PREP FEATURE: Area girls basketball teams look to improve on 2016-17 results - Palos Verdes Peninsula News : Peninsula Newspaper - Sports

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PREP FEATURE: Area girls basketball teams look to improve on 2016-17 results

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Posted: Wednesday, January 3, 2018 3:05 pm | Updated: 5:28 pm, Fri Jan 5, 2018.

The competition level of the girls basketball teams on the Hill is one that some areas can only dream of.

In the 2016-17 season, three of the four teams made deep playoff runs, while one found itself on the outside looking in for the second time in nine years.

Rolling Hills Prep won both the CIF Southern Section Division 6 and Southern California Division 5 titles before falling in the CIF State Division 5 championship game. Chadwick’s lone playoff losses, both in section and state, came at the hands of RH Prep. And Palos Verdes advanced to the Division 3-AA quarterfinals before falling to eventual champion Thousand Oaks.

RH Prep, under second-year coach Richard Masson, is off to a start similar to last years 32-4 season. The Huskies currently sit at 9-2 (through Tuesday) and are fresh off a four-win performance at the Gator Classic in Henderson, Nevada.

The Huskies return leading scorers Aly Maxey and Macy Pakele.

“They’ve been solid, with both scoring in double figures every game,” Masson said. “Both have scored over 20 points twice, and are solid at both ends of the court.”

Masson tabbed point guard Maddie Yamada as the “brains of the operation”.

“She has become a very good point guard, and does a great job leading the team offensively and defensively,” he said.

RH Prep returns just one senior, Lauren Tsuji, on a roster full of not only underclassmen, but inexperience.

Freshman Clarice Akunwafo stands 6-foot-4, and while Masson says she’s green behind the ears, her upside is huge.

“She is very coachable and will be very good one day,” Masson said.

The Huskies moved up to Division 4A after its success last season, and Masson is seeing the girls take on the tasks presented to them.

“We start three sophomores and a freshman,” Masson said. “Because of this, I feel we still have a big upside. The goal is always to be the best we can be and compete hard. Everything else is secondary.”

RH Prep has two key games upcoming against St. Paul (Jan. 6) and Oaks Christian (Jan. 13). The Huskies close the regular season against Pacific Hills Feb. 7.


Like it’s small-school counterpart, Chadwick is off to a similar start after its deep playoff run last year.

“We are off to a great start (this season),” Chadwick coach Moniquee Alexander said. “The girls are working hard in practice and getting better everyday.”

The Dolphins return Hope Arnett, Megan Dinnegan and Kate Chappell from last years squad.

Even with its state playoff trip, Alexander isn’t thinking about last years success.

“Last year was a great year for us, but this is a new year,” Alexander said. “I teach my girls every year that every game will come down to who wants it more. We have to come out ready to play each game with a fighter’s mentality.”

While Alexander has Chadwick focused on what’s ahead, she knows the Dolphin faithful is hopeful the success of last year continues.

“Will we go back to a section final? I don’t know. But I do know that the girls are going to continue to give their best every time out,” Alexander said. “I teach my girls that you can not control the outcome of a game or season but you can control your effort. So were going to make sure that the effort from the coaching staff and team is 110 percent everyday.”

The Dolphins kick off 2018 hosting Mary Star Jan. 4 and close the regular season with a pair of road games at Firebaugh and Westridge.


The Palos Verdes High squad returns senior Amelia Dibbo and juniors Ebun Kalejiyae and Djae Berberabe to a team that went 20-10 last season.

Seasoned coach Tom Maier is one who sticks to his guns, staying away from foreshadowing how his teams will do.

“I never make any projections, but we return a nucleus of players (from last year),” Maier said.

PV is Maier’s third coaching stop. He’s also coached at Chadwick and Redondo Union, amassing 703 wins along the way. Win No. 700 came against Northwood of Irvine in the Segerstrom Tournament Dec. 15.

The Sea Kings sit at 10-5 (through Tuesday) and are fresh off playing four straight games against teams from Texas, Ohio, Georgia and Florida. PV went 2-2 in those games, and will play at St. Paul Friday, Jan. 5. 


Looking to end a two-year playoff drought, the Peninsula Panthers are off to a 6-7 start and have won three of its last four games at the So Cal Holiday Prep Classic in San Diego heading into this weeks clash against North Torrance Jan. 3. (Results from the game against North were unavailable at press deadline).

The Panthers return captains Samantha Inana and Jenna Yamada, alongside Kristin Hanaoka and Veronica Rojas, with Yamada being the lone Panther that has been to the CIF-SS playoffs in her career.

“Jenna is my most experienced player,” coach Natalie Kelly said. “As far as varsity experience, we’re young but talented.”

Kelly saw that talent on display in San Diego, along with what looks to be a cohesive unit.

“My girls have character, work hard and have great team camaraderie,” Kelly said. “I’ve seen significant growth from our first tournament to our third, and my freshman and sophomores have been solid and are contributing.”

In her ninth year at Peninsula, Kelly has maintained a level of expectations befitting of a program that looks to get back into the playoffs.

“My expectations are to finish the season with a winning record, be in the top half of Bay League and make CIF,” she said.

Peninsula begins its Bay League schedule Jan. 9 at Mira Costa, and plays at PV Jan. 23. The Panthers close out the regular season hosting Palos Verdes Feb. 8.

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