ALL-NORTH COAST SECTION
Player of the Year
ANGEL JACKSON, SALESIAN
By HAROLD ABEND
It’s hard to believe it’s been four years since we first saw Angel Jackson at a camp as an incoming Salesian-Richmond freshman.
There was a lot expected from Jackson right from the start, and when you’re 6-5 that’s going to be the case, but not all big girls pan out the way Jackson has after further blossoming each year to a point where she is now the two-time defending Prep2Prep North Coast Section Player of the Year, and is moving on to Southern California on a scholarship where the expectations will be a whole lot higher than they were when she began her high school career with the Pride.
“It feels amazing and such a blessing,” Jackson said when told she was a repeat winner. “I knew all the hard work I put in would pay off and it truly did.”
Along the way Jackson was a McDonald’s All-American and a Jordan Brand Classic selection while helping lead the Pride to a 25-9 record playing against the nation’s toughest competition in tournament action, including a second win in four years in the CIF Open Division playoffs over an Archbishop Mitty team that was nationally ranked both times. Her season didn’t end in a CIF state championship but her Pride team made it the CIF Northern Regional Open Division title game before bowing out to Pinewood.
This past season the double-double machine had per game averages of 16.2 points and 12.0 rebounds, plus she averaged 3.6 blocks, 1.3 steals and 1.3 assists a contest.
Other than her freshman season Jackson has averaged a double-double, and this year, with Salesian Coach Steve Pezzola asking her to score more, she had her highest per game scoring in average in her four-year varsity career, and also had her highest rebounding stats.
“Angel Jackson is a wonderful young lady and an extremely talented, team-oriented basketball player,” Pezzola remarked. “She was deserving of being a McDonalds’ All-American. Her defense was once again dominating and her offensive game improved dramatically, but to us what was more importantly than her physical skills was that she was one of our captains, a team leader and a big part of the winning team chemistry.”
For her career Jackson leaves Salesian with 1,659 points (12.7 ppg), 1,309 rebound (10.0 rpg) and 572 blocks which is 4.4 per game. Her rebounding and blocked shots will qualify for those career lists in the Cal-Hi Sports Record Book.
“My defense is the strongest part of my game,” Jackson remarked. “I love playing defense and I feel my ability to block shots, rebound, and defend the paint and perimeter has improved over the years and I’m proud of myself for that.”
One of her best games last season in a loss to Carondelet-Concord that Salesian later avenged at the West Coast Jamboree. Jackson had 30 points and 11 rebounds with five blocks, and even made three three-pointers.
“Since last year I believe my offensive game has improved tremendously,” Jackson said. “I can now shoot the three, still knock down the 15-footer and I believe my driving to the basket and finishing strong has improved.”
This past season the usually quiet Jackson also became more vocal when she took on the captain’s role.
“Being one of the captains last season taught me a lot of patience and how to be vocal with my team, and I know it will help me as I continue my career,” Angel said.
Jackson knows a lot will be expected of her at Southern California and she’s up to the challenge.
“At USC I’m most looking forward to developing my game and continuing to grow on and off the court,” Jackson said.
Angel says her goal is to play professionally but she’s thinking ahead of playing as well.
“I’ll be studying Early Education,” Jackson answered when asked about her course of study and continued. “Yes, I want to play professionally but I would like to come back to my Richmond community and become an elementary school teacher.”
The patience Angel learned as a team captain certainly will come in handy as an elementary school teacher, but when you’re 6-5 the kids may tend to listen.
Until then it’s off to USC for the Prep2Prep back-to-back North Coast Section Player of the Year award winner.
Coach of the Year
STEPHEN PEZZOLA, SALESIAN
Salesian's Stephen Pezzola is the choice for Prep2Prep NCS Coach of the Year.
By HAROLD ABEND
There may not be a high school coach in any sport, and not only in the North Coast Section, but all of California, with a more interesting and impressive resume as the one of Stephen Pezzola of Salesian in Richmond.
Pezzola is a highly successful corporate attorney, a head coach of the top team of the Orinda Magic, and the Magic is one of the most successful and long-standing club teams in Northern California, he just completed his tenth year of a very successful career at the Salesian helm, for good measure he became the President of Salesian in 2018, and now for the second time after snagging the award in 2014 Pezzola is the Prep2Prep North Coast Section Coach of the Year.
“Thank you to the Prep2Prep team,” Pezzola said when told he had won for a second time. “It means a great deal to receive the Prep2Prep NCS Coach of the Year award. There are many great coaches in the NCS. I value the opinions of Prep2Prep and am thankful for all that it does for high school athletics.”
In his first three seasons his teams won 19, 24 and 35 games but didn’t win a league title, however since then they have won outright or shared a league championship every season and are currently on a 58-game regular season league game winning streak in that period.
