Girls of Summer: End of Trail Visit

Amanda Muse (left) of Brentwood Heritage and CalStars plus the San Jose Archbishop Mitty trio of Haley Hernandez, Elle Hanson and Maya Hernandez (all of the San Jose Cagers) were among the standouts at the final End of the Trail event several weeks ago in Roseville. Muse recently committed to UCLA. Photos: @CalStars / Twitter.com & Harold Abend.


The Girls of Summer Caravan was able to visit two events this past summer in a continuing process to update readers about California’s leading girls basketball players. This story is part one and focuses on the EOT (End of the Trail) Ultimate Challenge in Roseville during the NCAA Viewing Period in July. The second story for part two will focus on the 16th annual Myles McGowan Coaches Classic/Fresh Faces in Oakland.

We hope you enjoy this free story on Cal-Hi Sports.com. Part two about some of the best incoming ninth graders in the state will be for our Gold Club members only. For state rankings packages in girls basketball in 2022-23 plus state record updates and special features, please check out our Gold Club membership today. If you’re not a member, CLICK HERE.

The girls’ basketball NCAA viewing period for certified events during the certified dates this year took place in July. What that means is the 95 non-scholastic events held nationwide that were NCAA-certified allowed the attendance of NCAA Division I basketball coaches to observe, but make no contact with prospective student-athletes at those events and during the certified dates.

The July viewing period is composed of the first half of the month from July 5-12 and then after a “dark period,” resumes on July 21 with a July 25 conclusion. Of the 95 events nationwide, eight were in California with only two in Northern California. The West Coast Clash during the first portion of the viewing period from July 6-9 and the EOT Ultimate Challenge from July 21-23 during the second half of the period were both held at the 12-court Roebbelen Center in Roseville.

We missed the West Coast Clash but were on hand for the final two days of the Ultimate Challenge and saw some solid talent from both Northern and Southern California. There were 115 teams competing with 61 in Division 1 which was the group we observed. The four teams observed went a combined 18-0 and dominated the division.

Cal Stars & San Jose Cagers

The Cal Stars 17 EYBL (Nike Elite Youth Basketball League) went 4-0 despite being without three of their top players, Arizona-committed 5-Star senior 6-4 post Breya Cunningham of La Jolla Country Day, UCLA-committed 5-Star senior point guard Jada Williams of La Jolla Country Day, and 4-Star junior 6-2 wing Morgan Cheli of Archbishop Mitty-San Jose. All three were coming off commitments to USA Basketball and chose not to participate at the Ultimate Challenge.

That meant other rising Cal Stars 17 EYBL players got an opportunity to shine and several did.

The San Jose Cagers Blue were at full strength with mostly players from Archbishop Mitty and went 5-0 at the Ultimate Challenge. The other two Cal Stars teams in Division 1, Cal Stars 17 Elite and Cal Stars 16 EYBL went 4-0 and 5-0, respectively.

Seated CalStars head coach Kelly Sopak instructs his players at the EOT Ultimate Challenge in Roseville. Steve Pezzola (left) and Craig Campbell join in the huddle. Sopak (Concord Carondelet), Pezzola (Richmond Salesian) & Campbell (Clovis West) are three of the top high school girls coaches in the nation. Photo: @CalStars / Twitter.com.


As for the Cal Stars, not only do they have a number of the top players from Northern and Southern California, they have some top talent from Oregon as well. On top of that, they have some of the best coaching in the state on the bench starting with head coach Kelly Sopak, who has won multiple national championships with the Stars EYBL teams the last several years, and had success at Miramonte (Orinda) before some newfound success the last two seasons at Carondelet of Concord. Two of his assistants have won CIF state championships as head coaches as well — Craig Campbell of Clovis West (Fresno) and Stephen Pezzola of Salesian of Richmond, who guided the Pride to the 2022 Division I title.

Guiding the San Jose Cagers Blue is Sue Phillips of Archbishop Mitty. Phillips just completed her second stint as a USA Basketball head coach and has six CIF state championships on her resume to go with being tied for No. 3 all time in California with 761 victories according to the Cal-Hi Sports Online Record Book.

Enough about the players that weren’t there and the coaches. What about the girls we observed in Roseville and how they played?

