Girls Basketball Top 10: St. Ignatius preseason No. 1 for third straight year

Josie Little (right), Sydney Raggio (left) and the Wildcats have the City’s top spot locked down in our preseason rankings. (Photo by Doug Ko)

Every week during the basketball season, we will be publishing our take on the top ten boys and girls basketball teams in San Francisco. This is our preseason list and we will update the rankings again in December. Feel free to make your own rankings and discuss ours in the comment section.

1. St. Ignatius (26-6 last season)

Since we started putting together rankings at the beginning of the 2010-2011 basketball season, the Wildcats have been our top team every week, and that may not change in 2012-2013. St. Ignatius lost its two best players (West Catholic Athletic League Player of the Year Maria Kemiji-McDonald and All-WCAL first-teamer Kaitlyn Crawley) to graduation, but returns it’s heralded freshman class from last season. Sophomore Josie Little headlines the group after starting at center for the entire 2011-2012 campaign, but forward Sydney Raggio also projects to start and fellow forward Brianna Beckman will also be in the mix. Throw in a core of call-ups that led the junior varsity Wildcats to an undefeated West Catholic Athletic League record and a few key transfers, and St. Ignatius could be on its way back to another WCAL title game appearance.

2. Lowell (25-5 last season)

The Cardinals will again be the overwhelming favorite to win their fourth straight Academic Athletic Association championship, mostly due to the presence of two AAA Players of the Year. Senior guard Katarina Lum won the award last season after leading the team in scoring (11.9 points per game) and steals (2.3), and senior forward Lorna Tuufuli was the pick two seasons ago as a sophomore. Lowell also returns its top five scorers from last season.

3. Sacred Heart Cathedral (15-15 last season)

The Irish largely have the same group returning (their top seven scorers last season were underclassmen) and will look to make strides under first-year head coach LyRyan Russell. Former head coach Mike Carey may not have lived up to the high expectations of the Sacred Heart faithful, but did win back-to-back Central Coast Section Division III titles behind the stellar play of guard GeAnna Summers-Luaulu. A starter in her first two seasons of high school, Summers-Luaulu is now a junior is an early favorite for City Player of the Year.

4. International (22-11 last season)

The Jaguars figure to be the favorite to win the Bay Counties League West title in their first year in the league, mostly due to the return of sophomore phenom Shayna Mehta and junior sharpshooter Natalie Kelly (17 points per game last season). With incoming 6-foot freshman Jasmine Sorrells, International will also have one of the BCL West’s most imposing post players.

5. Mercy (26-4 last season)

The Skippers will dearly miss Mariah Masoli, last season’s City Player of the Year, and walking double-double Courtney Sabahi, who they both lost to graduation, but still have skilled players back from the squad that won its first 19 games of the season in 2011-2012. Mercy head coach Michael Gutierrez feels that senior guard Christina Haight (who averaged 9.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game last season) will be one of the City’s best players, but junior forward Nia Ilalio (7.6 points and 8.7 rebounds per game last year) will be the only other returning starter.

6. Convent (17-9 last season)

The Cubs started all underclassmen last season, but probably lost their best player over the summer. After leading Convent in scoring (11.9 points per game) and rebounds (9.4) as a freshman last season, Erin Hanley has transferred to St. Ignatius. The Convent cupboard is far from bare, with a pair of third-year starters in senior guards Isabella Borges and Bianka Quintanilla-Whye, and junior shooting guard Jaime Hum-Nishikado, the Cubs’ leading scorer returning (11 points per game). First-year head coach Jennifer Hum-Traverso, Hum-Nishikado’s older sister and Convent’s fourth coach in four years, played as a freshman when Convent won its only state championship in 2003, averaged over 20 points per game as a senior in 2006, went on to play in college at New York University and has her No. 11 jersey retired at Convent.

7. University (26-5 last season)

The Red Devils return sophomore guard Katie Lo (11.6 points per game as a freshman last season) and eight other underclassmen, but will have big shoes to fill in the middle. Last season’s BCL West MVP Amelia King, now playing at Connecticut College, averaged a double-double last year, but her impact may be missed most on defense. Second-year head coach Jason Montana will now have to draw up defensive schemes without the 6-foot-1 center in the middle, as well as her 4.6 blocks per game.

8. Galileo (19-9 last season)

The Lions didn’t have a single senior season and should have every player back, including All-AAA junior guards Sarah Lim (team-high 12.4 points per game last season), Kim Fung (9.2) and Cassidy Chan (8.3), along with freshman Karen Wong (8.7). The biggest deficiency for the Lions will again be an inside presence, however, as no Galileo player was taller than 5-foot-7 last season.

