P2P NCS Girls Basketball Honors
Junior Sabrina Ionescu is the clear choice for Prep2Prep NCS Player of the Year. (Miramonte Basketball)


Player of the Year


In past years a decision on the top girls basketball player in the North Coast Section has been a difficult task.

This season Sabrina Ionescu of Miramonte was a slam dunk winner and is the Prep2Prep NCS Player of the Year.

Last year’s winner and current Louisville freshman All-American Mariya Moore of Salesian had some competition from the current Cal freshmen duo of Mikayla Cowling and Gabby Green of St. Mary’s-Berkeley, as well as Nebraska freshman Natalie Romeo of Carondelet.

This year the only other major Division I signees amongst the individual class winners and first-team honorees were Prep2Prep NCS Senior of the Year Ma’Ane Mosley of St. Mary’s and Bishop O'Dowd guard Aisia Robertson, a Prep2Prep first-team all-NCS selection and Kansas commit.

While both Mosley and Robertson were solid impact players, neither could really challenge Ionescu for top honors.

Not only is the 6-foot junior the Prep2Prep NCS Player of the Year, but Ionescu was the only girl from the NCS and one of only two girls from Northern California - along with Mi’Cole Cayton of St. Mary’s-Stockton - to be named among the six finalists for the Cal-Hi Sports Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year award.

In fact, Ionescu was also the top junior of three finalists from the class of 2016 for the state’s top girls basketball individual honor, and will come into next season as the prohibitive favorite for the Ms. Basketball title.

Although she didn’t get the Ms. Basketball award this season, Ionescu was named the State Junior and Division III Player of the Year after being named State Sophomore of the Year and the Division III winner last year.

“It’s a great feeling to win the Prep2Prep honor to go with my other awards, but I couldn’t have done it without the best coach and the best teammates,” Ionescu said.

With a D3 designation from the NCS, Miramonte - led by coach Kelly Sopak - and Ionescu once again were moved up to the Northern Regional Open Division, and for the second straight year she led the Mats to the NorCal Open Division title game, this time falling to eventual state champions St. Mary’s-Stockton.

With Ionescu leading the way, Miramonte finished 30-5 and was No. 2 in the final Prep2Prep Northern California rankings and No. 5 in the Cal-Hi Sports final overall state rankings.

Ionescu improved her numbers in all categories compared to her sophomore season and showed why 22 major colleges have offered her a scholarship, including Connecticut, Duke, Notre Dame, Stanford and every other major college power, plus just about every Pac-12 school.

Despite being pulled early in many games in which the Mats were comfortably ahead, this past season she averaged 23 points, 8.9 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 5 steals per game. Ionescu also shot 39 percent on 3-pointers and 84.7 percent from the free-throw line.

Although she can score at will against most high school opponents, Ionescu is known more for her defense and ability to deliver the ball to teammates on offense. Not only does she like distributing the ball more than scoring, interested colleges are looking to her to assume that role at the next level.

“I really love getting my teammates involved,” said Ionescu, after putting on an outstanding display of all her coveted skills at the Cal Stars Battle of the Bay event on April 18 at Jam Town in Oakland.

Last summer in international competition, Ionescu led the USA U17 Gold Medal winning national team in steals and was second in assists. In 2013, as a sophomore, she was also on the USA U16 Gold Medal winning national team.

“What makes Sabrina so exceptional is not just the fact she has tremendous basketball talent, but she has a relentless work ethic,” Sopak said. “It’s simple as it sounds and it is simple, but a lot of kids want to play and be good, and have the accolades that come with success, but 99 percent of the kids don’t put in the effort she does.”

Added Sopak: “Another thing that makes Sabrina special is she cares more about the scoreboard than any individual stats. It means a lot to me when it’s more important to her than anything else that the team wins.”

According to Mitty coach and USA National Team coach Sue Phillips, who coached Ionescu in both appearances in international competition the past two summers: “Sabrina is instant offense, either as a playmaker or big shot taker and maker. She can defend multiple positions with her length and quickness and her basketball IQ is very high and allows her to play multiple styles of offense and defense.”

The good news for Miramonte fans is Ionescu is back next season and if she continues to improve as she has the past two seasons, the Mats are going to be a formidable force once again in California girls basketball.

Coach of the Year

Kelly Sopak led Miramonte to a 30-3 record and to the brink of a state championship. ( )


While his big-time star Sabrina Ionescu gets almost all the ink, the job Miramonte coach Kelly Sopak did this past season and what he’s done in particular the past four years at the helm of the Matadors has been exemplary.

Now, after leading the Mats to a 30-3 record this past season, a second straight Northern Regional Open Division runner-up finish, and a second consecutive CIF North Coast Section Division III title, Sopak has been named the Prep2Prep NCS Girls Coach of the Year.

This year Miramonte also won its fourth straight Diablo Foothill League title and has gone 118-10 in that four-year span. All 10 of the losses the Mats have had during that stretch under Sopak have come against nationally-ranked teams.

Sopak’s teams have also won 50 straight in DFAL play and own a 67-game home winning streak.

