April 20th & 21st, 2012
Redondo Beach, CA –
USJN’s 4th Annual California Classic proved to be a great warm up for July recruiting. Cal Swish (CA), Jam On It (NV) and the Spokane Sandpipers (WA) dominated pool play in this competitive round robin event. The Classic displayed a variety of next level performers ranging from solid division 2 pick-ups to some of the best players in the country.
The Friday early evening session belonged to the youngsters of the California Classis at Redondo Union HS. The first and best game of the evening was a competitive battle between the Spokane Sandpipers 17 and the Cal Swish Black. Both teams were lead by 2015 rising stars Katie Samuelson (CA), Laura Stockton (WA) and Otiona Gildon (WA). Samuelson again proved herself worthy of the family legacy by dropping several quick 3-point shots. She also showed another dimension to her game by attacking the rim with counter moves, drawing contact for trips to the free throw line. Newcomers to the circuit spotlight, Stockton and Gildon, ran the pick and roll beautifully as there were flash backs of the old school resurfacing into the AAU circuit. Stockton is a college coach’s dream, even as a youngster, pushing tempo, making the right decision and knowing when to take her shot. Gildon will be a force in the Northwest region with her strength, athleticism and work ethic. She knows how to score around the rim!
On Saturday, rising seniors and juniors had the opportunity to shine. The most impressive display at the guard position was ’14 Gabby Williams of Jam On It (NV). Her length, 5’9, and athleticism alone will catch your eye. But she also has the skills to go with it. Playing the point guard and guard position, Williams’ basketball IQ puts her teammates in scoring positions. And when it’s time for her to score, she does with ease, driving gaps to the rim and knocking down short pull-ups.
Other talented upperclassmen included the Swishes (CA) 6’1 ’13 Baylie McClard and Next Level (CA) 6’1 ‘13 Tatianna Howard. While close in height, each has very different skills. McClard, a knock down 3-point shooter, has a diverse game where she could play the guard or forward position at the next level. Howard is a true forward and can leap out of the gym. She finished so high on the glass and close to the rim; she will be hard to stop once her 12-foot game develops.
NWP’s (Noteworthy Players)
Simone Decoud * 2013 * 5’7 * PG * MOC 17 (CA)
Karli Samuelson * 2013 * 6’0 * G/F * Swish Black 17 (CA)
Delane Junkermier * 2014 * 5’11 * G * Sandpipers 17 (WA)
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April 21st & 22nd, 2012
Santa Ana, CA –
While many elite teams left the west for the Hamptons, there were significant players that decided to stay home this April weekend for the Michael T. White Tournament of Champions at Mater Dei High School. And being at Mater Dei, the Mecca of Southern California girls high school basketball, it was only right to see the 17 Elite Division Championship come down to free throws.
You knew it was going to be a game when Sparks (CA) ’13 Erica McCall attempted to dunk in warm ups.
Team Concept Heat (OR) and Cal Sparks Gold (CA) was the most anticipated match up since the brackets were released early this week. The game started with the Sparks providing great energy and confidence, especially ’13 Courtney Jaco. Jaco went off, knocking 3 of 4 three pointers to start the game and giving the Sparks a 14-3 lead early in the first half. Jaco never cooled off and ended the game with 26 points, going 7 of 9 from beyond the arc.
TC would climb back into the game later into the first half with significant rebounds and “and 1’s” from ’13 Kailee Johnson. Dakota & Dylan Gonzalez (‘13) also provided much needed offense for TC knocking down 4 shots in a row late in the half. Johnson would lead Team Concept with 24 points.
In the 2nd half, both teams settled into their defensive rhythms, forcing several turnovers and fast break opportunities. The Sparks fed off the consistent play of ’14 Lajahna Drummer grabbing rebound after rebound and challenging Russell & Johnson on the offensive end. But every game will come down to point guard play. The control and tempo of the last eight minutes was owned by the Sparks ’14 Jordin Canada. Going 1-4 low and giving her room to “do work” from the top of the key, Canada lead the Sparks down the stretch with lay ups, short jumpers and free throws.
In TC’s final 3-point attempt to tie the game, ‘13 Jordan Reynolds was fouled with .4 on the clock and the opportunity to send the game to sudden death with 3 free throws. Hitting the first, missing the second and hitting the third, the game ended 58-57.
SPARK PLUG – Ask Elbert Kinnebrew after any game who his missing link was from last year and without hesitation he’ll say, “Siera Thompson.” Kinnebrew describes her game as “smooth and calming . . . she is true point guard.” The Sparks coach is dead on, after watching her propel her team to a 14 point first half lead against Team Concept on Sunday. She did an outstanding job of breaking pressure, getting into the paint and taking a short jumper or a smart dish through help side rotations. She made adjustments in her shot selection and found ways to attack each defender to create for a teammate. Every team needs a great point guard and the Sparks have two!
NWP’s (Noteworthy Players)
Allie Green * 2013 * 5’10 * PG/G * Cal Sparks NorCal Black (CA)
Briana Ruiz * 2013 * 5’11 * G * Cal Sparks NorCal Black (CA)
Mikayla Cowling * 2014 * 6’1 * G EBX I (CA)
Lexi Bando * 2013 * 5’9 * PG/G * Team Concept Heat (OR)
Kelsey Plum * 2013 * PG * 5’8 * Wiggins Waves (CA)
An Indiana native, Amy has been an assistant at Arizona State, South Florida, Cleveland State, & Western Kentucky being a part of multiple post season & conference championships. Her college coaching career followed a playing career where she graduated as the all-time leader in assists at the University of Arkansas leading the Razorbacks to the post season all four years under Gary Blair.