P2P CCS Girls Basketball Honors
A'Shanti Coleman was a dominating presence for Sacred Heart Cathedral, leading the Irish to the CCS Open title. (Sacred Heart Cathedral Basketball)


Player of the Year


Sacred Heart Cathedral senior A’shanti Coleman was a dominating presence for the CCS Open Division champions. With averages of 12.3 points and 10.7 rebounds, and a strong defensive presence and shot-blocking ability, she was a critical factor on both ends of the court.

For her effort this season, she is the Prep2Prep CCS Player of the Year.

Coleman started playing during the preschool years and grew up in a basketball-oriented family. In sixth grade she was practicing with the high school teams, in seventh grade she won a championship, and from then on appeared on AAU teams.

Both Coleman and SHC coach LyRyan Russell both agree the standout forward/center was not nearly the same player she is now when she arrived at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

“I was lazy,” said Coleman. “I used to be the last player coming down on the court, but now I’m usually the first one done with sprints. (Russell) changed my mental toughness. He made me develop all my skills. My work ethic was getting better.”

Russell became the coach at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Coleman’s sophomore year, her second on the team.

“You could see the potential that was there,” says Russell. “I don’t think she understood how good she was.”

On another team, Coleman’s scoring average could easily hit the 20-point mark. She made about 50 percent of her field-goal attempts, and proved she could create her own shot or be an able beneficiary for her teammates.

“My coaches let me be free on the court,” Coleman said. “I can shoot 15-18 feet out, can dribble up and down the court, and if I have open lanes take it in. They gave me the green light to do everything.”

Adds Russell: “She was such an instrumental part in our season. She was the pivotal part of our defense that could guard any player one through five, blocked two to three shots per game, and had the intimidation factor as well. This year was about putting it all together and getting ready to play at the next level.”

Coleman will attend the University of Arizona in the fall. She recalls a sampling of offers in her junior year, but it all changed during the summer.

“Everything started blowing up. I was going to out of state tournaments and coaches were calling me left and right. They made sure they got my attention.”

The team’s success didn't hurt. Sacred Heart Cathedral, behind Coleman, Iimari’i Thomas, Kayla Coloyan, Gabrielle Vigil, and others, shocked St. Ignatius in the CCS playoffs, then beat Pinewood in the final.

And in the CIF playoffs, the Fightin’ Irish very nearly pulled off a major upset against eventual state champion St. Mary’s-Stockton, leading in the waning minutes before the Rams came out with a 70-65 win.

“We put in the hard work to get where we were but we just came up short,” says Coleman.

She noted a dramatic change from the beginning to the end of the season in the team’s work habits. The Fightin’ Irish accumulated six losses by the time the WCAL season got underway, and finished 18-11 overall. But they did have an extremely tough schedule.

Much of the core had played together for six years, and Russell says Coleman was “one of the leaders who guides the team in the right direction. She lets her play do the talking.”

Asked what part of her game she’s most proud of, Coleman said that offensively it’s her movement with the ball.

“People would assume I dribble high but in reality I can get to the basket from the 3-point line with one dribble. I use my size to my advantage, I have a first quick step.”

No matter where the road takes Coleman next, one thing’s for certain: she left a strong impression in these formidable years.

Coach of the Year

Donovan Blythe led Eastide College Prep to the brink of a Division V State Championship.


In a league where Pinewood regularly commands a lot of attention, and rightly so, there is another group of Panthers who are perennially on the prowl, and this year they went farther than ever before. As a result, Donovan Blythe, coach of Eastside College Prep, is the choice for Prep2Prep CCS Coach of the Year.

“It was an incredible season,” said Blythe. “They are great kids, not just basketball players, but wonderful young people.”

The Panthers picked up their first-ever NorCal banner and fell just shy of a Division V State Championship. In the CCS Open Division playoffs, sixth-seeded Eastside knocked off No. 3 Mitty, fell to Pinewood by only a bucket, and then topped St. Ignatius in the third-place game.

Blythe considers himself “a very disciplined coach, a player’s coach. I let my kids play as long as they are playing the right way. I run a system. If you play four years with me, you will get better.”

Eastside Prep carries only six players on its roster, which means Blythe has to get the absolute most out of his starting five while avoiding foul trouble. Mission accomplished.

Senior forward Destiny Graham led the way with double-digit averages in scoring and rebounding. Brije Byers provided punch from the point guard slot, Chacitty Cunningham provided a link in between, and three freshmen rounded out the roster.

