In girl’s basketball there’s a rule of thumb about the constant traffic in transfer rumors: Believe them when you see the girl going to class at the school she’s supposedly going to attend. In the case of Sierra Smith, a starting guard for national-power St. Mary’s-Stockton last year, there’s no reason to doubt “” she’s attending classes at Salesian-Richmond, where she will have an immediate impact on a program looking to replace USC-bound Minyon Moore.
There are rumblings about other changes, maybe even major changes at St. Mary’s, but it’s one thing to hear something through the grapevine and another for it to actually be true.
Still, we have to report this one that’s making the rounds: Nia and Nadia Johnson may be taking their nearly 26 points, nine rebounds and six assists from Antelope (29-3 last year) to West Campus-Sacramento (25-8 last year). That would certainly shift the balance of power in the Sacramento area.
DIVISIONAL DANCE IN GIRL’S BASKETBALL
The new North Coast Section system that places teams in divisions only by recent performance in NCS postseason and not by enrollment has created a traffic jam in Division III. Although Miramonte-Orinda was bumped to Division II by the formula, Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland stayed down because it was disqualified from NCS two years ago when the Dragons played one too many games. At the same time, Salesian and St. Mary’s-Berkeley both were moved up to Div. III, joining Campolindo-Moraga.
That’s a pretty powerful quartet, but don’t be surprised if O’Dowd thinks about using the appeal process to try to jump into Division II. After all, Miramonte suffered serious graduation losses, so right now NCS Div. II looks like an easier ride than Div. III.
But of course, you never know. It only takes a player or two to change the landscape dramatically. That Sabrina Ionescu girl had a pretty big impact at Miramonte, and when she was an incoming freshman, nobody really knew who she was.
Also of note, the new rule sends St. Joseph Notre Dame-Alameda to Div. IV, opening some doors in Div. V. Yet at the same time, SJND is shifting to the Bay Counties League-East, where it will crush most of those teams, which will hardly prepare the Pilots for a tougher postseason.
GIRL’S BASKETBALL COACHING CAROUSEL
As always, lots of changes. The biggest move comes in Alameda, where long-time Alameda coach Brad Thomas is stepping down. He’s been at it for 35 years, and wants to take a break “” but he’s leaving the door open down the road.
Ashley Valenzuela, meanwhile, moves from Kennedy-Fremont, where she tried to rebuild a moribund program, to Acalanes-Lafayette, which has won 44 games in the past two seasons and qualified for NorCals.
Anthony Matthews put together a powerhouse at McNair-Stockton (a team led by Mandy Coleman, now at Oklahoma State) and then moved on to the JC level. But now he’s back in the high school ranks at Bear Creek-Stockton, and expect good things “” Bear Creek won 19 games last year and the top three scorers were freshmen.
WEST COAST JAMBOREE
The biggest tournament in the country is filling fast. Half of the 128 slots for the Dec. 28-30 East Bay event are already accounted for, well ahead of last year’s pace. The Jamboree is also adding a one-day WCJ Challenge on Dec. 27 that will match selected teams in single games that won’t affect the bracket or division champions. It’s designed for teams that want to get an extra game to make the trip more worthwhile, and also for teams from sections that give teams a scheduling break for playing in tournaments.