With the 2018-19 girls basketball season underway, we take a look at 10 players from the Santa Clarita Valley to keep an eye on throughout the year.
Canyon – Chidinma Okafor (Jr.)
Chidinma Okafor provides a low-post threat for Canyon, averaging a double-double with 12.2 points and 13.2 rebounds, according to MaxPreps.com. Picking up basketball for the first time two years ago, Okafor is barely scratching the surface of her potential, and will continue to show her dominance as the season moves forward.
“She has grown tremendously,” said Canyon coach Jessica Haayer. “She has never played basketball… She has grown tremendously from the summer to now. She is still learning, and obviously young to basketball, so the sky’s the limit for her. I’m excited to have her for the next two years. So it’s really nice to have that force on the glass, and the mismatches that she creates.”
Valencia – Skylar Ingram (Jr.)
The 6-foot-1 junior center leads the Vikings in scoring and rebounding, almost averaging a double-double through 10 games. Pulling down 19 boards in her first Foothill League game this year in a win against Saugus, Ingram is a force to be reckoned with inside the paint for Valencia.
Valencia – Mailey Ballard (So.)
Taking on a bigger role in her second year playing varsity, Ballard has improved in every facet of the game. Her scoring, rebounding and assist have all improved averaging 10.5 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game through 11 games this season. She will continue to progress and will be a staple for the Valencia program for years to come.
Saugus – Monique Febles (Jr.)
The floor general for Saugus, Febles controls the pace and scoring with her ball handling abilities. She can get out on the break burning defenders with her speed or use her elusive ball skills to fool defenders on any given play.
“She really keeps us together with her dribbling and ball handling and she gets overshadowed which she shouldn’t,” Conn said. “Mo getting the ball up the floor, she is very good at what she does. Controlling the tempo of the game and she’s getting better at it.”
Saugus – Libbie McMahan (Jr.)
Entering her junior year, McMahan is looking to improve on the impressive 17.1 points per game she averaged last season. She can rebound with the best of them, and knock down long-range shots from just about anywhere on the court. Her scoring ability and length will be key to Saugus’ success.
“She’s just nonstop,” Conn said. “She’s the Energizer Bunny, and sometimes, I have to reel her back in because she’s just constantly going.”
Hart – Trudy Larkins (Sr.)
Tough, tenacious and aggressive on both ends of the floor, Larkins is a “do-it-all” player for Hart who can drive and score inside the lane, bang inside with the bigs and pop out for a perimeter shot.
“Trudy is one of the toughest kids you’ll see. She was always a good defensive player, but now she’s gotten stronger and her offensive game has come around so she creates problems because people foul her,” Palmer said. “She looks small, but she’s strong and she does not shy away from the contact.”
Golden Valley – Shyann Franklin (Sr.)
Leading by example, Franklin is the Grizzlies leading scorer and rebounder averaging 12.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game through nine games.
“She brings stability when we hit a little traffic,” said Golden Valley coach Galbert Conner. “She’s the one that pumps us up and is the coach on the floor. She centers us and is an amazing talent.”
West Ranch – Elora Kawasawa (Fr.)
Only a freshman, Kawasawa has already cemented herself as the Wildcats go to scorer through 14 games. A true shooting guard, Kawasawa has taken the reigns of the team and provided timely buckets for West Ranch with her fluid shooting motion.
“She’s running the point guard position and is really a true shooting guard,” said West Ranch coach Carlos Fandino. “She is basically our glue right now. Our go-to player when we need a bucket and has been coming in clutch in terms of points. She is a pure-shooter with incredible form. She’s still so young right now and will only get better.”
SCCS – Aaronya Crosswhite (Sr.)
When she’s not busy logging kills on the volleyball court, Crosswhite is dominating on the hardwood as one of Santa Clarita Christian’s top-scorers. The senior is an important cog in the Cardinals system and is the leader of the team.
Trinity – Hannah Caddow (Sr.)
In her senior year, Caddow is the Knights’ swiss-army knife doing a little bit of everything. Thanks to her height she can go up and grab rebounds as well as step out and knock down 3s with her range and knack for scoring.