There were 96 varsity and seven junior varsity teams on hand competing at the 12-court Roebbelen Center in Roseville on June 15-17 for the Girls California Live 23 NCAA Sanctioned Scholastic Viewing event. Here’s how it all came together, a look at one key game won by CIF NorCal Open Division champion Archbishop Mitty and a preview of two additional stories we’ll have generated from the event.
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An estimated 75 college coaches ranging from Pac-12 schools and other major conferences from throughout the nation to mid-majors and even junior college coaches saw some of California’s top girls basketball talent, plus some top teams from Oregon and Washington, in action last week at the Girls California Live 23 viewing event in Roseville.
What that meant was there were no losers at the first-ever NCAA Sanctioned Viewing Event for girls in California, held at the spacious Roebbelen Center in Roseville, because girls at all levels got looks from college coaches. Of course the major D1 schools were huddled around the top teams like Archbishop Mitty of San Jose, looking to make offers or “sitting” on girls already offered.
The event was awarded to the Bay Area Basketball Coaches Association (BABCA) by the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), the governing body of high school sports in the state.
Although the NCAA established these events for boys in 2019, California did not participate until this year when the NCAA offered an event for girls.
“We were not going to pursue getting June scholastic viewing period events certified until the NCAA allowed them for boys and girls,” said CIF Executive Director Ron Nocetti.
Because it was the first year for girls, only 14 events were held nationwide while there were 43 for boys.
Unlike club basketball events, the participating teams played for their high school and only students enrolled at the school could play. This included incoming freshmen, and also transfers whether they would later be declared eligible or not provided they were enrolled at the school.
There were four divisions, Open, Roseville, BABCA, BallerTV, plus a JV division.
Because this was an NCAA viewing event for Division I college coaches, plus lower level college coaches as well, the tournament directors decided to do it in a showcase format that gave college coaches a set schedule of games making it easier to scout and analyze players. Plus the three courts used for the Open Division, consisting of the top teams in the tournament, were configured so that college coaches could watch two games at once.
After reviewing the Mission Statement of the NCAA in regards to the scholastic viewing events, which stated that part of the reason they were adding scholastic viewing events in addition to the longstanding July viewing period for club teams, was to get high school coaches involved. Because of that, the tournament directors sought to engage some of the state’s top coaches to be on a Coaches Advisory Board that consisted of 12 coaches, including some of the all-time wins leading coaches like Sue Phillips of Mitty and Terri Bamford of La Jolla Country Day.
What some of the Advisory Board coaches had to say was pretty indicative of the feedback from just about all the coaches that participated.
“The Girls Cali Live 23 event was terrific,” Phillips said. “Our entire coaching staff felt that playing in an NCAA certified scholastic event with our high school team was a huge success on many levels. It was very organized, great competition, and well attended by college coaches for scouting purposes.
“I choose to support Girls Cali Live 23 by bringing both our Varsity and JV teams and also serving on the Advisory Board,” Phillips continued. “I feel strongly that this was a top-notch event, a way to grow the game in our great state, and to reduce the travel costs for our coaches, players, and families.”
“Girls Cali Live 23 was amazing. I want to thank everyone that put it on. You deserve a big pat on the back,” said Advisory Board member Christopher Kroesch of San Marcos Mission Hills. “Count us in every year. You don’t even have to ask, we’re in.”
It wasn’t just the coaches of state-ranked teams that felt their girls benefitted from the event. Dave Caetano brought his Mission Oak team up from Tulare along with a slew of parents and even grandparents.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the entire girlscalilive crew for putting on a great tournament,” wrote Caetano by email. “My team had a great time and played five very competitive games.”
Despite not playing on Thursday and Friday and rooting her team to three victories from the bench, to no one’s surprise the star of the show was Connecticut-committed incoming senior Morgan Cheli of Archbishop Mitty.
Cheli took the floor in the first of two Monarchs’ games on Saturday against Oregon power Benson Polytechnic of Portland, a team with several D1 level players, including 6-foot-2 Mahogany Chandler-Roberts, an incoming senior with solid interest from Cal, Washington State and Arizona State, and additional interest from several other schools, including Louisville, Oregon and Stanford, among others.
