading Branson to a 24-8 record and the CIF Division IV state championship with a 46-23 victory over Imperial.

In the state title game, Golan nearly outscored Imperial single-handedly after finishing with a very solid double-double 21 points and 15 rebounds with six steals and two assists. Golan had a similar performance in the CIF Northern Regional Division IV championship where she went for a double-double 23 points and 15 rebounds with four steals and three blocked shots in a 51-45 victory over Argonaut of Jackson.

Golan had several other top double-double outings and a triple-double performance as well of note. She went for a triple-double 19 points, 13 rebounds and 10 steals with three blocks in a CIF North Coast Section Division V championship game 52-35 victory over University of San Francisco. Her high-water mark for points was 36 with 10 rebounds and four blocks in a Marin County Athletic League victory against Tamalpais.

In the CIF Northern Regional D4 semifinals, Golan had a huge double-double 34 points and 12 rebounds with five steals and four blocks in a 60-53 win on the road by the No. 3 seed at second-seeded Calaveras of San Andreas.

Two other solid double-double efforts came in MCAL wins against Archie Williams of San Anselmo where Golan had 29 points and 14 rebounds with seven steals, and Terra Linda of San Rafael where she finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds with four steals and three blocked shots.

Overall, and including some lopsided wins where her minutes were limited, the 5-foot-11 wing averaged 19 points and 12 rebounds plus three steals and two blocks per game.

Golan is the second Branson girl to be named a divisional player of the year after Rachel Bilney was named the 2008 Division V Player of the Year.

On a final note, we’re pretty sure Golan would like to give a shout out to senior teammate Jaliyah Wiggins. In 2019, and just after her freshman season, Wiggins’ brother, Kwentyn Wiggins, was killed in a single-car, non-alcohol/drug related auto accident that June. Jaliyah has played on, and this season was a huge factor in the team’s success after averaging 12 points, five rebounds, five steals and four assists per game.

Recent State D4 Players of the Year: 2021 Dami Sule (Bakersfield Christian); 2020 Celeste Lewis (Hanford Sierra Pacific); 2019 Stephanie Okowi (Oakland Tech); 2018 Destiny McAllister (Los Angeles Brentwood); 2017 Kiara Jefferson (Sacramento West Campus); 2016 Minyon Moore (Richmond Salesian); 2015 Kennedy Burke (Chatsworth Sierra Canyon); 2014 Jordin Canada (Los Angeles Windward); 2013 Kelsey Plum (La Jolla Country Day); 2012 Kelsey Plum (La Jolla Country Day); 2011 Imani Stafford (Los Angeles Windward); 2010 Brandi Henton (Modesto Christian); 2009 Gizelle Studevent (La Jolla Bishop’s); 2008 Alex Cowling (Vallejo St. Patrick-St. Vincent).

Summer Jenkins answers questions from the media after San Domenico won CIF D5 state title. Photo: Mark Tennis.


DIVISION V
Summer Jenkins (San Domenico, San Anselmo) 5-6 Soph. G

There were some crazy scoring leaders this year from schools that would be D5, including several well above 30 ppg, but there also are vast differences in competitive levels even at the D5 category. San Domenico was the D5 state champion and plays in the same league as D4 state champion Branson. Since Jenkins was the team’s top overall player, she got the nod for the D5 honor.

San Domenico head coach Mike Fulton had high praise for Jenkins. “She was our best player,” he confirmed. “She was at her best in the biggest moments.”

Although she only had four points in the team’s 38-27 low-scoring victory over Shalhevet of Los Angeles in the D5 state final, Jenkins had the play of the game with a steal and lay-up with 2:11 left. She averaged 13 ppg according to Fulton plus four assists. In her first game of the season, she showed what may be coming by leading the team with 18 points and six steals in a win vs. Sonoma Academy.

Jenkins is just the second player from Marin County to ever be named the D5 state player of the year. The first was Rachel Bilney in 2008 from Branson of Ross. Mike Fulton was the coach at Branson at that time, too.

Last 11 State D5 Players of the Year: 2021 Jazmine Soto (Strathmore); 2020 Jazmine Soto (Strathmore); 2019 Serena Ybarra (Coalinga); 2018 Vanessa Smart (Oxnard Hueneme); 2017 Kayla Tahaafe (E. Palo Alto Eastside College Prep); 2016 Kayla Tahaafe (E. Palo Alto Eastside College Prep); 2015 Destiny Littleton (La Jolla Bishop’s); 2014 Marissa Hing (Los Altos Hills Pinewood); 2013 Kennedy Burke (Chatsworth Sierra Canyon); 2012 Michelle Miller (Pasadena Poly); 2011 Haillie Eackles (Los Altos Hills Pinewood); 2010 Haillie Eackles (Los Altos Hills Pinewood); 2009 Shelly Gupilan (Burbank Bellarmine-Jefferson).

Mark Tennis is the editor and publisher of Cal-Hi Sports. He can be reached at markjtennis@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports


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