The 2012 team that won 35 games didn’t win a league championship, but in the NCS playoffs they beat league champion St. Mary’s-Berkeley in the Division III title game for the first of six NCS championships, and then went on to beat St. Mary’s a second time en route to a CIF state Division IV runner-up finish. The 2013 team also made it to the CIF Division III state championship and in that one they lost it at the buzzer to Serra-Gardena.
In his 10 seasons Pezzola’s team have won at least 20-games nine straight times, 30-games twice, and he has a career 264-70 coaching record.
The record Pezzola has amassed speaks for itself, but there were several coaches deserving of being honored, including finalist and 2018 winner Malik McCord of Bishop O’Dowd, plus John Cristiano of San Ramon Valley, Monica Mertle of Cardinal Newman and Nadine Walker of St. Patrick-St. Vincent.
However, it was what his 25-9 team did against the nation’s top teams that was the big difference and the decision maker.
Salesian was in the top division of the Nike TOC and in their first game they knocked off Centennial-Las Vegas and the only other game the national No. 5 girls from Neva lost was in their final game when they lost to national No. 2 St. John’s Academy of Washington D.C. In their next game they held their own against national No. 1 New Hope Academy (Maryland) in a 41-32 loss.
From there they went to the West Coast Jamboree and avenged an early season loss to Carondelet but fell in the title game of the Platinum Division to Pinewood-Los Altos Hills just like they did in the CIF Northern Regional Open Division title game, the third time Pezzola and his Pride girls have been in a CIF NorCal title game.
In between the losses to Pinewood the Pride got a win to go 1-2 against the Panthers, but the biggest win of the season was a 44-41 upset of Archbishop Mitty-San Jose in the NorCal Open semifinals with Mitty nationally-ranked at the time just like they were when Salesian upset them in 2016 in the first round of the CIF Open Division NorCals.
What made the Archbishop Mitty win even more impressive is during the four years that 2019 Cal-Hi Sports Ms. Basketball and Gatorade State Player of the Year Haley Jones was at Mitty the Monarchs only lost 11 games and two of them were at the hands of Pezzola and his Pride girls
“Two wins in four years against Haley Jones who only lost 11 games in her high school career is not too shabby,” Pezzola said with pride.
Another reason the season for Pezzola and his girls was so impressive was the team overcame adversity.
Prep2Prep North Coast Section Player of the Year and USC-bound Angel Jackson and fellow First Team selection and Hawaii-bound Makayla Edwards were solid all year, although Edwards was sidelined a bit with a broken nose, but senior Nia Chinn, the biggest outside shooting threat of Salesian, went down at the Jamboree, and senior leader and co-captain Bianca Camello was also lost for the season at the Jamboree as well.
“This year was a difficult year with two of our starters suffering freak season ending injuries at the West Coast Jamboree. We lost our best clutch outside shooter, Nia Chinn, and one of our best leaders, Bianca Camello,” lamented Pezzola.
Despite coming up a little short against Pinewood in the CIF NorCal Open Division final against Pinewood, it was still a great season for Salesian, and as he has always done in his successful coaching career for Pezzola it’s all about the girls.
“I was so proud of the team as it played an extremely tough schedule, stuck together, and won its third consecutive Division III NCS crown, this time over a very tough St. Joseph Notre Dame team. Our NorCal Open Division semi-final win over Archbishop Mitty was very special. Mitty was one of the best teams in the nation with the best player in the nation. Our team defense was amazing, and we just had enough offense to win. That win took a lot out of the team emotionally and we fell one game short of the state Open division final.”
The team fell a tad short of every team’s ultimate goal at the beginning of the season, but Pezzola got the very most out of them so he doesn’t fall short after capturing the 2019 Prep2Prep North Coast Section Coach of the Year.
FIRST TEAM ALL-NCS
Jordan Sweeney, Heritage
The Patriots floor general did not make All NCS last season or any of her other three years, but the Idaho State-bound Sweeney was a big part of the reason Heritage had one of its greatest seasons in school history. “Jordan has been the best player in my four years as head coach in terms of level of play and leadership,” said Heritage Coach Rob Ocon. “It’s been a pleasure to coach her and watch her grow since I started coaching her before high school in the sixth grade. Not only that, but she’s a 4.0 student, and to maintain that type of work in the classroom with what she’s accomplished on the court is a testament to her character.” Last season Sweeney led the team in scoring, assists and steals with 14.5 points, 6.0 assists and 3.0 steals per games.