Over two days we saw Cal Stars 17 EYBL, comprised of all incoming seniors, play three games. The top performers from California were UCLA-committed 6-5 Heritage (Brentwood) post Amanda Muse, Antelope 6-3 forward Mary Carter, Valley View (Moreno Valley) 6-0 point guard Ari Long, Piedmont 6-0 point guard Trinity Zamora, Salesian 5-6 point guard Sofia Fidelus, and Marin Catholic (Kentfield) 5-11 guard Gracyn Lovette.

Two of the three games observed went to a running clock. The one game that was close was a 64-50 victory over a Sagebrush Black 17U from Pasco, Washington that finished with a 4-1 record.

Carter showed her range against Sagebrush with four long three-pointers and finished with 14 points. Long nailed two treys and finished with nine points and three assists, Muse had eight points and six rebounds with two blocks, Mahogany Chandler-Roberts (from Oregon) had eight points and six rebounds, Donovyn Hunter (from Oregon) had seven points (one three-pointer), nine rebounds and two steals.

The game observed that produced the biggest numbers came in a 76-38 victory over SoCal Blaze team based in Orange County. Muse had her way in the paint and finished with 14 points, six rebounds, four blacks and two assists. Hunter had 11 points with one three-pointer, Sofia Bell (Oregon) lit it up with 10 points on three three-pointers, with seven assists and two steals, Chandler-Roberts had eight points, six rebounds and three steals, Ella Wedin (Oregon) hit two three-pointers and finished with eight points, Long had seven points on one three-pointer with four rebounds, two assists and two steals, Zamora hit a three-pointer and had five points, three rebounds and three assists, Long also had a three-pointer and five points with three assists, Carter had a three-pointer with nine rebounds and three assists, Fidelus had a three-pointer with three assists, and three rebounds, and Lovette only scored one basket but showed great hustle to finish with seven rebounds, four steals and two assists.

Malia Ulery, an incoming senior from Yucca Valley, led SoCal Blaze with 11 points (one three-pointer), three rebounds and three steals, Lakewood incoming junior Cristina Jones added 10 points and seven rebounds.

With all the top stars from Archbishop Mitty other than Cheli playing for Phillips on the San Jose Cagers, the way the Cagers looked in the one game observed only solidified the fact that Mitty is undeniably the top team to start the season in Northern California.

Ari Long averaged more than 31 ppg last season at Valley View of Moreno Valley. Photo: @CalStars / Twitter.com.


The most impressive of the Cagers was incoming Mitty senior 6-1 power forward Maya Hernandez. She was like a woman among girls in the paint in a 67-29 thrashing of a decent Sports Academy Swish 17U LA National team based in Thousand Oaks. Hernandez finished with 15 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks, two assists and two steals.

Elle Hanson showed she can connect from long distance during the entire Ultimate Challenge. According to Philips, the 6-2 incoming senior sharpshooter had 11 and 10 three-pointers in two previous games in Roseville, and in the win over Swish she made two three-pointers and finished with 12 points and two steals. Incoming Mitty senior and 6-0 power forward Layla Woods showed some game and finished with nine points, six steals and four rebounds. Maya’s twin sister, 6-0 Mitty senior wing Haley Hernandez, looks improved as well. She had five points, five rebounds, five steals and three assists.

Of the non-Mitty Cagers the player that shined the brightest was Belle Bramer of Los Gatos. The non-Mitty Cagers that made an impression were North Salinas incoming senior point guard Daeja Hollands, and 6-0 Homestead (Sunnyvale) incoming senior forward Tatum Leuenberger.

For Swish, the leading scorer was 6-0 incoming Rosary-Fullerton senior center Ava Dominguez. She had nine points and six rebounds with two assists. Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood) incoming senior guard Jordyn Call made two three-pointers and finished with eight points.

In the one game observed for the Cal Stars 17 Elite, they survived an incredible effort from 13-year old incoming freshman Jerzy Robinson from Phoenix, Arizona to post a 52-49 victory over Sports Academy Swish 17U EYBL. The 5-11 Robinson, who plays mostly down low, and reminds us of WNBA star Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis when she was an incoming freshman at Mater Dei (Santa Ana) finished with 19 rebounds and nine points with four assists. She still is developing an outside shot but did make a three-pointer, was fouled, and converted a four-point play. Jerzy Robinson is definitely a name to remember.