Two years ago, when his team went 27-3 before losing by a point to St. Mary’s-Stockton in the NorCal Open Division quarterfinals, Sopak was named the Contra Costa Times Girls Coach of the Year, but despite a stellar 10-year career as a coach, the Prep2Prep award this year is the only other recognition he’s received.

“It feels good to be acknowledged for doing what you love, but for me personal recognition is the same as when a player on the team gets recognized,” Sopak said. “It’s a collective effort. It means I’ve had some pretty good players and some great assistants.”

Sopak began his career as an assistant at Northgate in 2004 before taking the helm the following season. His first team in 2005-2006 went 22-6 and tied for first place in the Diablo Foothill League. In four years at Northgate, Sopak compiled a 94-20 record, won two DFAL titles and finished second and third in league the other two seasons.

Besides the four DFAL titles since coming to Miramonte six years ago, his other two teams in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 finished second and third in league, respectively.

In 10 years combined between Northgate and Miramonte, Sopak has a 257-45 record overall. That translates into an 85.1 winning percentage, a percentage that puts him in the top 15 all-time for California girls basketball coaches and earns him a spot in the Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book on the list of best all-time winning percentages for girls coaches.

His teams have all won at least 22 games and three times they have reached the 30-win plateau, including the last two seasons.

“Obviously he has Sabrina (Ionescu), and no offense to his other players, but Kelly has done an amazing job for what he has at a small-town school,” said Bentley girls coach and assistant athletic director Clay Kallam.

“What he does really well is he holds kids accountable for their play,” continued Kallam, who holds the only vote in Northern California on the McDonald’s All-American selection committee for girls. “He has a real grasp of what each player can or can’t do, and he’ll change the lineup each game if someone doesn’t play well. He does have a system he runs but he’s not locked into things. Another one of Kelly’s real assets with kids is he has an ability to teach them to do a lot of things well.”

Sopak doesn’t teach at Miramonte but he’s an extremely busy man. Besides coaching high school he’s had a State Farm insurance agency in Albany for over 20 years and is also the coach of the Gold Team of the Cal Stars club program he founded in 2006.

His Cal Stars Gold team, which features Ionescu, Prep2Prep NCS Junior of the Year Minyon Moore of Salesian, Cal-Hi Sports State Freshman of the Year Aquira DeCosta of St. Mary’s-Stockton, and 3-point record breaker Kat Tudor of St. Mary’s-Stockton, will be travelling to Virginia this weekend for the Nike EYBL (Elite Youth Basketball League) Boo Williams event, where the team is projected to do very well.

Senior of the Year

Mosley’s presence inside and outside of the paint was vital to the Panthers’ success, which included a 23-9 record, a TCAL-Rock final win, and an appearance in the NCS Open Division playoffs. She averaged about 18 points and 11 rebounds per game, both team highs, and was the steadiest player on the roster. Her ability to drive through the key and ability to clean up the glass stood out. Mosley is headed to Cal next year.

Junior of the Year

The younger sister of now-Louisville star Mariah, Minyon was among the section’s most balanced players. Her 13.8 points, 6.8 assists, 5.4 steals, and 4.6 rebounds per game helped Salesian to an undefeated league record and a NCS Division IV Championship. She and Kian McNair formed the foundation, and regularly involved freshmen and newcomers. And her quickness and defensive tenacity created headaches for opponents.

Sophomore of the Year

Codding was a revelation, especially after Devin Murray went down with an injury in mid-January. The 6-0 guard finished with averages of 12.7 points, 11.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 3.6 steals, and 3.5 blocks per game. She had 16 double-doubles and one triple-double (20 points, 20 rebounds, and 10 assists versus Liberty in the NCS playoffs).

Freshman of the Year

Mbeledogu led the Knights in scoring with 18.4 points per game, well above the next in line (sister Idinma). She also collected just over eight rebounds per contest. She scored 47 points in two games versus DFAL giant Miramonte.


Hailey Pascoe, Clayton Valley Charter
Position: Guard/Forward
Year: Senior

The Lehigh-bound Pascoe could take over a game like few others. She tallied 22.1 points per game and had over two each of rebounds, assists, and steals. She scored over 30 points five times. With her fine three-point shooting and ability to get to the rim, the fearless star found many ways to help the Ugly Eagles to a 24-8, 10-1 record and an appearance in the NCS Division I semifinals.

Aisia Robertson, Bishop O’Dowd
Position: Guard
Year: Senior

Robertson helped the Dragons pick up a state title, and was the key returnee from last year’s roster (especially since Asha Thomas missed virtually the entire campaign recovering from an injury). Speed, defense, and sharp-shooting, are just some of the characteristics of her game that come to mind. Robertson credited growing up in Oakland with making her tougher and building character. Both traits are always on display when she suits up.


Nina Bessolo, Valley Christian-Dublin
Position: Forward
Year: Junior

Bessolo was a huge part of a Vikings team that won the NCS Division V Championship and played in the NorCal final after steamrolling the Bay Counties-East league. She averaged 16.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game. She had 16 points, 16 rebounds, and six assists in the NCS title game.

