ALL-CENTRAL COAST SECTION
Player of the Year
KIRAN KRUSE, BELLARMINE
The training wheels came off this year for Kiran Kruse, and as the Bellarmine senior ascended the ranks from supporting player to stardom, he proved that he was ready for the big-time, battling through injuries to cap off a remarkable career.
After thriving behind the scenes for years while Jake Wojcik led the Bells, Kruse was the focal point of every opponent throughout his senior season, a year in which he managed to lead his team to a third-place finish in the WCAL and a fourth straight CCS Open Division Championship appearance, even with his supporting cast from prior years having departed.
As a result of his outstanding performance, Kruse has been selected as the Prep2Prep CCS Player of the Year.
"I'm extremely honored," said Kruse. "I know there are a lot of really high-level players in CCS, so it really means a lot to close out my high school career on this note."
Perhaps most impressive was that the Claremont-McKenna commit did it all while battling serious ankle injuries that slowed him in the second half of league play and into the postseason. Even so, he still managed to average 16 points, six rebounds and four assists, leading a young and inexperienced team with his steady hand and calm yet intense demeanor.
The wear and tear from his injuries was clear throughout the season as his ankle required more and more tape, yet he was able to hang on and keep producing the entire way. Even at less than full strength, his production was indispensable. He did miss one game, Bellarmine’s second WCAL contest, and when their leader was out with the flu, the Bells managed just 38 points in a loss to Sacred Heart Cathedral. With the nagging ankle problems as the season continued, Kruse seemed to somehow only get better, scoring 23 in an overtime loss to Serra. On Senior Night, he put up 21 points in a win over Mitty, a game in which only pride was on the line as the league title had been completely wrapped up.
Though the Bells lost in the CCS Open Division Championship and were bounced in a double overtime heartbreaker by Moreau Catholic in the first round of the CIF Division I Tournament, Kruse finished his career strong, scoring 23 in the loss to Moreau, including a steal and layup to tie the game and force a second OT.
His career will continue at Claremont-McKenna, where he has a legitimate shot to become one of the top Division III players in the nation. Kruse has skillfully handled bigger and stronger opponents throughout his career, so it should be reasonable to expect he’ll take care of the competition in the Los Angeles area at the next level.
Coach of the Year
MIKE MOLIERI, MENLO-ATHERTON
Menlo-Atherton's Mike Molieri is the Prep2Prep CCS Coach of the Year.
The Menlo-Atherton Bears have been a perennial contender under head coach Mike Molieri, and the run they put together in 2019 was one of their best during his tenure, especially considering that they had a roster that most coaches would have struggled with.
M-A became the second public school to win a game in the CCS Open Division, became the third team to sweep the PAL regular season and tournament since the league expanded its schedule before the 2012-13 season and won 24 games, the second-most since Molieri took over before that 2012-13 campaign. While the talent on the Bears’ roster was apparent, few coaches would have been able to get so much success out of such an undersized team, without a player over 6-foot-3 on the roster.
What made the Bears so effective was their style, combining team defense with selfless passing on offense. No player averaged over 15 points per game for M-A, but with a variety of players able to chip in and a defense that allowed just 46.3 points per game on the season, it was not only an efficient style of play but an aesthetically pleasing team, one that even earned the approval of Barry Bonds, a close friend of Molieri’s brother, Dan. Bonds was in attendance at M-A’s CCS Open Division Quarterfinal win over Serra, his alma mater, and told Molieri after the game that he loved the style with which his team played.
“I think what made us most successful was his focus on team defense,” said Will Beasley, who played for three years under Molieri. “We would spend a lot of time during practices working on being aggressive and he held us to a high standard.”
While most juggernaut teams have lapses over the course of the season, falling into trap games and occasionally playing down to competition, such bumps in the road were incredibly rare for the Bears, who only played four league games within 15 points and had three end with a running clock, plus a fourth in a PAL Semifinal win over Terra Nova. No game was too big or too small for the Bears, who played a fearless game and only lost by more than 10 points once, a 69-53 defeat to powerhouse Clovis West in the CIF Division I Tournament, a tremendously difficult draw for the Bears. Their seeding in the state tournament was a double-edged sword of sorts, a recognition of their achievements and a sign of respect but also a tremendous challenge against a monster team.
Even with two key pieces, point guard Justin Anderson and athletic sophomore Skyler Thomas, playing football well into December, the Bears got off to an impressive start, losing to eventual NorCal champion Logan by just six, Bellarmine by just ten and WCAL champion Mitty by a single point without the two instrumental pieces. After they joined the roster, M-A went nearly two and a half months without another loss, winning 20 in a row before finally falling to Sacred Heart Cathedral in the CCS Open Division Semifinals.
“He’s willing to be flexible with offensive strategies,” Beasley said of Molieri. “In my three years, our offense has been different every year to accommodate different players.”
No matter who was on the floor, Molieri was able to keep his team playing the same composed and refined style, rotating in a mix of sophomores, juniors and seniors. While the 2018-19 Bears had special chemistry, with Molieri and his assistants establishing a strong culture and system, there’s plenty of reason to expect that the pipeline will keep churning out impressive results for years to come. There’s been a great sense of continuity at Menlo-Atherton ever since Molieri took over, aided by his emphasis on communication.
“By the end of the year, our team was like a family,” Beasley said. “He wanted to connect with us and get to know us.”
Other coaches considered for this award include Mitty’s Tim Kennedy and Sacred Heart Cathedral’s Sean MacKay.
