More Girls BB Players of the Year

State Sophomore of Year McKenna Woliczko of Archbishop Mitty (left) shows off MVP honor from top division of the Nike TOC in Arizona. At right, D4 State Player of Year Laila Florvilus dribbles near sideline during CIF state finals. Photos: Courtesy family & Willie Eashman.

Puff Morris & McKenna Woliczko are repeat winners at the top of their junior and sophomore classes while high-scoring phenom Kaleena Smith of Ontario Christian had to be on top among freshmen. Two of this year’s CIF divisional honorees are from the state title teams, but two were from regional championship runner-up squads.

For official writeup on the 2024 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. Writeup on juniors by associate editor Harold Abend. Stay tuned for the upcoming release of the 45th annual Cal-Hi Sports All-State Teams. Here is a complete list of all of our girls basketball individual players of the year for the 2024 season:

Kennedy Smith (Etiwanda) Sr.

The annual Ms. Basketball honoree is usually a senior and from a team in the CIF Open Division/D1 playoffs and that was the again with Kennedy Smith for this season. We have combined the Open Division and D1 for post season honors, but choose many more players from those teams than the other divisions for all-state to make up for the competitive equity difference. “Kennedy never cared about her individual accolades but only team accomplishments that helped make all our dreams come true,” said head coach Stan Delus. “Number 11 will forever be in the rafters at Etiwanda.” Kennedy’s older brother, R.J., was an all-state player two years ago at Damien (La Verne) and was on the roster at Colorado for the 2023-24 season.

Aliyahna “Puff” Morris (Etiwanda) 5-6 PG

To go back to 1984 when Cal-Hi Sports started naming a State Freshman of the Year, and 1975 when sophomores were first honored, and 1973 for juniors, and to research how many players have won the first three would be a bit much.

However, one thing is for certain, with Morris being crowned as the 2024 Cal-Hi Sports State Junior of the Year, Morris has joined a small group.

Aliyanah “Puff” Morris won in a close call for player of the year as a freshman and has simply gotten better and better in each year since. Photo: Courtesy Etiwanda girls basketball.

This also marks the third straight year Etiwanda has snagged two class awards as Morris joins 2024 Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year Kennedy Smith, who was also the sophomore and junior honoree when Puff was winning State Freshman and State Sophomore of the Year honors.

“Wow. I am so honored and appreciative of Cal Hi Sports for recognizing me as an all around player and to be recognized as the California freshman, sophomore and now junior of the year,” Morris said when told she was a three-peat winner. “I feel so blessed and I’m so thankful that God has provided me with these opportunities. I owe all the praise and glory to him.”

After winning the State Sophomore of the Year award when she helped Smith in leading Etiwanda to its first CIF Open Division state championship in 2023, Morris came into this season as the front-runner for juniors.

To start the season, Mater Dei junior Addie Deal, a close runner-up to Morris last year for sophomore honors, was considered a legitimate candidate for juniors. Deal’s junior campaign, however, came to an end early with a season-ending injury.

As the season progressed, Arizona transplant and fellow Etiwanda junior Grace Knox was given some serious consideration with a slightly better per game scoring average than Morris, and she’d be one of this year’s runner ups. However, Morris, the Eagles’ floor general and the ESPN No. 5 rated point guard in the nation with offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Duke, USC and Yale, plus several others, was the choice in the end after solidifying things with her performance in the 60-48 CIF Open Division state championship victory over Archbishop Mitty of San Jose where she took control from the opening tip-off and showed why she is the top true point guard in the state after finishing with a game-high 20 points (two-three-pointers), plus six rebounds, five assists and three steals.

This past season, Morris had per game averages of 16.1 points, 5.4 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists per games, similar to the 17.3 points, 4.7 assists, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.6 steals per game she averaged in winning State Sophomore of the Year.

It all started at the 2021 Nike TOC when Puff caught the eye of Cal-Hi Sports correspondent Erik Boal when he wrote that she “demonstrated maturity beyond her years to become the only freshman to earn all-tournament recognition in the top two divisions.”

Now, all that’s left is a potential three-peat as CIF Open champions for Etiwanda and the possibility that Morris can join Smith and seven others as a winner of all the class awards and Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year.

Puff will certainly be a front-runner for that honor next season, but for now Morris, her family and the Etiwanda community, can bask in the glory of her being named the Cal-Hi Sports State Junior of the Year.

Recent State Juniors of the Year: 2023 Kennedy Smith (Etiwanda); 2022 Juju Watkins (Corona Centennial); 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).

McKenna Woliczko (Archbishop Mitty, San Jose) 6-2 C

Since McKenna enjoyed a sophomore season very similar and maybe a touch better than her freshman season when she was the State Freshman Player of the Year, it may seem that her selection for this year’s top 2026 honor in the state was a slam dunk.

Woliczko was given flowers and a souvenir ball after she reached 1,000 career points. She still has two years of high school to go. Photo: Courtesy family.

It was not, especially for most of the season as Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth was being led by sophomore Jerzy Robinson, who was not in California as a freshman and was a transfer to the Trailblazers from Arizona. Robinson had some big games for Sierra Canyon and has been higher than Woliczko in national recruiting rankings.

By the end of the season, however, with everything taken into consideration, it still had to be McKenna at the top of the sophomore heap. One of the highlights of her season was being named MVP of the Vincent Cannizzaro Division (top division) at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona, which is where Mitty handed Long Island Lutheran of New York one of its only two losses of the season. Woliczko had 22 points and nine rebounds in that game, which ironically was close to season averages of 22.1 points and 7.8 rebounds. Long Island Lutheran had been No. 1 in some national rankings before losing to Montverde Academy of Florida last week in the Chipotle Nationals.

Robinson probably wouldn’t have been Sierra Canyon’s No. 1 Ms. Basketball candidate at the end of the season anyway in favor of four-year standout Mackenly Randolph. A senior at Mitty headed to UConn, Morgan Cheli, also was perhaps in line to be its top player of the year candidate at the end as well, but for the second straight season Morgan had injury issues, this time with a hamstring that knocked her out of action for the final weeks of the regular season and into the playoffs. Cheli played in the team’s CIF Open Division state final loss to Etiwanda, but obviously was not normal.

Like last year, Woliczko picked up the slack for the Monarchs. In addition to her scoring and rebounding, she also had career highs during the season in blocked shots (five twice), steals (six twice) and assists (six in the state finals vs Etiwanda). She also shot 64.2 percent from the field and 76.5 percent from the free throw stripe. Woliczko averaged 25.6 ppg later in the season in games when Cheli was out and in the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division final vs St. Ignatius of San Francisco she 30 points, nine rebounds and five blocks.

Since the state sophomore honor goes back to 1975, there have only been three winners from the CCS, including McKenna. The last was Mitty’s Haley Jones in 2017. The only other one was Kristin Clark from Monta Vista of Cupertino for 1993.

Prior to being State Sophomore of the Year, McKenna has repeated as the Bay Area Player of the Year according to both the San Francisco Chronicle and Bay Area News Group. Basketball has become her No. 1 priority, but she is still playing on the Mitty softball team and is one of the top shortstops in Northern California. She was our 2022-23 State Freshman Athlete of the Year.

Recent State Sophomores of the Year: 2023 Aliyanah “Puff” Morris (Etiwanda); 2022 Kennedy Smith (Etiwanda); 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).

Kaleena Smith (Ontario Christian) 5-6 G

Ontario Christian has had a freshman lead the state in scoring just four seasons ago, but this time with Kaleena Smith it was different. Kaleena has been described as a generational talent for the Class of 2027 nationally and she had performances against the best competition around that showed it.

Freshman Kaleena Smith dazzled as a scorer and playmaker for Ontario Christian throughout the season. Photo: Harold Abend.

Smith was a heralded incoming freshman for the Knights and while she did not break the state freshman scoring record set in 2020 by Chloe Briggs of Ontario Christian of 1,216 points she did lead the state with 1,153 points and averaged 34.9 ppg. Note: the girl listed first in scoring average for the state on MaxPreps is listed with stats that make no sense and no one even in San Diego accepts them. On the single-season all-time season scoring list, Briggs is still third and Smith has now moved up to 10th.

In addition to her scoring, Smith can see the floor very well and has no issues dishing it out for teammates’ with open shots. She also averaged 6.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 4.2 steals per game.

Some of Kaleena’s top outings included 62 pts vs Linfield Christian, 55 pts vs Woodcrest Christian, 35 pts and 8 assists in a loss to Sierra Canyon, 34 pts in a loss to Etiwanda, 33 pots and 7 assists in a win over Sage Hill, 28 pts in a loss to Sage Hill, 35 pts and 10 assists in a win vs Corona Centennial, 33 pts vs Moreno Valley and 28 pts vs Brentwood of Los Angeles.

In the season when Briggs (now at Washington) was a freshman, La Jolla Country Day’s Breya Cunningham was State Freshman of the Year. The Inland Empire where Smith played this season has had numerous honorees in the category, including the two recent winners in 2021 and 2022 from Etiwanda. All-time great Diana Taurasi was the winner in 1997 from Don Lugo of Chino. We hadn’t yet started picking a freshman player of the year when Cheryl Miller was that young in 1979 at Riverside Poly.

Recent State Freshmen of the Year: 2023 McKenna Woliczko (Archbishop Mitty, San Jose); 2022 Aliyahna “Puff” Morris (Etiwanda); 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).

A.J. Gambol had 31 points for Pleasant Valley of Chico in its section title game win and in regional finals’ loss. Photo: Pleasant Valley girls basketball /

A.J. Gambol (Pleasant Valley, Chico) 5-9 Jr. PG

The CIF Northern Section surprisingly has found a sweet spot for D2 state player of the year and here is another one who has gotten the nod for this season. It doesn’t seem like a gamble to pick Gambol, either.

The Vikings did not win the CIF D2 state title, but they reached the D2 Northern California final and in that game A.J. rained down 31 points in a 52-48 loss to Colfax. It was what she did in the regional semifinals, however, that will go down in the history books. Facing an Oakland Tech team that was looking to win a fourth straight CIF state title, Gambol hit an improbable 18-foot jumper with plenty of hands in her face at the buzzer that knocked off the Bulldogs, 64-62. She also ended with 29 points.

For the season, A.J. averaged 19.6 points plus 4.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists in leading Pleasant Valley to its fourth straight CIF Northern Section title. She also had 31 points in the section championship game.

Gambol is the third D2 state player of the year from the Northern Section since 2018. The other two are Jadyn Matthews from Enterprise of Redding for 2019 and Serena Tuitele of Pleasant Valley for 2018. A.J. already has surpassed Tuitele as Pleasant Valley’s all-time career scoring leader with one year left to play.

Recent State D2 Players of the Year: 2023 Talia Maxwell (Central, Fresno); 2022 Angie Robles (La Jolla Bishop’s); 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).

Gabriella Kelley (University, San Francisco) 6-2 Sr. F

This was without doubt the hardest among any of the state player of the year selections to determine a winner. It could have been a co-player situation, but that’s something that’s never been done in all of the more than 40 years of Cal-Hi Sports state honors or state rankings.

Gabriella Kelley from University of San Francisco was one of the best inside-outside players in Northern California, meaning she could block shots and make three-pointers. Photo:

Kelley was the leading player for a University team that was the top seed for the NorCal D3 playoffs and only lost in the regional finals by 58-55 to eventual CIF state champion Caruthers. In that game, she had 18 points and eight blocked shots. And while Gabby was an inside player who could block shots, she also could step outside and sink three-pointers.

For the season, Kelley led the Red Devils with 17 points per game. She also had averages of seven rebounds and two blocks. Her season high was 27 points, six rebounds and four blocks in a win vs Justin-Siena of Napa. Gabby’s shooting percentages were impressive as well, including 56 percent overall from the field, 38 percent on threes and 77 percent from the line. In one camp/clinic from last summer that can be watched on YouTube, she is shown making 30 threes in a row.

