West Coast Jamboree: Final thoughts

The first Bay Area News Group-East Bay basketball polls will debut in the paper this Tuesday (look for them Monday on the blog) and our No. 1 girls team will be no big mystery.

At the West Coast Jamboree this week, Carondelet looked just as good if not better than last year when it went to the CIF state Division II title game. In addition to wins over defending NCS champions Berkeley and St. Mary’s, the Cougars took Long Beach Poly to the wire in the Platinum championship game before falling 58-56. Poly had earned the No. 2 national ranking earlier this week after beating the country’s previous No. 1 team, Mater Dei-Santa Ana, at the Nike Tournament of Champions.

As expected, Hannah Huffman and Erica Payne played fantastic all week for Carondelet, but the entire starting five was terrific against Poly. Melissa Russi had a pair of incredibly clutch 3-pointers, Portia Velasco has emerged into a legitimate offensive threat and Natalie Romeo – is she really just a freshman?

The Cougars don’t have a ton of size after the graduation of center Erin Boettcher, so they’ve turned into a team that likes to run and plays strong defense. I chatted with Poly point guard Ariya Crook-Williams after the championship game and she said Carondelet’s zone really frustrated them and took them out of the flow of their offense. The zone D was also crucial to the Cougars’ big third quarter runs against Berkeley and St. Mary’s earlier in the week.

Don’t pencil Carondelet in for the state title game just yet. Thanks to a new rule, the Cougars move up to Division I after winning three consecutive North Coast Section Division II titles. That means they will have to go through Berkeley, which took third at the Jamboree after a two-point loss to Carondelet and has plenty of firepower as well. Carondelet and Berkeley meet again in a nonleague game at the Berkeley gym on Jan. 15. Two more playoff games are also likely. I certainly wouldn’t bet on a four-game sweep.

Also, a special thanks to Deer Valley coach Mark Anger and tournament co-director/announcer Harold Abend who kept the Platinum Division running on time all four days. As a reporter with tight deadlines, it made a huge difference (I think my bosses and I were still having nightmares from last season when a great semifinal between Carondelet and Potter’s House Christian didn’t make the paper because it ended well after 11 p.m.)

Stephanie Hammon

  • Prep Fan

    Great showing by the local teams at the WCJ. Here is a quick stab at the initial top 15:
    1) Carondelet
    2) Berkeley
    3) St. Mary’s of Berkeley
    4) Dougherty Valley
    5) Bishop O’Dowd
    6) Miramonte
    7) Campolindo
    8) St. Josephs
    9) James Logan
    10) Mission San Jose
    11) Albany
    12) Deer Valley
    13) Moreau
    14) Salesian
    15) Foothill/Dublin
    HM: Heritage, Monte Vista, Clayton Valley, American, Northgate.

  • Prep Fan

    I’m not sure why the #8 for St. Joes turned into t smiley face, but nothing was meant by it. I’m sure I missed a few schools that are playing good basketball and will move up in the rankings, but I just threw this together as some inital thoughts. The only locks are #1 & #2.

  • Html code for the smiley face is, you guessed is 8). Hence the smiley face for St. Joe’s.

  • Scl alum

    Happy New year everyone 🙂

  • hoopjunkie

    I’m not sure I agree that Clet is better than last year. Big miSses with no Erin in the middle and Riki with the 3 ball. Hence, if Clet would have played zone last year like they are now…it would have made a huge difference in some big games.

    Nonetheless, Margaret figures out how to get them to win which is what counts. Really looking forward to 3 more of these BHi vs Clet games.

  • Prep Fan

    2 glaring omissions from my list now that I look at it are Acalanes and Piedmont. 2 solid teams that probably should be in the top 10.

    As far as C-Let, they may not be better than last year, but they’re good and their only real competition in NorCal is Berkeley. I think Russi is a pretty good 3 point shooter and fills the Riki role when they try to double team Payne. The C-Let games against both Berkeley and LBP were incredible. Both could have gone either way and went right down to the wire. Good to see E-Culb’s sis out there again.

  • E_CULB

    I think C-Let is as good as last year but just different. What the lack in size this year they make up for in speed, quickness, and 3pt shooting. Portia Velasco (I hope that’s her name) wasnt near the shooter or scoring threat last year. And the freshman ranks right up there with the 2 at SMB she can flat out go. I personally think last years C-Let squad loses to Poly going away, but this year Poly couldnt just run them out the gym. I cant wait til the 15th!

    And yea prepfan Albany over Peidmont is a glaring omission but the rankings look pretty good. The DFAL is a really good league so having all those teams in the rankings seem about right.