Marcella Hughes, Carondelet
Position: Guard
Year: Senior

Taking over for Natalie Romeo would be no easy task for anyone, but Hughes made the transition as seamless as possible. Her solid shooting touch and ability to set up her teammates helped the Cougars to an undefeated season in the EBAL and a 26-4 overall record. She won MVP awards in both the West Coast Jamboree (where the Cougars won the Diamond Division) and Dorothy Speck Tournament, and will attend Loyola Marymount next year.

Ameela Li, Piedmont
Position: Guard
Year: Senior

Li’s per-game averages of 21 points and 6.5 steals powered the Highlanders to appearances in the State and NorCal finals. Li, playing in just her second season for Piedmont (she previously played for Oakland Tech), filled the huge gap left by Lauren Seyranian and JoNae Gonzales.

Milan Moses, Dublin
Position: Guard
Year: Senior

Moses, the determined point guard of the NCS Division II champs, had been a factor all season long even before her memorable plays in the final stretch of that crown-setting game versus Carondelet. With her speed, outside shooting, and acrobatic drives, Moses gave fans plenty to cheer about and led the Gaels to the NorCal finals.

Jaiamoni Welch-Coleman, Berkeley
Position: Guard
Year: Senior

Welch-Coleman, like Moses, may be short in stature but more than makes up for it. The Weber State commit made dazzling plays with regularity, whether it was slicing through the lane, finding a teammate on a perfect pass, or sinking floaters and three-pointers. She was the lone senior and floor commander of the NCS Division I champs, averaging 15.8 points and 2.7 steals per game.


Kylie Kiech, Cardinal Newman
Position: Guard
Year: Senior

Kiech led Cardinal Newman to a 26-7 overall record and 14-0 record in league.

Katie Rathbun, Carondelet
Position: Guard
Year: Senior

Rathbun led her team to a 26-4 overall record and 14-0 in league.

Brandy Williams, Deer Valley
Position: Center
Year: Senior

Williams averaged 14.1 points and 15.5 rebounds per game.

Kian McNair, Salesian
Position: Guard
Year: Senior

McNair averaged 12.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 3.7 steals in leading her team to a 28-4 overall record, 10-0 in league.

Keanna Delos Santos, Miramonte
Position: Guard
Year: Junior

Delos Santos helped the NCS titlists to a 30-3 record and 12-0 league record and made the All-.DFAL first team.


ACALANES: Emma Godfrey, Brooke Panfili
ALAMEDA: Lisa Bertholdt, Maddy Lewis
ALHAMBRA: Hailee Herndon
ANALY: Jenna Petray
BENTLEY: Sydney Adams, Aubrey Wagner
BISHOP O'DOWD: Salihah Bey, Aerial Chavarin
CAMPOLINDO: Haley Van Dyke
CARDINAL NEWMAN: Tiffany Salinas, Hailey Vice-Neat
CARONDELET: Maaeva Dwiggins, Kim Savio
CLAYTON VALLEY: Morgan Giacobazzi
COLLEGE PARK: Katrina Guytingco, Kyla Miller
CONCORD: Mariah Gonzalez
DEER VALLEY: Amani McCrary
DUBLIN: Julyana Amante, Jojuan Carrington, Alanna Yee
EMERY: Antuanisha Wright
ENCINAL: Destiny Kelly
FOOTHILL: Emily Barrett, Caroline McMorrow
FREEDOM: Bria Greenhouse, Cyndee Kinslow
GRANADA: Delaney Gill-Sommerhauser
JAMES LOGAN: Brittney Deadwiler, Mariah Elzy
JUSTIN-SIENA: Isabel Jennings, Morgan Malloy, Alisyn Slinsen
KENNEDY-RICHMOND: Destanee Alexander, Lexius Meriwether
LAS LOMAS: Idinma Mbeledogu
LIBERTY: Jamesha Green
LICK-WILMERDING: Ayzhiana Basallo, Maya Burris
LIVERMORE: Rachel Hernandez
MIRAMONTE: Uriah Howard, Rachelle Louie
MISSION SAN JOSE: Erikka Linn, Katherine Wu
MONTE VISTA: Amanda Daily
MONTGMOMERY: Abby Lea, Shayla Newman
MT. DIABLO: Ireanna Brown
PETALUMA: Allison Scranton, Joelle Krist
PIEDMONT: Ny’Dajah Jackson
PINER: Daisjah Shepherd
PINOLE VALLEY: Kiley Levesque, Jessica Rogers
PITTSBURG: Adorah Buggs, Seuvahnia Kuka
SAINT MARY'S: Kennedi Villa
SALESIAN: Jordan Hobson
SAN DOMENICO: Rachele Nagler, Aminat Oladunjoye
SANTA ROSA: Devin Murray, Kylie Oden
SONOMA ACADEMY: Savannah Stoughton
ST. JOSEPH NOTRE DAME: Alyssa Gable, Ayesa Kearns
SWETT: Veronica Barnett
TENNYSON: Cymia Alexander
UPPER LAKE: Jojo Augustine, Natalie Karlsson
VALLEY CHRISTIAN-DUBLIN: Kayla Frierson, Alyssa Lorenzo
WASHINGTON: Ariana Vargas
WINDSOR: Jessica Barbosa, Hannah May