9. Urban (13-13 last season)

With the departures of so many impactful frontcourt players in the BCL West, the Blues may have the best player in the paint returning. Senior forward Charlotte Blanc (13.5 points and 10.8 rebounds per game) will be the Urban captain, but the Blues will also return senior center Hannah Ferguson (6-foot-1) and add freshman Adi Martin-Ruben (6-foot-1). Blanc led the Blues in scoring last season, but their next three top scorers were seniors.

10. Balboa (10-11 last season)

The Bucs round out the Top 10 because they might have the best scorer in the AAA. After missing a large chunk of the non-league schedule last season, shooting guard Malaysia Basallo averaged 17.4 points per game in her junior year and will be a dark-horse candidate for AAA Player of the Year as a senior. Balboa also returns senior point guard Chanel Malone (13.3 points per game) and a pair of solid forwards, sophomore Tatiana Jimenez and junior Esmi Cabrera.

The best of the rest, with last season’s records: Lick-Wilmerding (10-13), Drew (12-11), Washington (14-16), Lincoln (11-17)

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14 Comments

  1. Ari Gold says:

    SI teams usually had 1-2 skilled bigs and SH just had more talented shorter players that just ran up and down the court tiring the other team with taller players. Look for that trend to continue as Maria has graduated and SH looking to reclaim its best in the city crown.

  2. Ruckjames says:

    SHC ‘s roster have improved a lot from last year’s. They have a little bit of
    Height and a lot if speed in the guards, wouldn’t be surprised if they split regular season
    Games with SI. SHC will win more games this year compared to last with
    Coach Russel at the helm.

    • BBALL FANATIC says:

      Season split with SI? not sure thats gonna happen….One thing the scouting report didnt tell you is, there might be a transfer or two applying for Maria’s job over there in the sunset.

      • JJ says:

        I also think SI will sweep SHC. SI’s girls team will dominate SHC in the rebound category. The only thing SI is lacking is outside shooting with the loss of their 4 senior guards. Hopefully, the new transfers can pick up the slack.

      • Ruckjames says:

        Sorry but even the combined talent of the two transfers does not replace
        Maria’s production. The Peidmont transfer is a pretty good point guard, the best SI have since Elise graduated, however she is not as good as Geanna of SHC.

  3. oswald jefferson says:

    SI and SHC are much closer than people seem to think. The games will come down to which team exerts their strength on the other. SI has the advantage down low with the two posts, and the addition of the shooter from Piedmont will be huge. (Definitely not a point guard). SHC will have the advantage in the backcourt, and if they play a style that lets them get out and run, then the game will be close. People underestimate the losses that SI took. They lost the heart and soul of the team. It will take time for the identity to form with the new roles for the current players. It helps having 3 D-1 players on the team.

  4. JJ says:

    Well, Lowell is ranked #2 and SHC is numbered 3. Lowell and SHC battle it out one week from today, so we can assess how good (or bad) SHC is. If you remember, last year, Lowell beat the Irish. I don’t see how the Irish will beat SI. Although SHC may have better guards, it’s not like they were stroking it from the 3. In the NorCal playoffs, SHC got rattled when the other team put a full court press and they committed alot of turnovers. New coach, so obviously they could be a different team.

    • Ari Gold says:

      SI is ranked #4 in the chronicle. Little and Raggio better be up for the challenge and filling Maria’s shoes. They both benefit from teams focusing on Maria. Now they dont have that luxury and will have to be way more assertive. It wont matter though, Kellie Hayes is going to DESTROY them like she did last year all the way to the state title again.

      • JJ says:

        Mitty will be in the Open Division, so it will be tough for them to get past Mater Dei in order to win a State title. I think St Mary’s Stockton will beat them in NorCals, anyways.

  5. oswald jefferson says:

    The ranking is according to this site. It baffles me that you would rank Lowell higher based on a 4 point victory over a team missing their star player. With her on the court she makes a 20 point difference.

    If you say so!

    SHC beating SI will take things falling in their favor, but SHC beats Lowell by at least 10.

    • JJ says:

      I guess we will see next Tuesday who’s the better team. Losing to Lowell 2 years in a row would be disheartening to the Irish contingent, as they have high hopes with their new coach. I think SHC will win by 2 points on a bad call by the ref, but I feel they will end with another 15-15 season.

  6. Bball fan says:

    Good luck to all the girls! Stay healthy, enjoy a fun season and leave it all on the court. To my fellow readers, remember they are children and play for the love of the game, not for us. Think before you hit submit.

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