TRIBUNE GIRLS BASKETBALL ALL-AREA
Player of the Year: Brittany Wang, South Hills, Senior
Going into her senior season South Hills’ Brittany Wang had goals of becoming a complete player along with becoming a vocal leader on a squad that had talent, but always didn’t see eye-to-eye on things.
“(On paper) we knew we had a good team,” Wang said. “There were some ups and downs, no doubt about that, but when we needed to come together, everyone came together, including our (fans), and that’s why we had the season we did. It was something I’ll never forget.”
Wang was the point guard and catalyst, averaging a team-high 17.6 points while shooting 41 percent in helping the Huskies to the Palomares League co-title, something it hadn’t won or shared since 2002.
But the Huskies and Wang didn’t stop there.
South Hills advanced to the CIF-SS Division 3A semifinals for the first time since 1992, which earned the Huskies a ticket to the CIF-State Division 3 playoffs.
South Hills notched an impressive first-round win in the state playoffs over Tulare’s Mission Oak, 70-54, with Wang scoring a game-high 24 points.
Even though the Huskies’ dream run ended the next round against top-seed Brea Olinda, their best season in more than two decades was more than anyone had imagined.
Wang, named to the Palomares League first team and also the Division 3A first team, has been selected the San Gabriel Valley Tribune girls basketball player of the year.
“It’s very humbling,” Wang said of the award. “It’s a big accomplishment for me and something I didn’t expect because we kind of snuck up on everyone and it helped because we used it as motivation.”
Wang also was quick to point out that without help from her teammates and fans, none of it was possible.
She singled out rebounding machine Joy Krupa and charge-taking sparkplug Sam Perez, and went down the line, even including players on the bench.
“Part of what I wanted to do this year was be a team leader and improve my game on both ends of the floor,” Wang said. “I thought my length helped get deflections on defense, and I had to work harder to get open shots with teams scouting me more.
“But nothing was better than watching us come together as a team and really grow as a team. Like I said, we had our ups and downs, but in the biggest games of the season, we all came to play and were there for each other.
“We weren’t afraid of any teams. We played a lot of good teams and we came out fighting and that’s how our season ended, giving it everything we had.”
Wang will continue her basketball career at Harvey Mudd in the nearby Claremont Colleges.
“I’m excited it’s close by,” Wang said. “It’s time to see how everything will go at the (next level).”
Coach of the year: Tiffany Liang, South Hills
The former South Hills player resigned following her eighth season as head coach, but what a way to go out for the Tribune coach of the year. Liang, who will coach the Tribune all-stars in the annual Classic against the Star-News on Friday, had never taken the Huskies past the second round of the divisional playoffs. But that changed this season with the Huskies reaching the Division 3A semifinals for the first time since Liang was a player for the Huskies in 1992. The Huskies finished 24-8 and shared a piece of the Palomares league title, something it hadn’t done since 2002. The season continued with a Division III state playoff berth. The Huskies beat Tulare in the first round before losing to top seed Brea Olinda, a team it led at half.
Sam Perez, South Hills, Forward, Senior
A big part of the Palomares league co-champions, Perez averaged 11 points with four rebounds and an impressive three steals per game. She also was the teams’ sparkplug, sacrificing for the good of the team, taking a team-leading 16 charges. Perez earned Palomares league first-team honors and helped her squad reach the Division 3AA semifinals.
Cassie Martinez, Bonita, Guard, Senior
With three time-player of the year Nikki Wheatley graduated and now at UNLV, it was Martinez who took over the reigns, earning first-team Palomares league honors in helping her team finish third in the Palomares behind co-champions South Hills and Ayala. Martinez, who averaged eight points, six rebounds and three assists, played a big role defensively in the Bearcats’ stunning 44-40 league win over South Hills.
Joy Krupa, South Hills, Forward, Senior
The incredibly athletic forward only averaged five points per game, but she made up for it with a team-leading 9.6 rebounds to go with four steals and three blocks per game. Krupa, an all Palomares league honoree, was as feisty on the boards as anyone, and that played a big role in her team sharing the league title and reaching the Division 3AA semifinals.