FIRST TEAM ALL-CCS
Je’Lani Clark, Archbishop Riordan
Clark averaged 15.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and two steals per night for a Crusaders team that doubled its WCAL win total from the prior two years. Transitioning from point guard to shooting guard, Clark made the most of his opportunities, shooting 58 percent on two-pointers and 35 percent on threes.
Marcus Greene, Archbishop Mitty
Greene averaged 14.2 points per game and willed the Monarchs to a WCAL championship with clutch shooting, hitting four game-winning threes in the final minute. In Mitty’s 75-71 win over Riordan on February 5, he hit the last of those go-ahead 3-pointers, capping off a career-high 25-point performance and a night on which he made five of his eight 3-point attempts.
Cade Rees, Serra
Rees made his lone year of varsity basketball count, averaging 18.1 points per game in WCAL play. He made 24 straight free throws during one stretch in January and put up a 21-point, 17-rebound performance on Senior Night against Mitty. In an overtime win at Bellarmine on February 5, he scored eight points in the fourth quarter and had all seven for the Padres in overtime, including a game-winning baseline layup in the final seconds.
Devan Sapp, Archbishop Mitty
Sapp was named the WCAL MVP, averaging 18.2 points per game over the course of his entire junior season. He scored 31 in a win over a St. Ignatius team that had given the Monarchs fits for much of the last three years and established himself as a top rebounder on a team challenged for size, pulling down 6.4 boards per game.
Sam Tobin, Mountain View
Tobin averaged 19.4 points per game and led the Spartans to their second CCS title in three years. He scored 31 in a win over Palo Alto that helped pave the way to an SCVAL De Anza title and dropped 30 in a double-overtime win over Aragon in the CCS semifinals. He plans to study mechanical engineering at Wisconsin.
SECOND TEAM ALL-CCS
Mohammed Adam, Monterey
Not only did Adam hit the game-winning three in the final seconds to win a Northern California Division III Semifinal for Monterey, he averaged 18 points, six rebounds and five assists as a senior to cap off a remarkable run as a three-year starter. He scored 29 twice on the year, beating Elliot Christian in early December and then doing it again to defeat Manteca in the first round of the state tournament. Considering his dominance over opponents from the Central Valley, he should be quite comfortable as he continues his career at Fresno City College.
Justin Anderson, Menlo-Atherton
A tenacious defender known for his prowess as a defensive back on M-A’s state championship football team, Anderson showed no signs of rust when he got onto the basketball court in late December, establishing himself as a nightly triple-double threat on one of the best public school teams the CCS has seen this decade.
Neal Begovich, St. Ignatius
Set to play at Stanford as a preferred walk-on, Begovich could quickly earn himself a scholarship considering the production he put up when he became fully healthy for his senior year. He posted a double-double in the Bruce-Mahoney Game, which SI claimed for the fourth straight year, and put up double-doubles in wins over Mitty and Riordan, the WCAL’s top two teams.
Parker McDonald, Serra
McDonald posted at least 19 points six times in WCAL play, including 24 of his team’s 48 points as the Padres posted the largest comeback in Jungle Game history to beat St. Ignatius after trailing by as much as 21 in the first half. He also put up 21 in his final game against Bellarmine as the Padres claimed an overtime win over a team that they hadn’t beaten since McDonald was a freshman. He plans to study at Indiana, though his basketball career may be finished. If it’s over, he went out with a bang, leading Serra all the way into the Division II Northern California Championship Game.
Bryce Monroe, Archbishop Riordan
With 17.7 points per game, including 28 in a road win over St. Ignatius and 22 against Serra to close the season, Monroe impressed throughout his junior year, earning him offers from Boston University, Cal Poly, New Mexico State, Sam Houston State and UC Santa Barbara.
THIRD TEAM ALL-CCS
JT Byrne, Carmel
Byrne averaged 19.3 points and 10 rebounds per game as a sophomore while continuing to establish himself as an all-around star who also thrives on the football field and baseball diamond. He helped lead the Padres to their first-ever CCS basketball title while facilitating play from the post.
Wrenn Robinson, St. Ignatius
Robinson transitioned from being a shooting guard surrounded by excellent upperclassmen to being the star of the backcourt in his senior year, moving from a catch-and-shoot role to creating shots for himself. He willed the Wildcats to an overtime win at Valley Christian after trailing by eight with 90 seconds left, scoring a career-high 35 in the victory.
Colby Vazquez, Mills
Vazquez averaged 17 points per game as a senior and was so thoroughly impressive that he was named PAL South MVP despite his Vikings finishing in fifth place. He scored 34 in a win over Capuchino and plans to continue his career at Skyline College.
Sebastian Reynoso, Josue Gil-Silva
Hunter Matys, Max Pepperdine
Zach DeZee, Kai Lee
EASTSIDE COLLEGE PREP:
Isaiah Saams-Hoy, Raymond Reece
HALF MOON BAY:
Malachi Mitchell, Noah Short
Sohan Kshirsagar, Shane McKnight
MONTE VISTA CHRISTIAN:
NORTH MONTEREY COUNTY:
Josh Cryns, Jack Sendell
Matt Marzano, Marvin Zou
SACRED HEART CATHEDRAL:
Cedric Reed, Jr.
SACRED HEART PREP:
Robert Bishop, Zavier Kemp-Hill
Shane Reilly, Max Walters
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO:
ST. FRANCIS SCP:
John Loyd Aguas