PREP BASKETBALL: Girls’ basketball programs have sights set on playoffs

December 14, 2017

When it comes to girls’ prep basketball, many Southern California teams are on the national radar, sending players to various four-year universities

The girls’ basketball season began last month and many teams are serving notice that they are contending for various slots in the L.A. City and Southern Section playoffs, with several teams making plans to extend their seasons to the state playoffs, which begin March 7.

Here is a selected list of local teams that are expected to contend for the playoffs, listed in no particular order.

Windward: Coached by Vanessa Nygaard, the defending CIF Division I state champions are preparing to defend their title on the shoulders of Charisma Osborne and a deep, talented lineup, including Elyse Shepherd, Kamil English, Sela Kay and Selena McLurkin.

Serra: Coached by McKinsey Hadley, the Cavaliers are working hard to make another deep postseason run. Serra is led by Alexis Tucker, Cheyenne Givens, Rachel Duru, Lauryn Pointer, Dashelle Gleissner, Delauna Thomas and Ivori Scott.

Westchester: Coached by Dominic Grimes, the Comets appear to have the ingredients to defend their L.A. City Division I title. Westchester’s key players include Jalynn Gray, Destiny Brown, Diana Gaitan, Cheyanne Whitfield and Justice Walters.

Torres: Coached by Walter O’ Neal Jr., the Toros will try to defend their L.A. City Division III title behind a veteran lineup that includes Gabriella Perez, Juana Rodriguez, Emily De La Cruz, Jackeline Estrada, Kyra Juarez and Evelyn Salas.

Animo Jackie Robinson: Coached by Jose Ramos, the Monarchs will try to build momentum on their success from last season, when they finished 23-5, reaching the L.A. City Section semifinals. Animo Robinson returns several talented players.

Fairfax: Coached by Charles Harrell, the Lions are on a mission to defend their L.A. City Section Open Division championship behind the leadership of Dawnyel Lair, Chassen Gutierrez, Jori Haleakala-Denson, Diara McBroom and Jaedyn Evans.

Leuzinger: Coached by Bo Corona, the Olympians, who knocked on the door to the state Division III regional semifinals, are working on their blueprint to make a return trip. Leuzinger’s key players include Machari Johnson, D’Arrah Allen, Valisa Millhouse, Precious Onwuka and Brianea Gatewood.

Downey: Coached by Nate Harris, the Vikings have designs on advancing past the Southern Section 2-A quarterfinals, where their 2016-17 season ended abruptly. This season, Downey hopes that Pricilla Arencibia, Surie Camacho, Ilani Avila and Rachel Spinosa and its talented bench can help them do that and more.

LATE ADD: Here is a local boys’ team that was recently added to the list featured in last week’s edition.

Executive Prep Academy: Coached by Cedric Jones, the Bulls are off to a solid start with a talented lineup that includes Travon Kiner, Cameron Denson, Kobe Craig, Isaiah Banks and Aaron Fields. Jones, who learned about winning as a standout point guard at Manual Arts under coaches Reggie Morris and Randolph Simpson, helped lead the Toilers to the CIF State Division I championship in 1988.


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