LIVERMORE, CA – The high school basketball season for girls concluded with last week’s CIF state championships in Sacramento so it’s not surprising the Second Annual NorCalSportsTV All NorCal Games for girls at Las Positas College had a club flavor to it in both games contested.
In fact, all four individual honors and even a top performance by a girl from one of the losing teams came from the Cal Stars Nike EYBL 2017 national champions.
In the Central Valley versus South Valley game it was all Central Valley as the girls from the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section trailed only once at 3-0 before an 8-0 turned it around almost as fast as the blink of an eye in 93-49 victory they won going away.
St. Mary’s-Stockton senior Baylor-bound McDonalds All-American and 2017 Cal Stars top star Aquira DeCosta could have scored as many points as she wanted to but instead was content to feed her teammates but still was dominant every time the ball was in her hands. The 6-2 ESPN No. 1 ranked wing and No. 4 overall senior player in the nation finished with a double-double 10 points and 13 rebounds with seven assists, four steals and four blocks. DeCosta wasn’t the leading scorer but was an easy choice for Player of the Game.
“Enjoying the moment and having fun,” was the response of DeCosta when asked what the best thing was for her about this all star game. “It’s a way to celebrate the end of a great season.”
DeCosta’s St. Mary’s and Cal Stars teammate and Florida-bound Ariel Johnson was the Defensive Player of the Game after going for 13 points and six rebounds. The leading scorer for Central Valley was another St. Mary’s and Cal Stars standout, and that was Princeton-bound Neenah Young. She had 15 points with two 3-pointers.
San Jose State-bound Raziya Potter from Kimball-Tracy and University of Pacific-signed Kaylin Randhawa of Pitman-Turlock each added 11 points. Potter also had eight rebounds.
All 10 girls on the South Valley scored but no one was in double figures. Immanuel-Reedley wing Krystale Gutierrez led the way with team highs of nine points and six rebounds.
In the second girls all-star game the Bay Area girls had a much rougher time but despite giving up a 15-2 fourth quarter run that turned a 94-81 lead into a 96-96 tie after four 10-minute quarters, they came out on top in a 100-98 overtime victory over the Sacramento area girls.
Trailing 98-96 in the 2-minute overtime, Bay Area tied it at 98-98 on a basket by Campolindo-Moraga star Haley Van Dyke. Then, with the clock running down and Sacramento looking for a last shot for the game winner, Van Dyke’s Cal Stars teammate Clair Steele, from high school arch rival Miramonte-Orinda, got a steal and tossed it ahead up court to an open Van Dyke for a game-winning layup.
The Washington-bound Van Dyke earned Player of the Game honors after finishing with a double-double 27 points and 10 rebounds with three steals. Lehigh-bound Steele snagged Defensive Player of the Game and finished with 14 points, five assists and four steals.
Three other girls had solid games for the Bay Area team. Minnesota-bound Sila Finau, another Cal Stars star, had 14 points, unsigned James Logan-Union City standout Indya Williams added 12 points, six rebounds and three steals, and Woodside Priory unsigned guard Tatiana Reese chipped in with 11 points, six rebounds, two assists, and two steals.
“I thought it was a really good experience and a great way to close out my high school career with all my friends and high school teammates and rivals,” Van Dyke said.
One of those players Van Dyke was speaking of was her Cal Stars teammate McKenzie Forbes of the Sacramento team. The Cal-bound Folsom McDonalds All-American and Cal Stars phenom would have been an easy choice as the game’s top player had her team come out victorious but despite being on the short end the ESPN No. 5 ranked wing and No. 36 senior player overall had a huge double-double 27 points and 12 rebounds with four assists.
Another Sacramento player that had an impressive outing that might get the unsigned guard some looks was Tiana Lowery. She finished with 26 points including six of 10 on 3-pointers, plus six rebounds and four assists. Colorado-bound Sirena Tuitele added a double-double 11 points and 10 rebounds with four blocks, Southern Methodist-bound Oak Ridge-El Dorado Hills and Cal Stars standout Marie Olson had 17 points and seven rebounds, and unsigned McClatchy-Sacramento star Richelle Turney chipped in with 11 points.
Three point shooting is what kept Sacramento in the game as they made 16 shots from outside the arc to seven for the Bay Area girls.
“They were deeper and bigger but we had the better ball movement,” said Bay Area Coach Art Thoms.
“It was a perfect way to end my career with a great group of kids I’ve known for 10 years,” continued Thoms, who after stepping down after six years as head coach at Campolindo and 10 with the Lafayette Lightning, coached his last girls basketball game.