PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Amy Okonkwo, Etiwanda, Junior, Forward
The first time I saw Amy Okonkwo play this season, I was convinced she was the Player of the Year. Of course, I didn’t see her play until she dropped 27 points on the No. 1 team in the country to lead Etiwanda to a one-point overtime win in the semifinals of the CIF playoffs. Etiwanda’s victory over then-undefeated Santa Ana Mater Dei was certainly the defining moment of the season, but the Eagles had a quarterfinal win over eventual state champion Long Beach Poly and played in the first CIF final in the program’s history, among other accomplishments. It wasn’t a coincidence that this happened in Okonkwo’s first season at Etiwanda.
By all accounts, the junior transfer from Los Osos was just one piece of the puzzle. Her averages of 15.7 points and 9.5 rebounds are modest by some standards. Though the 6-foot-1 forward had range that easily extended beyond the 3-point line, she rarely dominated the ball, taking over only when needed. For example, with Etiwanda trailing by nine, Okonkwo scored 10 of her 27 against Mater Dei in the fourth quarter. By the way, the Eagles graduate just two players in the rotation, neither of which were starters.
COACH OF THE YEAR: Anders Anderson, Etiwanda
The fourth-year head coach not only led the Eagles past the quarterfinal barrier for the first time, but to the first CIF final in school history. Etiwanda beat eventual state champion Long Beach Poly in the quarterfinals of the CIF-SS Division 1AA playoffs, then handed a Santa Ana Mater Dei team ranked No. 1 in the country at the time its first loss of the season in the semifinals. The best season in school history ended with a 28-4 record as Etiwanda fell to Corona Santiago in the CIF championship game and Long Beach Poly in the state tournament.
Yewande Alabi, Diamond Bar, Sr.
The 6-foot-2 Alabi was a first team all-Hacienda League selection. She
averaged 13 points and 16 rebounds per game for the third-place team
in the Hacienda League and broke the school record this season with 29
rebounds in a single game.
Alyssa Anderson, Etiwanda, Jr.
The 6-foot Anderson, a first team all-Baseline League selection, did a
little bit of everything for the CIF-SS Division 1AA finalists,
averaging 9.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, three assists and 2.2 steals per
game for an Etiwanda team that posted a 28-4 overall record in a
Legea Berryhill, Eisenhower, Sr.
The 5-foot-4 first team all-Citrus Belt League selection did it all,
averaging 16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 4.1 steals for an
Eisenhower team that finished third in a deep Citrus Belt League that
included Cajon and Miller.
Taylor Brown, Chino, Jr.
he Mt. Baldy League MVP averaged 22.1 points, 2.9 steals and 2.5
assists per game in leading Chino to a 20-4 overall record and a
second straight league title. The Cowgirls advanced to the second
round of the playoffs, where they lost to eventual CIF champion
Aliyah Dodson, Kaiser, Jr.
This season the Sunkist League MVP led her team to the first league
championship in school history, handing defending CIF champion Summit
its first ever league loss in the process. The 6-foot junior averaged
12.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.6 steals and 2.3 blocks per game.
McKynzie Fort, Etiwanda, Jr.
The 5-foot-9 point guard, a first team all-Baseline League selection,
was a huge reason why Etiwanda had the best season in school history,
averaging 13.1 points and 3.8 assists to help lead the Eagles to the
first ever appearance in the CIF-SS Division 1AA championship game.
Tai Lark, Diamond Ranch, Sr.
The Division 3AAA all-CIF selection led her team to the quarterfinals
of the CIF playoffs in addition to earning first team all-Hacienda
League honors thanks to Diamond Ranch’s second-place finish in league
behind only eventual playoff semifinalist Bonita.
Rachel McCoy, Miller, Sr.
The Division 1A all-CIF senior can play virtually every position on
the floor and led her team in all major statistical categories. The
5-foot-10 McCoy led Miller to a second-place finish in the Citrus Belt
League, a 23-5 overall record and the quarterfinals of the playoffs.
Brittany Neely, Rialto, Sr.
The San Andreas League MVP averaged 24.3 points per game and scored 30
or more points 14 times as the Knights posted a 19-7 overall record
and went undefeated in league on their way to San Andreas League
Nikki Wheatley, Bonita, Jr.
The Hacienda League MVP had a dominant season, breaking the all-time
scoring record at Bonita in the middle of her junior season, leading
the Bearcats to an undefeated run through league play and besting the
No. 2 seed, among others, on the way to the CIF-SS Division 2AA
Ariana Abo, Bonita, Jr.
Lauren Graves, Diamond Ranch, Jr.
Cherice Harris, Etiwanda, Jr.
Dymond Mitchell, San Dimas, Fr.
Jackie Ricketson, Ayala, So.
Jasmine Soto, Kaiser, Sr.
Anna Spykstra, Ontario Christian, So.
Janessa Thropay, Chino Hills, Fr.
Olivia Watkins, Upland, So.
Anissa Walker, Don Lugo, Sr.
Amani Alexander, Rancho Cucamonga, Jr.
Emily Ayala, Chino Hills, So.
Caylee Bock, Eisenhower, Jr.
Jocelyn Briseno, Ganesha, Sr.
Chioma Bush, Summit, So.
Farrah Castillo, Diamond Ranch, Fr.
Kiana Matthews, Rancho Cucamonga, Jr.
Jazzmyn Oliver, Etiwanda, Sr.
Kristi Sakamoto, Ayala, Sr.
Tamara Trigg, Rialto, Fr.
Stephanie Vana, Bonita, Sr.
Priscilla White, Ganesha, Sr.
FINAL TOP 10 RANKINGS
4. Diamond Ranch
9. Chino Hills
Ambassador: Loma Linda
Arrowhead: Sherman Indian
Citrus Belt: Cajon
Montview: City of Industry Workman
Mountain Valley: Jurupa Hills
Mt. Baldy: Chino
Prep: Pasadena Poly
San Andreas: Rialto
Valle Vista: Hacienda Heights Wilson
GAME OF THE YEAR
Etiwanda vs. Santa Ana Mater Dei, CIF-SS Division 1AA Semifinal
Two-time defending state champion Mater Dei entered the game not only undefeated, but ranked No. 1 in the country by MaxPreps.com. Fifth-seeded Etiwanda trailed most of the game, falling behind by 12 in the second half.
The Eagles were down by nine late in the third quarter, but Amy Okonkwo led a charge down the stretch, scoring 10 of her 27 points in the fourth quarter. Etiwanda led by five with a minute to play, but Mater Dei forced overtime with a comeback of its own.
Etiwanda wasn’t to be denied.
Gaby Johnson, who hit an 80-foot shot that was waived off at the third-quarter buzzer, jump-started a 6-0 Etiwanda run in overtime and Mater Dei missed the first of two free throws with seven seconds left to give Etiwanda a historic 73-72 win over the Southern California basketball titan.
The victory earned the Eagles the program’s first appearance in a CIF championship game in school history and eventually merited the team the No. 1 seed in the Division I CIF State tournament.