PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Amy Navarro, El Rancho, Senior
El Rancho High School enjoyed arguably its finest season in girls basketblal in 2017.
The Dons, who have dominated the Del Rio League each of the past three seasons, had a school-record 26 wins and advanced to the CIF Southern Section quarterfinals for the first time.
Senior Amy Navarro was a pivotal force in that success, both as a scorer and defender, but also from a leadership role.
For her efforts, Navarro is the 2017 Whittier Daily News girls basketball Player of the Year.
“This year was amazing,” Navarro said. “It felt great, like knowing your hard work paid off. It was great to experience (setting the quarterfinal milestone) with my teammates. It’s a great feeling.”
But one well-deserved.
The senior was one of the area’s most-balanced players, averaging a team-best 11.6 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.
El Rancho coach Randy Shigezane credited Navarro’s work ethic for her success.
“She’s been a fantastic player,” Shigezane said of the 6-foot Navarro. “I’ve been a coach for 30 years and she’s easily one of the most-improved players I’ve coached in a four-year span at the high school level.
“I told her as a freshman that she could change our program, because we don’t typically get players her size. I told her it was just going to be up to how hard she worked, and clearly by how she played this year it was something we can’t replace. She’s been a perfect player for us, (both) on the court and leading the team. She’s been fantastic.”
The numbers show her improvement. Navarro went from 3.5 ppg as a sophomore to 10.2 last season and 11.6 this winter.
“It really just came down to how much I really wanted to improve,” Navarro said.
The senior, who was co-Del Rio League MVP with fellow senior Brittany Corona, had her biggest games down the stretch, including averaging close to 13 points a game over the final seven and scoring in double figures in all three playoff games.
El Rancho, which won an early-season showdown against area power St. Paul in December, followed up its perfect Del Rio League campaign with playoff victories over Westminster (54-47) and Antelope Valley (46-43) to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time.
The Dons season ended with a 58-41 loss to Bishop Montgomery.
“This was a great year and a good experience,” Navarro said. “It was awesome, especially being with my teammates and experiencing it with my best friends.”
COACH OF THE YEAR
Randy Shigezane, El Rancho
Shigezane, in his 12th season at the Pico Rivera school, the past nine as head coach, has built the Dons into an area power. El Rancho has won five consecutive Del Rio League crowns under his watch, including the past three outright.
The Dons have won their past 28 league games.
This season was arguably the best in school history. El Rancho went 26-5, including 10-0 in winning the Del Rio League, and advanced to the CIF-SS quarterfinals for the first time.
“No girls or boys team had ever been to the quarterfinals before,” Shigezane said. “This was a huge accomplishment for us this year. The girls were obviously disappointed they didn’t win (against Bishop Montgomery), but certainly doing something no one here has ever done, it was an unbelievable year. It was special.”
Guard: Meghann Henderson, Sonora, Sr.
Henderson has been a key cog for the Raiders, who have advanced to at least the quarterfinals each of the past three seasons, including making the divisional finals in 2016. She averaged 19.5 points per game this season in helping Sonora go 22-8 and advance to the quarterfinals. Henderson, who is on the all-area team for the third consecutive season, was All-Freeway League and All-CIF-SS Division IAA.
Guard: Lainie James, Sonora, Sr.
James is on the all-area first team for the third consecutive season and a key part of a Raiders team that has advanced to at least the quarterfinals the past three seasons. The senior averaged 18.3 points per game, including making 45 3-pointers. She was All-Freeway League.
Guard: Emma Zener, La Habra, Sr.
Zener is one of five players to make all-area the past three seasons. The senior, who helped La Habra to an 18-10 record, is one of the better shooters in the area and put in 71 3-pointers this winter while averaging 11 points per game. She was All-Freeway League.
Guard: Brittany Corona, El Rancho, Sr.
Corona has been a key player for the Dons and part of four Del Rio League championship teams. She averaged 11.1 points per game in helping El Rancho to a 26-5 record and advance to the CIF-SS quarterfinals for the first time in school history. She also made 55 3-pointers. Corona was co-MVP of the Del Rio League with teammate Amy Navarro.
Forward: Na’Lon Smith, St. Paul, Sr.
Smith was one of the bright spots for what was a disappointing season for Swordsmen, who missed the playoffs after winning a 4AA title in 2016. She combined athleticism with shooting ability to be one of the top scorers in the area. Smith, who was 2016 WDN Player of the Year, was first team All-Del Rey League.
Forward: Paris Rivera, California, Sr.
Rivera was a key part in leading the Condors to their best season in program history, which included advancing to the CIF-SS quarterfinals for the first time. She provided an inside presence for California, averaging 13.3 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. The senior was first team All-Del Rio League and first team All-CIF-SS Division 4AA.
Forward: Marissa Mora, Pioneer, Jr.
Mora helped the Titans to a spot in the CIF-SS Division 4A quarterfinals. She was a force inside for Pioneer, scoring 13.4 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Mora was first team All-Del Rio League and first team All-CIF-SS Division 4A.
Forward: Lily Perkins, Cantwell, Sr.
Perkins is on the all-area team for the third consecutive season. She averaged double-figures in scoring to help the Cardinals reach the second round of the fourth consecutive season. Perkins, who will attend Eastern Washington on a basketball scholarship, combined athleticism with scoring finesse to become one of the area’s best the past four seasons. She was All-Del Rey League.
Center: Kyannie Brown, Montebello, Sr.
Brown enjoyed a monster season in helping the Oilers go 18-8 and reach the CIF-SS playoffs. She was a force on the offensive side, scoring 13 points and 13 rebounds per game. She was productive against quality opponents, averaging 20 points against top competition, including scoring 17 points in a 54-48 loss to Viewpoint in the first round of the playoffs. She was Almont League MVP, a rare feat for a player from a non-championship team.
Center: Christa Evans, Whittier Christian., Sr.
Evans helped Whittier Christian reach the 4AA quarterfinals. She’s been a top player for the Heralds in previous seasons and really stepped up in 2017, averaging 13.2 points and 10.7 rebounds a game for Whittier Christian, which went 20-10. She was first team All-Olympic League and first team All-CIF-SS Division 4AA.
Guard: Elizabeth Yoshitake, Sonora, So.
Guard, Susy Regalado, El Rancho, Jr.
Guard: Nicole Robles, California, So.
Guard: Valeria Lizarraga, Cantwell-Sacred Heart, Sr.
Guard: Alisia Trejo, Montebello, Jr.
Guard: Joleen Corona, Whittier Christian, Fr.
Forward: Raylene Cosio, Pioneer, So.
Forward: Alyssa Lomeili, Whittier, Sr.
Center: Hannah Mc Arthur, La Habra, Sr.
Center: Lauryn Jordan, La Mirada, Sr.
FINAL TOP TEN
1. Sonora (22-8)
2. El Rancho (26-5)
3. California (19-8)
4. Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary (15-15)
5. Whittier Christian (20-10)
6. Pioneer (19-12)
7. Montebello (18-8)
8. La Habra (18-10)
9. St. Paul (11-16)
10. Whittier (12-16)
Del Rey: Serra
Del Rio: El Rancho
Olympic: Village Christian
Suburban: Cerritos, Mayfair