One of them, Kayla Tahaafe, finished third on the team in scoring at 10.7 points per game. Blythe believes the small roster size helps to teach discipline and says the players adjust. He adds that this season’s senior trio “genuinely cares about each other, and it makes a big difference.”

Blythe assumed coaching duties at the start of the 2006-07 season. He inherited a solid team and went 31-2 in his first campaign.

Overall he has piled up 175 wins in his career at Eastside Prep. After the impressive run in the CCS Open Division playoffs, the Panthers held San Domenico to 13 points in the CIF opener, beat University, and tamed Valley Christian-Dublin before falling to La Jolla Country Day, 40-36. The season’s high-water marks in the regular season included wins at Bishop O’Dowd, versus Cardinal Newman, and versus Piedmont.

Blythe came to Eastside College Prep eight years ago with a unique perspective. He spent the majority of his childhood in Jamaica. When his family moved to the United States, he started playing basketball at Evanston Township High in Illinois and went on to play at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

Before coming to America, he’d never even seen a basketball, much less played it. But in just a few years he was being recruited.

A plan to play overseas was detoured by meeting another love of his life — his wife, who was originally from the Golden State. She didn’t like the cold winters and the couple moved to Northern California.

He ran a group home for abused kids for 12 years and during that time started his own basketball camp. He joined up with Nike thanks to Sonny Vaccaro, who was recently profiled on ESPN’s 30 for 30, and ran traveling teams that featured future NBA players Jason Kidd, Baron Davis, and Paul Pierce, among others.

Additional experience included training individual players and coaching at Cañada College in Redwood City. He has seen plenty of overseas action.

“I was in Spain, they run academies where all the kids are learning the same stuff, repetition, doing things the correct way,” he says, noting that the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs didn’t build their international roster by accident. “If you get a chance to go around the world you learn a lot from different styles of basketball.”

But he still recalls his youth as being particularly impactful. “Coming from a third-world country you have to learn how to work hard at a young age. I try to pass that work ethic onto young people. If you don’t have the mindset for repetition, you’ll never get better.”

Blythe will continue on as coach of the Panthers. He had a pair of CCS titles coming into this season, and had been in several NorCal Championship games, so he’s grateful to have cleared the hurdle in 2015.

“I’m glad they get to enjoy their success,” Blythe said. “I’ve been blessed to be able to be around some great kids, and the way the school is set up has a lot to do with that.”

Senior of the Year

The WCAL Player of the Year demonstrated excellent all-around ability and led the Wildcats to a 22-7 mark against one of the toughest schedules possible. Her 11.3 points and 9.6 rebounds per game were both team-highs. The 6-foot forward will take her talents to St. Mary’s next season.

Junior of the Year

The interior presence for the Lancers got the most out of her 5-8 frame, compiling 12.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per contest. She averaged 16.7 points and 7.7 points during her team’s run to a CCS Division II Championship, and totaled 19 points and 10 rebounds in the first of two state playoff games.

Sophomore of the Year

Thomas was a big reason the Fightin’ Irish captured the CCS Open Division Championship and nearly downed eventual State champion St. Mary’s-Stockton in the CIF playoffs. She had 22 points and 10 rebounds versus Pinewood, fueling a second -half comeback to capture the CCS title. In the loss to St. Mary’s, she compiled 12 points and 14 boards. She led the Fightin’ Irish in both scoring and rebounding for the season.

Freshman of the Year

The 5-10 forward led a talented Panther squad in both scoring (11.9 ppg) and rebounding (8.0 rpg). She had eight double-doubles during the season.


Destiny Graham, Eastside Prep
Position: Forward/Center
Year: Senior

Also an Arizona commit, Graham’s 16 points and 14 rebounds per game drove the Panthers to a NorCal Division V Championship and first-ever state final appearance. Lengthy and athletic, she performed well on the break, was a nuisance defensively, and was the key figure on a six-member squad. In the summer, a scout for ESPN noted her “off-the-charts potential.”

Marissa Hing, Pinewood
Position: Guard
Year: Senior

The sparkplug for a very successful Panthers team averaged 10.8 points and 3.2 assists per game. But more importantly, the speedy and pesky point guard - who is the Mercury News’s girls basketball player of the year and headed to UC San Diego - provided leadership and inspiration. And at only 5-1, coach Doc Scheppler said: “You have to be big in other ways … it’s her will (and) relentless desire.”

