NorCal Lands Late July End Of Trail NCAA Viewing Event •
Story By HAROLD ABEND | Photo by SAMUEL STRINGER
The historic End of the Trail that connected the Missouri River to Oregon City, and was explored by Lewis and Clark, has a new twist.
The long-standing End of the Trail National Showcase girls basketball summer tournament held the first week of the first half of the NCAA viewing period in Oregon City, Oregon, is branching out to Northern California with the EOT Bay Area Ultimate Challenge in the second half of the viewing period.
The NCAA summer viewing period for Division 1 coaches is actually broken into five parts with most of the top teams playing in four tournaments. Several major tournaments, including the EOT National Showcase are held at varying locations from July 6-9. A second set of tournaments runs from July 10-12. There is a dark period where the teams and girls come home before resuming on a third set of tournaments between July 23-26, and then a final group that goes in the timeframe of July 27-29.
For the EOT Bay Area Ultimate Challenge, three divisions with over 80 teams will converge on the Ultimate Fieldhouse in Walnut Creek from July 23-25. The NCAA-certified event will attract Division I college coaches from throughout the nation who are allowed to view and evaluate, but not talk to or attempt to recruit the girls during the viewing period.
Many of the teams that play in the Oregon City event are making the trip south so the event will have a Pacific Northwest flavor with many teams from Oregon and Washington, plus teams from Alaska, Nevada and Utah.
Northern California will be represented by teams from the Bay Area and the Sac-Joaquin region with three of the Bay Area’s top teams highlighting the local girls.
Cal Stars has nine teams participating (three in each division) and its Nike Elite-EYBL (Elite Youth Basketball League) will be the overwhelming favorite in the top division with two of the top players in the state and nation gracing the roster of coach Kelly Sopak.
St. Mary’s-Stockton senior and Cal-Hi Sports State Junior of the Year Aquira DeCosta is on the Nike Elite team. She was the MVP of the USA Basketball Women’s 3×3 U18 World Cup team that won a Gold Medal in early July in Chengdu, China. Another big star on Nike Elite is the Cal-Hi Sports State Sophomore of the Year, junior Haley Jones of Archbishop Mitty-San Jose, pictured right. Jones was recently among 18 finalists for the 16U National Team.
The entire 13-girl roster of Nike Elite is a group of superstars, but some other girls that have shined in early July are Pinewood-Los Altos Hills junior Hannah Jump, Miramonte-Orinda senior Clair Steele, and St. Mary’s-Stockton senior Neenah Young (pictured above).
The Orinda Magic will have both its Black and Blue teams competing in Walnut Creek. The Black team is coached by Stephen Pezzola, who also is the head coach at Salesian-Richmond.
The Black team is led by Salesian 6-5 junior post Angel Jackson. She has been turning heads this summer with her improved play. Salesian senior Taimane Lesa-Hardee has had a good start in her first viewing period performances as have Salesian junior Makayla Edwards and senior Sydni Stewart.
Archbishop Mitty coach Sue Phillips will have her San Jose Cagers Blue and White teams at the EOT Bay Area Ultimate Challenge, with the Blue team the third of the elite Bay Area teams competing at the Ultimate Fieldhouse.
Three Mitty seniors lead the Blue team. Karisma Ortiz is the top player; University of San Diego commit and senior post Nicole Blakes leads the team in rebounds, blocks and steals, and Krissy Miyahara has been shooting 45 percent from beyond the arc.
Spectators are welcome and this is a chance to see some of the top girls basketball players on the West Coast in action.