When she was a kid, Talia Taufaasau constantly watched crime shows like “Unsolved Mysteries” and “The First 48” with her grandmother.
“I grew up watching them and so, like, mysteries and unsolved crime scenes and stuff fascinate me,” Taufaasau said.
Not only does she enjoy trying to crack a case, she also excels in getting to the bottom of opponents on the court. Her abilities as a point guard to analyze and solve an opponents’ play is just part of why Taufaasau is named the 2018 All-SCV girls basketball player of the year.
“I always try to stay one step ahead,” she said. “As a point guard, it’s kind of my job to facilitate the offense, so I like to think I’m one step ahead of the defense.
“A lot of it is mental. As much as basketball is a physical sport … there’s a lot of mental thought process that goes into it.”
Taufaasau earned the position of starting point guard as a freshman and stuck with it ever since, although she says she didn’t fully flourish in the role until her senior year.
She embraced the time on the floor as well as the time in the film room, actively analyzing other teams’ and players’ styles of play.
“For me, I think it helps to kind of have an idea on what they like to do just so you know how to play it early on and like you don’t dig yourself a hole trying to figure out how it is,” Taufaasau said.
Taufaasau, who averaged 14.6 points per game and 7.6 assists per game in her senior campaign, helped guide the Cowboys to their second consecutive Foothill League title and tournament crowns in the Burroughs Tournament and the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix, Ariz.
Canyon’s season stopped short of another CIF-Southern Section finals appearance on Feb. 21 when it lost to Alemany, 67-57.
“It was definitely a tough one because obviously going to finals two years in a row, we wanted to go again and hopefully the third time’s the charm and we win,” Taufaasau said. “I think the division and the pool play that we were in was very competitive and we were challenged every single round.”
Taufaasau plans to pursue a career in forensic psychology after studying psychology in college. And although there are plenty of mysteries for her to solve in the future, what she wants future Canyon players to do is clear:
“Just (keep) the same drive,” she said. “I feel like we were all very determined … It sucks that we lost, but I just hope that next year even though we’re graduating a significant amount of people, they still have that drive and want to get to the same position. And win league again.”
Rachel Bowers, Canyon, senior
The Boise State commit took her game to another level this season in terms of aggressive play. She led the Cowboys with 16.1 points per game and rebounds with 335. Bowers also surpassed 1,000 career points this season.
Annie Christofferson, Hart, senior
Christofferson had the magic touch when it came to 3-pointers, sinking 74 treys in her final year with the Indians. She averaged 20.2 points per game and 4.4 rebounds per game and also reached 1,500 career points on Dec. 30 against Thousand Oaks.
Libbie McMahan, Saugus, sophomore
A dual-sport athlete that excels in both basketball and softball, McMahan has shown just how valuable she’ll be to the Centurions in future seasons after averaging 17.1 points per game and 6.7 rebounds per game.
Chyanne Pagkalinawan, Valencia, senior
Pagkalinawan was the motor for the Vikings this season with a team-high 10.5 points per game average. She capitalized on the experience and momentum she gained from the prior season’s CIF championship run.
Gabriela Sanchez, Canyon, senior
One of the Foothill League’s most tenacious defenders, Sanchez helped Canyon outscore Foothill League opponents 618-313 this season. She was second on the team in rebounds, pulling down 8.2 per game in addition to averaging 7.5 points per game.
Monique Febles, Saugus, sophomore
The point guard effectively ran the Centurions’ press on a nightly basis and was second on the team with 10.9 points per game.
Chidinma Ikonte, Valencia, senior
Ikonte provided physicality for the Vikings and ranked first on the team with 7.8 rebounds per game for 211 total rebounds on the season.
Selasi Mawugbe, Canyon, senior
Serving as a counterpart to Gabby Sanchez, Mawugbe enforced defensive pressure and could score, too, tying for second on the team with 7.5 points per game.
Aly Kaneshiro, Hart, senior
Kaneshiro, or “AK,” as she was known to her team, was a rebounding machine, pacing the Indians with eight boards per game.
Ellie Villavicencio, Canyon, junior
Seeing an increase in playing time with the Cowboys this season, the guard recorded four points per game this season and set herself up for a leadership role on next season’s team.
Canyon – Brooke Mitchell, junior
Golden Valley – Shyann Franklin, junior
Hart – Haylyn Nguyen, senior
Saugus – Danny Diaz, senior
Valencia – Tiana Beale, senior
West Ranch – Eleanor McQuillen, junior
Trinity – Trinity Towns, sophomore
SCCS – Chloe Lehman, junior
SCVi – Alexa Leal, sophomore