Regina Sankey, Branham
Position: Forward
Year: Senior

The heartbeat of the CCS Division III champions contributed a section-leading 23.3 points per game along with 10.8 rebounds and 3.9 steals. She had 30 points - with six 3s - and 12 rebounds in the title game.


Kayla Coloyan, Sacred Heart Cathedral
Position: Guard
Year: Senior

The point guard for the Fightin’ Irish was averaging 12.6 points per game through Jan. 31, and helped power the Open Division CCS champs with her hustle, passing ability, and scoring from all areas of the court.

Heleyna Hill, Mitty
Position: Guard
Year: Sophomore

The dynamic Hill averaged a team-high 12.8 points for the Division II state champions. She often scored in bunches, inspiring or fending off comebacks, and showed impressive range. She had 24 points and four steals in the NorCal Championship win over Dublin.

Madeline Holland, Mitty
Position: Forward
Year: Sophomore

Like Coloyan and Hill, Holland earned WCAL first-team honors. She averaged 11.2 points and 8.9 rebounds per game for a Monarchs team that went 25-6 overall. She had 14 points, 16 boards, and nine assists in the CCS Open Division consolation championship.

Mandy Silver, Scotts Valley
Position: Guard/Forward
Year: Senior

The Falcons ran rampant through the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League, and Silver was at the head of a formidable starting unit. She tallied 16.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, 5.2 steals, and 4.9 assists per game — all team-highs. She shared the league’s Most Valuable Player honors with teammate Charlie Boyle.

Iimari'i Thomas, Sacred Heart Cathedral
Position: Forward
Year: Sophomore

Thomas made the All-WCAL second team after leading SHC to the CCS Open title. Her clutch play in the post-season was a key to the Irish success.


Yazmeen Goo, Westmoor
Position: Guard
Year: Senior

Goo was co-MVP of the PAL—North - along with Arianna Sheehy of Terra Nova - averaging more than 13 points per game.

Jayme Hughes, Mountain View
Position: Forward
Year: Senior

Hughes led the Spartans to a 19—6 record and was named MVP of the SCVAL—De Anza.

Alyssa Springs, North Salinas
Position: Forward
Year: Senior

Springs averaged 14 points and nine rebounds per game for the unbeaten MBL—Gabilan champs.

Gabi Bade, Pinewood
Position: Guard
Year: Senior

Bade averaged 10.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.2 steals per game.

Charlie Boyle, Scotts Valley
Position: Forward/Center
Year: Senior

The co-SCCAL Player of the Year, Boyle averaged 16.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.9 steals per game.


ARCHBISHOP MITTY: Jahnay Anderson, Taylor Todd
CAPUCHINO: Brianna Deckman
CASTILLEJA: Paige Vermeer
CUPERTINO: Olivia Wissig
DEL MAR: Mia Favela
EASTSIDE COLLEGE PREP: Brije Byers, Kayla Tahaafe
GUNDERSON: Essence Johnson, Laura Ndifon
HARKER: Jordan Thompson
HOMESTEAD: Ugochi Anudokem
JAMES LICK: Carol Carrillo
KIRBY PREP: Margaret Randell
LELAND: Melissa Fletcher
LIVE OAK: Amy Gunther
MENLO: Sam Erisman
MENLO-ATHERTON: Ilana Baer, Greer Hoyem
MILLS: Aubrie Businger
NORTH SALINAS: Nicole Hermossillo-Wright
OAK GROVE: Kimi Soto
PALO ALTO: Alexis Harris, Lauren Koyama
PIEDMONT HILLS: Tyiteyana Jefferson, Jennielyn Sipat
PINEWOOD: Chloe Eackles, Akayla Hackson, Stella Kailahi
PRESENTATION: Maddie Guidoux, Maeve Kavanagh
SANTA CLARA: Katherine Knowles
SARATOGA: Mikayla Davis
SCOTTS VALLEY: Nikiya Bechtle, Sam Boyle
SILVER CREEK: Madison Hotchkiss, JoyAnn Pabelonio
SOBRATO: Vanessa Gonzalez, Hazel Hill
SOQUEL: Natalie Diaz
ST. FRANCIS: Daisha Abdelkader, Jenesis Merriman
ST. IGNATIUS: Tyler Brown, Josie Little, Addi Walters, Joleen Yang
TERRA NOVA: Arianna Sheehy
VALLEY CHRISTIAN: Kyanna Davis, Sami Oliver