Vanessa Nygaard, the girls basketball coach at Windward, has the No. 1 player in California in Charisma Osborne, a UCLA signee who last season led the Wildcats to the triple crown — the Southern Section, regional and state Open Division championships.
You’d think Nygaard would be sleeping quite well knowing it’s the opposing teams that must figure out how to stop Osborne, a 5-foot-9 senior with the skills to score, rebound, make assists and play defense.
Yet it’s Nygaard who is tossing and turning because she knows Windward must be prepared for anything teams will be devising.
“She’s a great player and keeps adding to her game and accepting new challenges,” Nygaard said. “I think I stay up most of the night pretending how I would prepare for her. They’ve thrown a lot of things at Charisma and there’s no end to the possibilities.”
Torrance Bishop Montgomery had no problem last week, getting 30 points from Kayla Williams in a 61-57 win over Windward. Osborne finished with 29 points.
The good news is that Osborne and company are just getting started. In Windward’s season opener, the Wildcats went on a 22-0 run to start the game en route to a 62-42 victory over Fullerton Troy. Osborne had 19 points. In a rematch of last year’s Southern Section Open Division final, she scored 30 points in a 73-43 win over Studio City Harvard-Westlake. The Wildcats also defeated Redondo 56-54 when Osborne had to sit out because of an ankle injury.
It should be another strong season in Southern California girls basketball, with half of the players from last year’s Times’ All-Star team returning. They include 6-2 sophomore Brooke Demetre of Santa Ana Mater Dei, 5-4 junior Alyssa Munn of Redondo, 5-9 senior Kayla Padilla of Bishop Montgomery and 5-11 senior Alexis Tucker of Gardena Serra.
Windward is still the team to beat. Junior McKayla Williams and senior Kaiyah Corona, a Dartmouth commit, return to join Osborne. The Wildcats will also add Beverly Hills transfer Michelle Duchemin when she becomes eligible in December.
Bishop Montgomery won the Battle of the Beach tournament on Saturday night behind Kayla Williams. Mater Dei, Chatsworth Sierra Canyon and Etiwanda also should be factors. Mater Dei coach Kevin Kiernan started the season on the sideline recovering from hip surgery.
The best game figures to be Windward at Sierra Canyon on Jan. 15.
There’s a super sophomore class, including 6-3 Rayah Marshall of Lynwood, who came close to dunking in a game earlier this week.
In the City Section, Granada Hills is the preseason favorite with the return of 6-2 junior Haylee Aiden and 5-7 Hayley Berfield, the Highlanders’ leading scorer.
Bring on De La Salle: Because of the wildfires in Northern California, section football play won’t be finished until this coming weekend, but it’s pretty clear Concord De La Salle is the likely opponent for Santa Ana Mater Dei in the Dec. 8 CIF state championship Open Division bowl game at Cerritos College.
Big tournament: No. 2 Temecula Rancho Christian, No. 7 Corona Centennial, No. 11 Etiwanda, No. 18 Moreno Valley Rancho Verde, No. 19 Orange Lutheran and No. 21 Chino Hills are all playing this week at Centennial in a boys basketball tournament.