SoCal/NorCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s honorees are Donovan Desha from Cantwell Sacred Heart of Montebello and Ayla Rege from Salesian of Richmond. Photos: & Courtesy School.

This is one of those weeks we aim to have for these honors since we have put in the spotlight one player from four different CIF sections. It’s not always possible, but it worked out this time. Our stops are at Montebello and San Diego for Southern California plus Richmond and Sacramento for Northern California.

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Notes: For these honors, we also consider CIF Central Section players for Northern California. To nominate anyone, email

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Boys Basketball Player of the Week

Donovan Desha (Cantwell-Sacred Heart, Montebello) Sr.

We hit the eastern L.A. County community of Montebello for the first stop this week to find our players of the week. Donovan himself is a player who also has been on the move as he was ineligible to start this season after transferring to Cantwell-Sacred Heart from Millikan of Long Beach. He was a second team All-Moore League pick as a junior for the Rams and has been worth the wait.

The last three games for Desha in particular have been impressive. The 6-foot-3 senior who can go inside or outside had 29 points, 11 rebounds and six assists on Jan. 13 in a 64-59 victory against Poly of Sun Valley. Then in his first game of last week, Desha and his Cardinal teammates didn’t get the win in a 89-82 loss to Cabrillo of Long Beach but he shined with 36 points, 13 rebounds and four assists. Donovan then ended the week with 34 points, 11 rebounds and two assists at Cantwell-Sacred Heart topped St. Genevieve of Panorama City, 70-59.

So far in 10 reported games for the Cardinals, Desha has been averaging 23.3 points per game. In one of his earlier games, Donovan had the first reported triple-double in the San Gabriel Valley area with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a win vs Verbum Dei of Los Angeles.

Ivorii Seals from Mira Mesa of San Diego has had a lot to be happy about not just from last week but from the week before. Photo: Mira Mesa HS /

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Girls Basketball Player of the Week

Ivorii Seals (Mira Mesa, San Diego) Jr.

To find the Southern California Girls Player of the Week we head to the CIF San Diego Section and land in the city of San Diego proper about halfway between Highway 52 to the south and Highway 56 to the north, and just west of the I-5 as where we locate our honoree.

It’s at Mira Mesa where we find a 5-foot-10 junior combo guard who not only had a big hand in helping the Marauders to 12-9 overall and 5-0 in Eastern League play, but also achieved a personal milestone.

Two weeks ago, Seals went for 19 points in a 42-31 victory over San Diego University City and in doing so she went over the 1,000 career point mark. We don’t usually pick a player off a 19-point performance so we waited a week after what she did last week and in three wins it sealed this week’s honors for Seals.

In her first game last week, Seals went for 30 points and eight rebounds with three steals and Mira Mesa need every bit of it to pull out a 49-47 victory over Eastlake of Chula Vista. She followed that up with 24 points, six rebounds and four steals in a 64-24 win at San Diego Lincoln, and finally Seals ended the week with another 24-point performance plus four rebounds, seven steals, four assists and two blocks in a 50-39 victory on the road at crosstown Patrick Henry.

With 78 points in the three games last week, Seals now has 1,083 career points heading into a match-up with San Diego High on Friday in league. She’s averaging 19.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.3 steals, 2.3 assists and 1.9 blocks per game.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Girls Basketball Player of the Week

Ayla Rege (Salesian, Richmond) Sr.

The search for the Northern California Girls Player of the Week takes us to West Contra Costa County and its in Richmond just west Interstate 80 that we find out award winner.

Despite being 5-0 and dominating the Tri-County Athletic–Rock Division like the Pride has done for quite some time, it’s been a bit of a rough ride for a Salesian team that was the CIF Division I state champions in the 2021-22 season. There have been some bright spots, however, and Rege is one of them, not just on the basketball court but in the classroom as well, and last week was a perfect example for the 5-foot-7 senior.

Salesian was matched up with Redwood of Larkspur at the Sabrina Ionescu SI20 Showcase last Saturday in Concord at Carondelet and the four-year varsity player picked the perfect time to have a career-best performance.

Twice earlier Rege went for over 20 points in her career, both this season, with 26 points (eight three-pointers) against Marin Catholic (Kentfield) and 28 points, also with eight three-pointers, against Oregon West Linn, but both of those performances came in losses.

Last Saturday Rege, whose name is pronounced like “reggae” music, had the Pride faithful doing dancing to reggae music after Rege dropped in a career-high 34 points with five three-pointers in a 65-45 win over Redwood. With that performance, Rege also took over the team scoring top spot with a 12.9 points per game average. Ayla has also connected on 54 three-pointers for the 11-8 Pride heading into a Tuesday league match-up on the road at neighboring Pinole Valley of Pinole.

We mentioned that Rege also gets it done in the classroom, and indeed she does, carrying a 4.5 GPA. According head coach and 2022 State Coach of the Year Stephen Pezzola, Ayla has her sights set on a potential career as a medical doctor and is looking to continue her educational career at an Ivy League or possibly at UCLA or UC Berkeley where she has applied.

Zach Villanueva of Sacramento West Campus has team success also attached to the scoring he has been doing in recent weeks. Photo:

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Boys Basketball Player of the Week

Zach Villanueva
(West Campus, Sacramento) Soph.

For our final stop we head to the southeast portion of the Sacramento Unified School District not far from Sacramento State University south of the Highway 50 corridor and across the street from sister school Hiram Johnson High.

West Campus is more known for its girls hoops program, which has had two CIF state divisional championship teams, plus a number of high-scoring players. This time, we’re honoring a young sophomore point guard for the boys team who had led the Warriors to a 5-0 league record and a 14-4 overall mark entering this week.

Villanueva had a spectacular week and upped his season scoring average to 23.1 ppg. He had 39 points, eight rebounds and four steals in a tight 66-64 triumph against Foothill of Sacramento. He also had 28 points and four steals to lead West Campus past Natomas of Sacramento, 56-51.

The season so far also hasn’t been a surprise to West Campus’ coaches. Zach averaged 15 ppg as a freshman starter. He’s also showing an assist average this season of almost 6.0. Don’t let his baby-faced looks fool you. Villanueva can play.

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

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