Maria Sierra, Covina, Forward, Sophomore
The super soph had an incredible year for the Colts, averaging 11 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals per game for the Valle Vista league champions, earning Sierra league most valuable player honors. She had a 15 point, 12 rebound and seven assist performance in a win over Northview and also earned CIF-SS Division 2AA first-team honors.
Katya Echavez, Walnut, Forward, Senior
The Mustangs finished second in the Hacienda league behind Chino and 16-9 overall, but league coaches thought so highly of Echavez she was named league player of the year after averaging 20 points per game. She scored a season-high 30 against Los Altos and scored 25 points each against West Covina and Chino — both league rivals. She also helped the Mustangs reach the second round of the Division 2A playoffs.
Juliana Gamboa, Diamond Bar, Guard, Sophomore
The Palomares League first team selection averaged a team-high 15 points with six rebounds per game. Gamboa scored 21 points to go with 11 rebounds in a huge win over co-league champion Ayala that helped the Mustangs clinch a playoff spot, and she scored 19 of the Brahmas’ 21 points in a 57-21 playoff loss to Lynwood.
Brittney Yee, Walnut, Guard, Senior
The Mustangs’ sharpshooter averaged 13 points for the Hacienda league runner-ups, earning Yee a Hacienda league first-team selection. The Mustangs finished second to Chino in the Hacienda league and advanced to the second round of the Division 2A playoffs with Yee’s 3-point shooting a big reason why.
Naome Aguilar, Arroyo, Forward, Senior
The 5-foot-9 forward averaged 15 points for the Knights in helping her team to an impressive 18-10 overall record and second place finish in the Mission Valley League, which also earned Aguilar co-most valuable player honors in the Mission Valley league. Aguilar also helped the Knights to a CIF-SS Division 2AA first-round win over Temple City, 44-40, scoring a team-high 16 points and hitting 10-of-11 shots from the foul line.
Kimberly Urbina, South El Monte, Guard, Junior
The Mission Valley League and CIF-SS Division 3A first-team selection led the area in scoring averaging 23 points while also averaging an astonishing eight steals per game. She also averaged six rebounds and three assists for a team that finished an impressive 21-9. Her best performance came in a win over Pomona Catholic with a triple-double, pouring in 36 points with 13 steals and 12 rebounds.
Farrah Castillo, Rowland, Guard, Junior
The Raiders’ point guard earned Valle Vista league first-team honors, averaging 14 points, five steals and four rebounds per game after transferring from Diamond Ranch. The Raiders finished the season 16-8 and second to Covina in the Valle Vista league. Castillo had 25 points and six rebounds in a win over San Dimas and scored 16 points with 10 rebounds in a win over Wilson.
Angelica Ramirez, Northview, Guard, Senior
Maryrose Wintroath, St. Lucy’s, Guard, Senior
Destinee Garr, Diamond Bar, Guard, Junior
Marisa Brown, Bishop Amat, Guard, Senior
Damiana Bagues, Bishop Amat, Guard, Senior
Alyiah Montiel, Azusa, Guard, Senior
Adriana Ramirez, West Covina, Guard, Senior
Alexis Lowden, Glendora, Guard, Freshman
Breanna Marquez, Ganesha, Guard, Senior
Princess Nava, Covina, Guard, Senior
Emily Mesa, Rowland, Guard, Senior
FINAL AREA TOP TEN RANKINGS
1. South Hills (24-8)
2. Walnut (16-9)
3. Covina (19-10)
4. West Covina (19-9)
5. Duarte (20-9)
6. Glendora (15-12)
7. Rowland (16-8)
8. Arroyo (18-10)
9. South El Monte (21-9)
10. Bonita (14-15)
Del Rey: Serra
Mission Valley: Gabrielino
Palomares: South Hills, Ayala
Valle Vista: Covina