Mitty bolted out to a 29-14 lead behind three three-pointers by 6-foot-2 incoming senior guard Elana Weisman but a 9-2 run keyed by Chandler-Roberts and sharpshooting incoming senior guard Mauriana Hashemian-Orr cut it to 31-23 after the first of two 16-minute halves
Mitty came out strong in the second half and built a 44-30 lead but the Oregon girls cut it to 45-40. Still, that was the closest they would get as Cheli took over down the stretch in an eventual 70-54 victory.
Cheli had 15 of her team-high 22 points in the second half, and also added five rebounds, five steals and four assists. Weisman, who had 17 points in the first half, finished with 21 points, five rebounds and two assists.
Weisman recently got her first offer from Santa Clara, but after her performance at Girls California Live 23 she added offers from San Francisco, UC San Diego, Nevada Reno, and UC Riverside, plus according to Phillips several other colleges that were on hand in Roseville indicated they plan on making offers.
Belle Bramer, an 6-foot-2 incoming senior forward at Archbishop Mitty, only got to play 14 games her freshman season at Los Gatos, led the Wildcats in scoring her sophomore season, and then decided to transfer to Mitty. She played on the San Jose Cagers also coached by Phillips and made a big enough impression to warrant a mention in the Girls of Summer feature last year.
Bramer was forced to sit out her junior season but the layoff hasn’t seemed to slow her down. In May, she got her first offer from Portland based on her performances with the Cal Stars. At the Girls California Live 23 she was like a rebounding machine despite competing with Chandler-Roberts on the glass. Bramer finished with a double-double 11 points and 12 rebounds, with nine of the rebounds coming in the first half and nine of the points in the second half. Not surprisingly she picked up two more offers at Cali Live, San Francisco and Cal Baptist, and according to Phillips a lot more schools are ready to offer and likely will during the July NCAA Viewing Period
Incoming junior guard Jordan Bowar only had two points against Benson, but her defense and ball-handling skills were outstanding and she also had six assists. Bowar came into Cali Live with no offers but left with one from San Jose State.
The smothering defense of Mitty eventually wore down Benson, but Hashemian-Orr led all scorers with 26 points including six three-pointers, and Chandler-Roberts had a double-double 25 and 10 rebounds. After Cali Live, Chandler-Roberts now has strong interest from Oregon, and Hashemian-Orr picked up offers from Portland, Seattle and San Jose State.
There were other stars that shined at Cali Live like local standouts and All State Underclass First Team selections Kamryn Mafua, a Cal-committed incoming senior from Folsom, and incoming junior Nina Cain of Sacramento McClatchy, and each of them will be highlighted in the second part of the Girls California Live 23 feature that will have evaluations.
A girl who will be getting a separate feature from us and that had heads swiveling at Cali Live was Brazilian transplant Taissa Queiroz. The 6-foot-2 guard who grew up playing with boys in Belo Horizonte, is enrolled at and playing for Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa. At one game there were around 40 college coaches watching this new found phenom. According to Newman head coach Monica Mertle at Cali Live, Tiassa picked up offers from Cal, new Pac-12 member San Diego State, San Diego, UC Irvine, St. Mary’s, Idaho, and San Jose State, plus Oregon State, Washington and Stanford have reached out. The separate feature will come out after “Tissa” as the Newman community calls her, returns from playing for the Brazilian U19 National Team at the World Cup.
At the other end of the spectrum is Pyramid Lake from Nixon, Nevada. All the girls and coaches are First Nation and this was the first time they have played in an event like this or seen this level of competition first hand. After their game, they watched wide-eyed as Mitty performed for the college coaches.
In order to make the trip, Pyramid Lake squad didn’t play on Thursday and commuted a 350-mile round trip over the Donner Pass on Friday and Saturday and won three of their four games before fatigue kind of set in and they gave up a lead and lost their last game to Justin-Siena of Napa.
“What an event and what a tremendous opportunity for our girls to see all the colleges and top talent,” said Pyramid Lake head coach Raymond Charles. “The Pyramid Lake Lady Lakers are thankful and honored to be part of such a great event.”
Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend