With the 2019-20 high school girls basketball season about to tip off, here’s a look at Scorebook Live’s preseason rankings of the Top 15 teams in Southern California. Our rankings span the Southern, L.A. City and San Diego Sections.

Preseason SoCal Girls Basketball Top 15

1. Sierra Canyon Trailblazers

Last year’s record: 33-1

Head coach: Alicia Komaki

Division: Southern Section 1

Outlook: Sierra Canyon will look to repeat as state champions and keep status as the best team in California. Their only loss last season came by double-digits to a dominant Windward squad in the Southern Section championship who they had beaten earlier in the season, and they avenged it the next week by double-digits en route to a state championship. 

Sierra Canyon only had two seniors on the team last season. They were led by two 5-star junior guards — reigning Open Division Player of the Year Vanessa DeJesus, and First Team All-Division player Ashley Chevalier. With both of them still at the helm in addition to star wing Alexis Mark and one of the best coaches in the business, there is no reason to set the bar any lower than the very top this season. 

2. Mater Dei Monarchs

Last year’s record: 28-5

Head coach: Kevin Kiernan

Division: Southern Section 1

Outlook

While Mater Dei was outstanding and clearly a top-three team in SoCal last season, their season had some close calls and moments of disappointment. Their four regular season losses came by a combined 14 points in some winnable games, and their state tournament run was axed in the quarterfinals by 25 points against a dominant Clovis West team that the Monarchs certainly were capable of competing with.

This could very well be their year to compete for status as the top dog, especially with Windward’s potential to regress. Mater Dei will struggle with the loss of star shooting guard Cailyn Crocker, but reigning All-Division member Brooke Demetre, now a junior, headlines a host of standout returners.

At 6-2 with great athleticism, Demetre is a matchup nightmare at any frontcourt position, particularly power forward, and might still be growing. She’s arguably the best SoCal prospect in the class of 2021, and is joined by, among others, another great junior in guard Alyssa Frescas, who’s one of the best shooters from deep in high school hoops. Sophomore forward Soleil Montrose is yet another scoring threat who’s transferring in from Rosary. She will be a major addition in the front court, capable of playing either alongside or behind Demetre.



3. Windward Wildcats

Last year’s record: 26-6

Head coach: Vanessa Nygaard

Division: Southern Section 1

Outlook: With star seniors Charisma Osborne and Kaiyah Corona gone, Windward may struggle to remain in the top two in SoCal, but they’re still in the running for the title. Coach Vanessa Nygaard is the reigning Open Division Coach of the Year for the three-time reigning Open Division champion. Windward was the only team to beat Sierra Canyon last season, and knocked off other top challengers in both the regular season and playoffs such as Mater Dei, Rosary Academy, and Etiwanda.

While they’ll miss Osborne and Corona, the Wildcats still have not only an elite coach but also a championship pedigree and lots of remaining talent. McKayla Williams is a top-10 wing in the country, and is surrounded with depth. Whether more stars will emerge on a consistent basis will determine if this Windward team is elite or if they’re the best.

4. Rosary Academy Royals

Last year’s record: 27-8

Head coach: Richard Yoon

Division: Southern Section 1

Outlook: The reigning Division 1 state champion was just a touch below the aforementioned trifecta last season, but not so much that they couldn’t compete, and this might be the year they close that small gap. They had to beat Troy, which they did convincingly, La Jolla Country Day, which they did with a bit of room to spare, and Bishop O’Dowd in the title game, which they did quite convincingly as well. And with 4-star point guard Asia Avinger back for her senior year, they’ll consistently put the ball in the hands of one of the best playmakers in the state.

It will be hard to replace center Savannah Felix, a walking double-double who graduated, but Avinger showed that when she needs to go into scorer mode, she’s up for it, while also being a an unreal rebounder for a 5-7 point guard. In the title game against Bishop O’Dowd for instance, she turned it on for 24 points, double her season average. That’ll also help mitigate the loss of forward Soleil Montrose transferring to a rival in Mater Dei.

Joining Avinger in the backcourt will be sophomore Kaylee Byon and senior sniper Nicole Rodriguez to round out what might be the deepest and most versatile backcourt in the state. They might prove to be the outright best guard rotation in the state when it’s all said and done.

5. Etiwanda Eagles

Last year’s record: 26-6

Head coach: Stan Delus

Division: Southern Section 1

Outlook: Etiwanda had one of the best defenses in the state last season. While they didn’t have the playoff success they hoped for, their only losses on the season were well-contested games against the best teams in the country. And they made the Open Division by taking care of business against nationally elite competition all season long, spending some of the regular season ranked in the top-10 in the country.

They will probably struggle substantially with the loss of versatile, sweet-shooting wing Evanne Turner, who now plays for UC Davis. Davis was the best shooter and scorer in Eagles’ girls’ history, and Etiwanda hasn’t lost a league game since 2010-2011. First Team All-League PF Kimora Sykes is another massive loss as well. But star point guard Joy Campbell will be back for her senior season after averaging 16 PPG last year. And 6-2 F/C Nnenna Orji is another returning all-league member who anchors the paint.

6. Bishop Montgomery Knights

Last year’s record: 23-7 

Head coach: Noelle Quinn

Division: Southern Section 1

Outlook: Last year, just like in our preseason rankings this year, Bishop Montgomery was just barely below the tier of the top five or so teams on this list. They were 23-5 before losing two postseason games by a combined eight points to Sierra Canyon and Mater Dei, and almost all of their regular season losses came to at worst, top-100 teams in the country. 

The big question is how they’ll handle the losses of two shooting guards named Kayla (out of three shooting guards named Kayla on the team). That will make practices less confusing, but will definitely be a struggle to make up for. SG/SF Kayla Padilla was one of the better wings in the state, and PG/SG Kayla Williams was another standout in the backcourt. (Kayla Moody is expected to be a major contributor this year as a senior.) 

Seniors Cyan Dyke and junior Khylee Pepe provided even more versatility and depth at the wing last season, and will be ready to shoulder even more responsibility as upperclasswomen on what should be another deep Knights team. 

7. Cathedral Catholic Dons

Last year’s record: 26-7

Head coach: Jackie Turpin

Division: San Diego 1

Outlook: The Dons have one of the brightest futures in the state, and that could begin this season for a team that was already elite last year. The reigning San Diego Section Open Division champion made it one round into state last season and lost by five to King, who lost by four to semifinalist La Jolla Country Day, who kept it within single-digits against eventual Division 1 champion Rosary Academy. In other words, Cathedral Catholic is still a little ways from the top, but the gap isn’t very big. This year, they have a great mix of seniors and younger talent that should compete in the Division 1 playoffs again this year and reach higher levels down the road.

There were only two seniors last season, and both were key cogs in the rotation but neither were stars. 5-star 6-4 center Isuneh “Ice” Brady is arguably the top player/prospect in the class of 2022. She put up 16.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 2.5 blocks last season as a freshman. One of the most versatile players in SoCal, Mazatlan “Mazzie” Harris, will be back as well as a senior. Last season the forward averaged 10.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.8 steals, and 1.7 blocks per game while also knocking down jumpers extremely efficiently in mild sample size. 

Point guards Itzel “Izzy” Navarro and Alyssa Garcia were both top players as underclasswomen last season. They, along with more returning rotation players in SF Taryn Johnson, SG Zoe Clark, and PG Kaylee Goff, round out one of the longest teams out there that forced over 12 steals per game last season. 

8. Corona Centennial Huskies

Last year’s record: 21-9

Head coach: Martin Woods

Division: Southern Section 1

Outlook: 21-9 is a great, but not eye-popping record, but Centennial’s losses all came narrowly against elite teams. And this year, they have a great chance at taking a big leap.

Last season, Centennial had a host of underclasswomen who will be returning as breakout candidates. PG Jayda Curry was a force on both sides of the ball and a captain as a sophomore. Also in their excellent class of 2022 is a strong frontcourt in Jessica Peterson and Katherine Shipp. Bella Law was a major contributor in the backcourt last season as a freshman. As intriguing and potentially dominant as the Huskies might be this season, next season is going to be the season they’ll have the whole country on notice before it even starts.

9. M.L. King (Riverside) Wolves

Last year’s record: 31-3

Head coach: Jesus Martinez

Division: Southern Section 1

Outlook: King only had a rotation of seven players last season–sometimes only six–so only having nine letterwomen this season shouldn’t be an issue. The Wolves went 31-3 last season, including the playoffs, with only two seniors in the rotation. One of their losses was by three points to Chaminade in the Southern Section Division 1 finals, and another was by four to La Jolla Country Day in the Division 1 state quarterfinals. Of their four players who averaged double-digit scoring last year, all of them are returning. 

Forming of the better backcourts in SoCal, Alexis Mead and Raya Smith combined for 22.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 9.4 assists, and 5.8 steals per game. They’re also outstanding perimeter defenders and a major factor in one of the better defenses in the state on a team that isn’t loaded with overwhelming size. Also returning is an outstanding wing tandem in twins Olivia and Nyah Moran, who combined for 26.1 points, 15.7, and 3.4 rebounds per game. They had to spend pretty much all their time at forward though (including power forward) which is less than ideal. 

Size and depth are set to be a potentially significant issue, because if any one of those four go down with an injury, the season could come to a crashing halt. But if all goes well and they’re able to replace C Danita Young inside, the Wolves will be set to make one of the biggest leaps of any team that was already as good as they were last season.


10. Troy Warriors

Last year’s record: 24-10

Head coach: Roger Anderson

Division: Southern Section 1

Outlook: Last year, Troy made the Division 1 quarterfinals and was knocked out by eventual champion Rosary Academy. More importantly, there was only one senior on the team and they weren’t one of the very top players. They were already great last season, but this year the Warriors have a great mix of young and experienced talent, and might be in for a major jump.

Troy is led by two combo guards with great size, senior Anaiyah Tu’ua and sophomore Hannah Stines, who combined for 22.6 points, 8.8 assists, 11.5 rebounds, and 5.9 steals per game. PG Gaby Tan is another member of a strong backcourt that props up a dynamic offense with a lot of ball movement. 6-5 C Endigo Parker is one of the more intriguing prospects in SoCal in the class of 2021 as a throwback paint anchor with a lot of upside.

11. Chaminade Eagles

Last year’s record: 22-11

Head coach: Kelli Di Muro

Division: Southern Section Division 1

Outlook: Chaminade had an up-and-down regular season last year, but they finished the year on a tear. The Eagles withstood a rigorous Division 1 field including M.L. King (Riverside) and won the Southern Section title, and made it to the state Division 1 semifinals.

They will struggle to replace All-Division 1 guard Leslie Hunter in addition to combo guard Kai Como, but otherwise, last year’s championship team was devoid of seniors. The three most important cogs, Division 1 Coach of the Year Kelli Di Muro, PG Jasmine Rodriguez, and one of the best power forwards in the state in 4-star prospect Alexis Whitfield, will still be around. 

Whitfield, a 6-2 senior, does just about everything other than shooting the three at a very high percentage. She averaged 16.7 points (on 47% shooting from the field), 14 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 3.1 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game for the Eagles, and seems to still be improving. Rodriguez, also a senior, averaged 12.6 PPG and is one of the better three-point shooters in the state. Julianna Fletes provides yet another senior presence as a versatile wing. The biggest question will be how many other role players step up.

12. Roosevelt Mustangs

Last year’s record: 29-6

Head coach: Dennis Ullom

Divison: Southern Section 1

Outlook: After tearing it up too much in Division 2AA, which they almost won, and losing by only one point to Division 2 state champion Rolling Hills Prep to end the season, the Mustangs have been bumped up to Division 1. 

And with their big three returning as upperclasswomen, they’ll be just fine. Ugonne Onyiah was one of the better centers in California last season at only 6-1, putting up 14.2 points, 14.7 boards, and two blocks per game as a junior. Junior forward Jaachi Nwavenu is also a double-double machine in the frontcourt, with a number of major scoring and rebounding outbursts in key games last year, and senior G/F Rachel Nelson is still around as well. 

13. Redondo Union Sea Hawks

Last year’s record: 24-6

Head coach: Marcelo Enriquez

Division: Southern Section 1

Outlook: The Sea Hawks made the Open Division state playoffs last year but were seen to the door early in a close loss to top-seeded Clovis West. Losing guard Dylan Horton, now a Virginia Cavalier, will be very tough, and Taylor Hirn and Kennedy Jackson will be big losses as well. However, Redondo Union still has one of the best point guards in California in senior Alyssa Munn. 

She is joined in the backcourt by Anna Johnson, who has great size for a combo guard at 5-10 and is finally recovered from a major injury that ended her sophomore season. Versatile F/C Lauren Chao will be expected to take a much bigger role, and the same can be said for standout sophomore wing Calli Stokes.
 

14. La Jolla Country Day Torreys

Last season’s record: 22-12

Head coach: Terri Bamford

Division: San Diego 1

Outlook: Last year’s run to the Division 1 title game was an amazing story for a Torreys squad that was nowhere close to that level for much of the regular season. And keeping it within single-digits against Rosary Academy is an accomplishment in and of itself. Because of that playoff run, they not only make the list, but even might end up rising substantially within a couple months.

Losing Marisa Urbano-Sedlund will be tough, as she put up 11.9 PPG with staggering efficiency for a guard, in addition to functioning as a secondary playmaker. But with 5-10 combo guard Te-hina Paopao, PG Jazzy Anousinh, and wing Paris Atchley still around, they’ll be in good shape. Paopao is a matchup nightmare as a big, athletic lead guard. The 5-star recruit averaged 17.5 points, 9.3 boards, four assists, and 2.4 steals per game last season on a ridiculous 55% from within the arc and 39% from three. Anousinh is also good for 12 points, five assists, and two steals per game, and Atchley contributed ten points and five rebounds a night.

Throw in some solid role players and Terri Bamford’s dynamic system, and La Jolla Country Day projects to have another terrifyingly efficient offense. Last year they didn’t have enough size to protect the paint and rebound well against elite teams. But that could change this season if 6-3 freshman center Breya Cunningham is ready to contribute, and they defend so well as a unit and on the perimeter that they usually make up for it anyway.     

15. Serra (Gardena) Cavaliers

Last year’s record: 18-9

Head coach: McKinsey Hadley

Division: Southern Section 1

Outlook: This season could go a number of directions for Serra, but the upside on this squad is substantial. Four-star wing Alexis Tucker averaged 21.8 points, 12.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.4 steals as a senior last season, but she graduated. Wing Jailah Donald was good for 12.2 points, 7.1 boards, two assists, and 2.1 steals per game last season as a freshman and will be on breakout alert as a sophomore. But here’s the key figure: nobody else on the team scored more than 5.1 PPG.

That said, the Cavaliers were a great defensive squad that competed against all nationally elite foes they faced other than Mater Dei, and the biggest contributors other than Tucker and rotation guard Danielle Bagley are back. Donald will shoulder the biggest load as a scorer, and that’s where the questions lie. This team is great at slowing down the pace, getting stops, and rebounding on both sides of the ball. But they only shot 21% from three last season and often struggled with shot creation.

Donald will likely see a noticeable uptick in scoring, especially if she gets enough help to where defenses can’t load up on her overwhelmingly. C Roschondra Prince anchors the paint and will need to be a major factor as the primary post presence on a team without a ton of size. Prince and G Eleni Cabrera were both key players last season who need to lead the way as seniors. G Myanna Emery and wing Diara McBroom both had strong seasons as underclasswomen and have the opportunity to break out this year.

Honorable mentions:

Granada Hills Charter

JW North

Mark Keppel

Long Beach Poly



Lakeside

Camarillo

Harvard-Westlake

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