Makayla Edwards, Salesian
If it were only about numbers some might question how Edwards could come up from Second Team last year, but if it were only about stats why would she have been offered a scholarship she accepted to the University of Hawaii. The reason is Edwards’ strongest part of her game as the second best player on a three-time defending NCS Division III championship Pride team, was defense, but she could score if she had to like the season-high 23 points with five three-pointers she had in the Pride’s 44-41 upset of Archbishop Mitty in the CIF Open NorCal semifinals. On a team where the scoring was spread out she was second to Angel Jackson with 8.7 points a game, plus 3.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.1 steals per contest. Edwards was selected for the NorCal Sports TV All NorCal Games.
Kennedy Johnson, Bishop O’Dowd
Super sophomore Johnson held her own against larger opponents as the wing essentially played center and power forward most of the time she was on the floor. She tallied over 14 points and nine rebounds per game, and had particularly big games in the playoffs, taking on an instrumental role in O’Dowd’s NCS and NorCal titles. After a rough December by the team and a mid-season injury, Johnson came back and shone just at the right time. Her ability to maneuver in the post, her quickness, and her developing outside shot made her a challenge to defend.
Ali Bamberger, Carondelet
The Washington-bound NCS Senior of the Year repeats on the First Team after leading the Cougars to a third straight NCS Division I championship and the CIF Northern Regional Open Division semifinals. Bamberger didn’t play in the NorCal Sports TV All NorCal Games because she was in Tampa, Florida at the same time playing in the Pass Tha Ball Who’s Nxt All American game where she was one of the stars of her team’s victory.
Angel Jackson, Salesian
If Jackson repeated as the Prep2Prep Player of the Year it’s pretty obvious that she repeats as a First Team selection as well. The McDonald’s All American and Jordan Brand Classic selection helped lead the Pride along with fellow first-teamer Makayla Edwards to a third straight NCS Division III title and a runner-up in the CIF Northern Regional Open Division playoffs. Jackson was selected for the NorCal Sports TV All NorCal Games.
SECOND TEAM ALL-NCS
Anya Choice, Cardinal Newman
One of the top juniors in Northern California moves up from the Third Team last year after a breakout season in which she averaged 22.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.3 steals a game. Her top effort came in a 71-63 victory against NCS D2 and CIF Northern Regional champion Bishop O’Dowd when she had 35 points to set the Cardinals single-game scoring record.
Zhane Duckett, St. Joseph Notre Dame
Duckett was the lone senior starter on a Pilots team that was a CIF Northern Regional Open Division team and after making P2P NCS Third Team last year she moves up to Second Team this year. This past season on a 22-8 St. Joseph Notre Dame team that had Salesian end their season in the CIF NorCals, Duckett was second on the team in scoring at 10.2 points per game with 3.6 rebounds and steals plus 2.5 assists per contest.
Mia Mastrov, Miramonte
The top player on an underclass-laden Matadors team, Mastrov was edged out this season for NCS Sophomore of the Year by Kennedy Johnson of Bishop O’Dowd whom she got the nod over last season for P2P Freshman of the Year. On a team with four girls averaging over 10 points a game Mastrov, who was Third Team last year, led the way with per game averages of 17.5 points, a team-high 7.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.1 steals per game
Tameiya Sadler, St. Patrick-St. Vincent
There is no question that the 5-8 point guard will be one of the top returning players in the NCS next season after she had a breakout junior year in which despite being a backcourt player she averaged a double-double 17.4 points and 10.1 rebounds with 7.6 assists and 5.7 steals a game. In the Bruins biggest win of the season, a 54-53 win over Salesian in the Tri-County – Rock League playoff title game, Sadler had 23 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Mele Finau, Dublin
If senior guard Mele Finau had any trepidation about leading the Gaels after decorated older sister Lesila graduated last year, she didn’t show it. The younger Finau, who recently played in the NorCal Sports TV All NorCal game, averaged 14.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.1 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game. By the opening tip of the season, she’d already signed on to play next year at Northern Colorado – not far at all from another well-rounded Dublin dynamo – her sister, who plays for Colorado.
Tatyana Modawar, Carondelet
Was an able second fiddle to Ali Bamberger as the Cougars proved too much handle to nearly everyone they encountered. Modawar averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds per game for the season, then tallied 14 points and 11 rebounds in Carondelet’s NCS Division I championship win over Heritage. When it was over, Tatyana had been a part of four straight NCS championship teams. And now she’s headed to the University of Texas at El Paso to continue her career.
Abigail Muse, Heritage
Along with First Team selection Jordan Sweeney the 6-3 center gave the Patriots one of the best inside/out combinations in the North Coast Section. Muse, who is long and lean, but who is beginning to develop more strength, averaged a double-double 14.2 points and 10.0 rebounds a game with 5.6 blocks. Muse also carries a 4.12 GPA and already has major interest from Gonzaga, plus interest from Louisville and Princeton, among others.
