Quartet of local girls' basketball players receive All-CIF honors

Courtney Chen and Maya Okamoto brought the same dynamics to their respective teams throughout the season.

Both provided stability and leadership in helping their squads advance to the semifinals in their respective divisions.

For their bodies of work, Chen and Okamoto picked up All-CIF Southern Section first-team honors. The CIF Southern Section office unveiled the first teams for all 12 divisions Monday.

Chen, a junior point guard for La Cañada High, earned a spot on the Division III-A team, Okamoto, a junior guard at Flintridge Prep, was named to the Division V-AA team.

Chen, who missed the first part of the season because of back spasms and a pinched nerve, was bestowed with the honors for the second straight season. She averaged 14.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.4 steals and 3.3 assists per game this season for the Spartans. La Cañada went 20-9, 9-1 for first place in the Rio Hondo League.

“To get this honor for a second straight year is great,” La Cañada Coach Tamar Hill said. “She just went out there and made everybody better.

“She was able to elevate the play of everybody else. Courtney always practices hard and plays the game at full speed.”

Okamoto proved to be the go-to player for the Rebels. Flintridge Prep finished 19-10 and 9-3 in the Prep league for second place.

Okamoto averaged 8.9 points per game. She registered 56 steals and a team-high 46 assists.
“The main thing with Maya was her bringing leadership to the team,” Flintridge Prep co-Coach Kevin Kiyomura said. “When teams looked at us, they had to have a game plan against Maya.
“She learned multiple ways to help the team win. She could do it by scoring and by getting everybody involved by distributing the ball. It’s comforting knowing we have her coming back next year.”

La Cañada freshman center Amber Graves was selected to the second team. Graves averaged 6.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per contest. She finished with 137 rebounds and blocked 16 shots.
Flintridge Prep freshman guard Tala Ismail was also named to the second team. Ismail averaged a team-high 11.3 points and 3.3 steals per game. She finished with 134 rebounds, 45 assists and a team-best 92 steals.

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