Another factor for Kelley’s selection is that she was the only player from a team in the Bay Area designated as D3 who was on the first, second or third team in the San Francisco Chronicle’s All-Metro team honors.

Kelley is the first D3 state player of the year from the CIF North Coast Section since Haley Van Dyke of Campolindo for 2017. The NCS girl who got it for the three years before that — Sabrina Ionescu of Orinda Miramonte — has shall we say become pretty well known in women’s basketball.

There were several D1 offers reported for Gabby, including one from nearby USF plus Nevada, but she is taking her academic and athletic talents to the University of Pennsylvania in the Ivy League. And here’s another twist in looking up info about her: Kelley is a cousin of Tennessee Titans’ quarterback Will Levis. Her collecting this statewide honor isn’t close to what her cousin was going through a year ago with the NFL Draft, but it’s not bad.

Recent State D3 Players of the Year: 2023 Morgan Triguiero (Caruthers); 2022 Erin Sellers (Oakland Tech); 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).

Laila Florvilus (St. Bernard’s, Eureka) 5-9 Jr. G

One of the great player nicknames in CIF North Coast Section history on the boys side has been Marvelous Marvin Deloatch of Novato 1977. The St. Bernard’s girls this season had someone we’ll call Marvelous Florvilus in its run to the CIF D4 state championship.

Laila was the team’s leading scorer all season and had a team-high 18 points to go with 14 rebounds in the 47-29 victory over Grossmont of San Diego in the state final last month in Sacramento. She also had 27 points in the NorCal regional finals when the Crusaders topped Arcata, 60-54.

For the season, Florvilus averaged 19.3 ppg and went past the 1,000-point milestone with one year still to go as a high school player. She averaged 10.1 as a freshman starter and then 17.4 last season as a sophomore for head coach Matt Tomlin (who earlier was named State D4 Coach of the Year).

In addition to basketball, Laila also has competed in track and field for St. Bernard’s and last spring was one of the top 100-meter hurdlers in the NCS in addition to doing sprints.

While the team became the first ever state champion from the Humboldt-Del Norte region of the NCS, Florvilus is not the first ever D4 player of the year. The only other honoree has been Trina McCartney of McKinleyville in 1987.

Recent State D4 Players of the Year: 2023 Yalee Schwartz (Los Angeles Shalhevet); 2022 Hannah Golan (Ross Branson); 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).

Daijhah Teague flies in on defense for Oakland High during D5 state final. Photo: Willie Eashman / Cal-Hi Sports.

Daijha Teague (Oakland) 5-5 Sr. G

The city of Oakland didn’t have a state player of the year last season and returns to get one this year with Teague, who put on a show in the CIF D5 state final in leading the Wildcats to a 56-50 triumph over Montgomery of San Diego.

Sure, Daijha isn’t at the same level as a couple of the Oakland Tech players, especially national sophomore recruit Jhai Johnson but they were in a much higher CIF division. She still showed she can play at the D1 college level (if she wants to) by scoring 15 points, collecting 15 rebounds and handing out seven assists in the state title game.

“She showed off her whole bag tonight,” said Oakland head coach Nita Simpson after the state final (who earlier was selected as the D5 State Coach of the Year).

Teague averaged 17.2 ppg for the Wildcats and also has a 4.0 GPA. It’s the academics side of it is why she might not play in college and she may be just as adept at coding on the keyboard as creating on the hardwood.

Oakland High had its first state player of the year on the boys side last year in D3 with Money Williams. Daijha is the first for the girls. She also is the first-ever D5 state player of the year from any East Bay school (including those from the NCS). Oakland Tech’s girls had a state player of the year in 2020 in D3 and in 2022 in D2.

Recent State D5 Players of the Year: 2023 Christelle Williams (Roseville Valley Christian); 2022 Summer Jenkins (San Anselmo San Domenico); 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 Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports

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