THIRD TEAM ALL-NCS
Amaya Bonner, Bishop O’Dowd
Believe it or not it was Bonner that was named the MVP of the West Alameda County – Foothill League and not teammate and First Team Selection Kennedy Johnson, and although we don’t quite see it that way Bonner still receives a Third Team selection and is one of only two freshmen along with Talana Lepolo of St. Joseph Notre Dame, who barely edged her out as NCS Freshman of the Year, to snag a spot on one of the three All NCS teams. On the season she was second to Johnson on the team in scoring and rebounding with 12.8 points and 7.2 rebounds a game.
Avery Cargill, Cardinal Newman
Teammate and Second Team selection Anya Choice may have been the leading scorer on the Cardinals but when they had senior night at Newman to honor the lone senior on the team, the theme was “Ohana” or family and community, it was the perfect theme for the Hawaii-Pacific-bound floor general that was the heart and soul of the Cardinals. On the season Cargill averaged 16.0 points, 5.2 rebounds. 5.1 assists and 2.5 steals a game.
Paige Gerhard, San Ramon Valley
A solid point guard who has led the Wolves to back-to-back EBAL championships and a trip to the NCS semifinals in 2019, Gerhart received All State recognition for her class. The junior contributed 14.5 points, 6.4 assists, and 2.7 steals per game, and shot 51% from the field. She is the key piece in a squad which has amassed 53 victories over the past two campaigns.
Jada Holland, Bishop O'Dowd
The 5’6” point guard defined “captain” in her leadership, unselfishness, defensive tenacity, and confidence. She’ll take her talents to Grand Canyon University. But the best summation happened on the podium stand after O’Dowd fell to Rosary Academy in the Division I State Championship. As head coach Malik McCord began speaking about Holland, he was quickly reduced to tears.
Destiny Jackson, Mt. Eden
The senior compiled averages of 15 points, six rebounds, and seven assists per game and led the Monarchs to a 17-10 record. Coach Chauncey Haynes says of the Monmouth University-commit: “A player that’s willing to do whatever it takes to be successful. I’m going to miss having another coach on the floor next year.” Like many on this list, Jackson participated in the NorCal Sports TV All NorCal game.
Talana Lepolo, St. Joseph Notre Dame
The NCS Freshman of the Year snags a spot on the Third Team as one of only two freshmen along with Amaya Bonner of Bishop O’Dowd to garner All NCS honors. Defense was her specialty but she still managed per game averages of 7.9 points 3.7 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 2.5 steals a game.
Audrey Moulton, California
Junior jack-of-all-trades point guard Moulton was simply outstanding for the Grizzlies. She led the team in virtually every category, recording 16.7 points, 10.8 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 5.3 steals, and 0.8 blocks per game. She had 15 double-doubles and one triple-double in 28 games played. Stats don’t tell the whole story: she put the team on her back emotionally game after game, leading the way to a 22-win season.
Rebecca Welsh, Miramonte
The Matadors had four players average over 10 points a game, and the two girls that did not make an All NCS team, junior Erin Tarasow and sophomore Jordan Allred could easily have been chosen, but we couldn’t chose four Mats players unless they won at least an NCS title. So, the nod goes to Welsh for the Mats second All NCS spot over Tarasow, who was a Third Team selection last year. Welsh had the second best numbers on the team after averaging 13.8 points and 4.0 assists per game, plus she made 102 three-pointers which is second all time for a season in Miramonte. If she stay hot next season Welsh Should break the school record of 298 three-pointers by Sabrina Ionescu.
Kaylee Pond, Lauren Kobashigawa
Dawson Bell, Chiara Brown
Kamryn You Mak
Macy Woodworth, Kylie Chen
Kayla Hankins, Lexi Love
Aysia Dural, Emma Nordby
Erica Miller, Emily Howie
CLAYTON VALLEY CHARTER:
Ysobelle Eustaquio, Katriel Segovia
Tehya Bird, Kayli Persons
Jeanine Rivera, Chanae Montgomery
Hope Alley, Katelyn Jensen
Hannah Webb, Aleah Molina
Paige Ziemann, Kidest Befikadu
Sydney Politzer, Miranda Jacobson
Jordan Allred, Erin Tarasow
MISSION SAN JOSE:
Ashleigh Barr, Trinity Hawkins
Sarah Tait, McKenna Chantha
McKenna Menton-Porter, Kiera Johnson
Jenny Walker, Kylie Horstmeyer
RINCON VALLEY CHRISTIAN:
Beverly Bradley, Tovalemania Tupouata
SAN RAMON VALLEY:
Jasa Sisemore, Emily Gardner
ST. PATRICK-ST. VINCENT:
Alyssa Andrews, Nicole Gleeson
Auxanna Buegre, Niamey Guillory