Cal Sparks Gold team completes strong season by winning Summer in the City event. Girls from St. Mary’s of Stockton also shine in different event.
Note: See Part 1 of this story that took a look at the Next Level All-American Camp on July 6-7 in San Diego, the Next Level Nationals on July 8-10 in San Diego and for two national events near Nashville, Tenn.
Halfway through the NCAA-mandated week-long “dark period” of basketball recruiting when Division I college coaches can’t observe players or events, the Girls of Summer basketball caravan provided the eyes and ears for those coaches at the July 19-22 San Diego Classic.
Of the overall 200 teams competing, 40 were in the 3A Division that was observed.
Despite playing without 2013 stars Courtney Range and Onome Jemerigbe, St. Mary’s (Stockton) won it’s first-ever 3A title with an exciting 48-47 win over a Central Catholic of Portland (Ore.) team that was at full strength with All-American candidates Kailee Johnson and Jordan Reynolds both playing.
Several girls played well for veteran coach Tom Gonsalves, but no one was better than 2015 guard Bre Moore. Besides playing six solid games in the tournament, her nine points, 20 rebounds, three steals and two assists in the title-game win earned tournament MVP honors.
St. Mary’s Unique Coleman, a 2013 wing, stood out, as did Angel Johnson, a 5-foot-7 incoming freshman who was one of the top 2016 players observed all summer.
From San Diego, the summer tour then continued from San Diego up to Santa Ana Mater Dei for the July 23-25 Showtime National Championships. The international field included the Chinese U17 National team and teams from British Columbia and Australia.
Cal Sparks Gold was the winner of the 48-team Open Division with a surprisingly easy wire-to-wire 53-34 victory over Seattle’s Tree of Hope Elite. Kristen Simon (Windward) led a balanced attack with nine points.
The July 27-29 Next Level Grand Finale at San Diego City College was the final event before the caravan headed back to Northern California and the Summer in the City.
Just like they had done early in the viewing period in San Diego, the local girls took the title when SoCal Magic Black posted a 50-31 over Chaos Elite from the Fresno area.
Brittani Lusain (Chula Vista Mater Dei) earned another MVP honor after finishing with 12 points, four rebounds, four assists, and three steals.
Dejaunee Brooks of Cajon (San Bernardino) added 12 points and Alexandria Young (Chula Vista Mater Dei) contributed nine points and five rebounds. Jon’nae Vermillion also ended a solid summer with five points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Finally, on July 31, Cal Sparks Gold’s 59-50 victory over Team Concept was witnessed by almost 100 college coaches at the Summer in the City Elite Division title game.
The Sparks Gold girls, who are mostly from the greater Los Angeles area, only trailed twice by two points early before taking charge in a solid win over the team from Oregon.
Sparks Gold’s Jordin Canada of Windward (Los Angeles) capped a 10-0 run with a reverse layup that made it 34-22 after she zigged and zagged down the lane and past Concept’s two USA Women’s Basketball invitees Johnson and Reynolds, both from Central Catholic of Portland, Oregon.
The 5-foot-7 Canada, rated the No. 1 point guard in the nation from the Class of 2014, finished with 16 points, five assists and five steals. Her backcourt mate Courtney Jaco, also from Windward, made five 3-pointers and led all scorers with 19 points. The incoming senior that has San Diego State, UC Santa Barbara, Arizona, Washington and Nevada Las Vegas on her list of top schools added three steals and two assists.
Simon finished the second half of the viewing period very strong, dominating the paint. She had a double-double 11 points and 19 rebounds.
Concept’s Johnson, a 6-foot-3 post that has Stanford, Southern California, Washington, UCLA and Oregon at the top of her list, did everything she could but her mates had no answer for the speed and swarming defense of Sparks Gold.
Johnson, the 2013 No. 4 ranked big girl in the nation, scored a team-high 18 points and completed her double-double with 10 rebounds.
Jaime Nared (2014), a 6-foot-1 forward from Portland Westview, added 12 points for Concept but Reynolds never got untracked and finished with six points.
Concept played without the nation’s top center and overall player from the Class of 2013, 6-foot-4 Mercedes Russell from Springfield (Oregon).
Sparks Gold was missing Erica McCall, LaJahna Drummer and Keyla Morgan.
McCall, a 6-foot-3 wing from Ridgeview (Bakersfield) who is ranked No. 11 overall in the nation from the Class of 2013, played all month with Sparks but missed Summer in the City to play in the USA Women’s 3-on-3 tournament.
Drummer, a 2014 from St. Bernard (Playa del Ray) has been out with an ACL injury. Morgan, a 2013 from Long Beach Poly, has an ankle fracture.
All in all over 750 teams and close to 7,500 players competed at the eight events covered by the 2012 Girls of Summer Basketball caravan.
Comments or corrections? Email Mark.Tennis@espn.com. Be sure to follow Cal-Hi Sports girls basketball correspondent Harold Abend on Twitter @HaroldAbend.