Southern California girls’ basketball teams to watch this season
Five teams to watch (in no particular order):
1. Santa Ana Mater Dei. The defending state Division I champion may have lost Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis to Connecticut, but the Monarchs are still expected to be one of the best teams in the nation. They return USC-bound senior Jordan Adams, a versatile 6-foot-1 point guard, and have added UCLA-bound senior guard Nirra Fields to their roster, though she is currently ineligible pending a hardship waiver from the Southern Section.
2. Los Angeles Windward. All five starters are returning to the state Division 4 championship team, including 6-7 Texas-bound senior Imani Stafford, talented sophomore guard Jordin Canada and three-point-shooting specialist Courtney Jaco. The Wildcats also have skilled forwards Kristen Simon and Paris Baird, who are both 6-1.
3. Long Beach Poly. The Jackrabbits don’t have a player who is taller than 5-11, but what they lack in size, this 17-player deep team makes up for in strength and speed. They are led by powerful 5-foot-10 senior forward Destiny King. Sophomore Arica Carter will take over at point guard for a graduated Ariya Crook-Williams (USC).
4. Huntington Beach Edison. Even though the Chargers graduated superstar athlete and scholar Bonnie Samuelson, the team has great talent in her sisters, junior point guard Karlie and 6-2 freshman wing Katie Lou. Last season, the Chargers won the Southern Section Division IA championship and this season they are expected to make a similar impact.
5. Brea Olinda. The Wildcats have a new coach in Kim Cram-Torres and will be rebuilding after graduating Justine Hartman (California) and Alexis Perry (UCLA) and losing Jeanier Olukemi to a transfer, but expect the Wildcats to have a solid team led by 5-11 Pepperdine-bound senior Keitra Wallace and senior guard Taylor Spears.
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