“I like her last name and her game,” said a grinning 1995 Cal-Hi Sports Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year Renee Robinson, who starred at Sacred Heart Prep, was the coordinator for the officials at the Ultimate Challenge and personally officiated the game.

Jamie Kent, an incoming 6-0 senior forward at Carondelet, had an exceptional performance, and looks like she will be the top player on the defending CIF Northern Regional Open Division runners-up. Against Swish 17U EYBL, Kent drained two three-pointers en route to finishing with 14 points and eight rebounds. Incoming 5-10 Carondelet senior guard Allie Cummins, who had to sit out her entire junior year after transferring, showed her shooting prowess and her five made three-pointers led the Stars with 15 points.

Geriah Bradley, an incoming senior point guard from San Leandro, impressed the college coaches and finished with nine points, seven assists and six rebounds, plus she played solid defense.

Addison Deal played as a freshman at Pacifica Christian of Newport Beach and will be at Mater Dei (Santa Ana) this upcoming season. Photo: @PCHS_Tritons / Twitter.com.


More Players Who Impressed
From NorCal & SoCal

Another player who performed well and shows significant improvement is Eva Levingston. She transferred from St. Joseph Notre Dame and the 6-0 forward looks like she will be a big part of the Piedmont program this season. Incoming senior guard Devin Miller of Clovis also showed some range from outside the arc.

The top performing California player on Swish 17U EYBL was La Jolla Country Day incoming senior point guard Sumayah Sugapong. She converted four three-pointers and had a game high 21 points, plus five rebounds and two blocks.

A player who looked like everything that scouts have said about her was Addison Deal. The incoming Mater Dei-Santa Ana sophomore who transferred from Pacifica Christian of Newport Beach had 12 points (two three-pointers), five steals, three assists and two rebounds. Maranatha Christian-San Diego incoming junior 6-3 center Mary Stout added six points and nine rebounds.

One of the more entertaining games was a 57-48 victory by the Cal Stars 16 EYBL over Team Stuck out of Kirkland, Washington. The two Stars 16 EYBL players that really stood out were the backcourt duo of
incoming juniors Athena Tomlinson and Natalia Martinez. The flashy Tomlinson, a point guard from Clovis West of Fresno, had 10 points including two three-pointers, seven assists and five steals. Martinez, a combo guard from Piedmont, played aggressive defense and finished with 10 points, three assists and three steals.

A fresh face to look for and a name to remember is Evelini Smith of Stars 16 EYBL. The incoming 6-2 Antelope freshman had seven rebounds. Other Stars 16 EYBL players that made an impression were incoming San Ramon Valley junior point guard Sierra Chambers, incoming Carondelet junior point guard Keshia Denhiz Vitalicio, incoming Sequoia (Redwood City) 6-1 sophomore wing Nohe’alani Stores, incoming Salesian (Richmond) junior point guard Madalyn Kanazawa, and incoming University (San Francisco) junior 6-1 wing Gabriella Kelley.

We only saw her for around five minutes of action but it was convincing enough to validate Swish 16U EYBL and St. Joseph (Santa Maria) incoming 6-0 junior point guard Avery Cain as one of the top players in her class in the state.

A girl we didn’t get to observe but wish we had is incoming Mitty 6-1 freshman two-sport star McKenna Woliczko. We saw her in action at the NorCal Sports TV All NorCal Games in April where she was without a doubt the top incoming freshman in Northern California. Woliczko, who is reportedly close to being able to dunk, is also a top-notch softball player and will play both sports for the Monarchs. Over the summer, she split her time between club basketball and softball travel ball but she did not play at the Ultimate Challenge. According to reliable sources, Woliczko is better than she was in the spring, and that’s scary.

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


Enjoy this article?

Find out how you can get access to more exclusive content, one-of-a-kind California high school sports content!

Learn More

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*

    Latest News

    Insider Blog

    Cal-Hi Sports on Twitter

    Cal-Hi Sports on Facebook