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West Coast Jamboree All-Girls Tournament West Coast Jamboree All-Girls Tournament
As the West Coast Jamboree nears its 16th running from Dec. 28-30, we take a look at each of the top three divisions.   ... West Coast Jamboree All-Girls Tournament

As the West Coast Jamboree nears its 16th running from Dec. 28-30, we take a look at each of the top three divisions. 

  PLATINUM DIVISION
The marquee division of this year’s West Coast Jamboree does not have as many of the nationally-ranked teams of some years past, but it should be one of the more competitive fields in the 16-year history of the tournament.

The top local teams are defending CIF Division III state champion Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland, and CIF Central Coast Section Open Division champion Sacred Heart Cathedral-San Francisco.

Bishop O’Dowd was ranked No. 10 in the Cal-Hi Sports preseason rankings and is coming off a runner-up finish in the Iolani Classic in Hawaii. The Dragons are led by junior wing Myah Pace. Sacred Heart Cathedral was No. 13 in the preseason rankings and won the Cardinal Newman Classic but since has a loss to a Vanden-Fairfield team that will be one of the Diamond Division favorites. Junior IImar’I Thomas is the top returner for the Irish girls.

Long Beach Poly returns to the Jamboree after last playing in 2010 when it was Platinum Division champions. Ayanna Clark is back at Poly but missed two weeks with a concussion, and the preseason No. 4 Jackrabbits lost in her absence. Coach Carl Buggs will have his team at full strength for the Nike TOC in Phoenix, and then the Jamboree where Clark and her teammates will be one of the favorites.

Another strong favorite will be preseason No. 9 Oaks Christian-Westlake Village. The Lions will be playing in their first Jamboree, and prior to opening against Bishop O’Dowd in the Jamboree, they go into the Nike TOC already owning a loss to a very good Cajon-San Bernardino team. First-year coach Kristy Hopkins leads a team starring Washington State-committed senior Katie Campbell.

A very young Salesian-Richmond (No. 23) team moves up to the Platinum Division after playing in the Gold bracket last year. Coach Stephen Pezzola and his Pride girls are led by USC-bound senior guard Minyon Moore. Preseason No. 22 and CIF Div. IV state runner-up Brookside Christian-Stockton moves up to the Platinum Division after winning the Gold Division last year. The Knights are off to a bit of a rough start against some top-notch teams but they have one of California’s top players in Washington-committed senior point guard Aarion McDonald.

Sacramento is back in the Platinum Division after playing in the Diamond Division last year. Coach Michele Massari has a young team that could start to gel at the Nike TOC and possibly turn some heads at the Jamboree. The Dragons are led by UC Santa Barbara-bound senior Aliceah Hernandez. The only out-of-state team in the Platinum Division is Lynnwood of Bothell, Washington. At press time coach Everett Edwards and his defending Washington 3A state championship girls are the only nationally-ranked team in the field at No. 19 in the Maxpreps Xcellent 25 and are currently No. 2 in Washington after finishing No. 1 last season.

  “” Harold Abend

  DIAMOND DIVISION
Hosted at Bentley High in Lafayette, the Diamond Division has eight strong teams with good guard players and post presences.

Vanden-Fairfield has star power at the top of its roster, including Utah-bound point guard Kiana Moore and nationally-ranked junior Julia Blackshell-Fair. It also brings back senior guard Brittany Livingston, who is bound for Stanislaus State. The Vikings were ranked No. 4 in NorCalPreps.com’s NorCal rankings at press time and were the NorCal Division III runner-ups in 2015.

St. Mary’s-Berkeley has a new head coach this season in long time assistant Samuel Sims. The Panthers bring back post Layla Ybarra-Harvey, who is headed to UC San Diego, and junior guard Carolyn Gill. They have been a participant in the CIF Open Division state playoffs each of the last three years, earning at least one regional win in two of those three years.

Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa is emerging as a NorCal power after reaching the NorCal Division IV semifinals in just its fourth year of being a co-ed school. The Cardinals have a pair of talented junior posts in Hailey Vice-Nice and Lauren Walker. Sophomore Maiya Flores and freshman Avery Cargill are also players to watch.

Carondelet-Concord features a balanced group as coach Elgin Leslie begins his second season, but keep a look out for guard Vanessa Cruz and talented sophomore Maaeva Dwiggins. Carondelet was 3-0 at press time with an early season win over Berkeley.

McClatchy-Sacramento, the defending CIF Div. I state champions, are without Washington-bound power forward Gigi Garcia due to injury. However, the Lions have one of the top juniors in Northern California in Jordan Cruz. Also from Sacramento, Inderkum is coming off a 24-win season and boasts senior point guard Kaliya Griffin who has signed to Tennessee State.

Coming up from Southern California is CIF Div. III state runner-up Brea-Olinda and Palisades-Pacific Palisades. Reili Richardson is the lone senior for Brea-Olinda and is signed to Arizona State. She is ranked No. 46 nationally by ESPN. Another player to watch for the Ladycats is Tyiona Watkins. Palisades is coming off back-to-back seasons of at least 20 wins, including a Los Angeles City Section title last season. The title bumped them up to the Southern California Open Division bracket.

A Bay Area matchup seen in the past (Carondelet-St. Mary’s Berkeley) highlights the first day of action.

  “” Doug Benton

  GOLD DIVISION
This division, hosted at Las Positas College, brings teams from the Greater Sacramento Area, the Bay Area, Southern California and Nevada.

Antelope returns all but one player from last year’s team, which won 27 games. Players to watch for the Titans are guards Angelica Baylon, Nia Johnson and Nadia Johnson. Also watch for 6-foot freshman Arianna Spann to give Antelope some needed size.

West Campus-Sacramento will bring two Division I prospects in the backcourt to the Jamboree. Junior Namiko Adams is one of the top guards regionally in her class while sophomore Kiara Jefferson is one of the top sophomore point guards in the country. Elk Grove is 2-1 as of press time and boast an under-the-radar junior who is quickly becoming known in Mira Shulman. She is a three-year varsity player averaging nearly 20 points per game this season.

Pittsburg took the Bay Valley Athletic League title last year in a league usually controlled by Deer Valley-Antioch and Heritage-Brentwood, two teams which will both be in the Gold Division. Linsey Bailey is the new head coach for the Wolverines after Mark Hurtado took over the boys program. Heritage also has a new coach in Rob Ocon, who is taking over for Dan Swan. The Patriots will boast a young squad with just three seniors on the opening roster.

Oakland Tech has a new head coach this year in Leroy Hurt, which has just two seniors on the roster. Hurt runs the very competitive CA Ballaz club program.

Bishop Manogue-Reno (Nev.) welcomes in new head coach Carlnel Wiley, who is taking over for Craig Holt. Last year, the Miners reached the finals of the Diamond Division before falling to Carondelet. They are led by Hannah Bingham, Malia Holt and Tawni Hamilton, but graduated current Cal Poly player Breezi Holt. Narbonne-Harbor City has just one senior on the roster as it looks for its seventh straight season of at least 22 wins. The two out of area programs meet in the first round with the winner potentially meeting Antelope in the championship game.

  “” Doug Benton

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