Editor’s Note: All statistics, streaks and records as of Jan. 22.
The Modesto Christian and Manteca high school girls basketball teams may be running away in the Modesto Metro Conference and Valley Oak League, but the All-District Player of the Year remains up for grabs.
The most talented player resides in the VOL. With a full-ride scholarship to Louisville and a McDonald’s All American selection in the bag, the only question surrounding Loretta Kakala of Manteca is: Where does she rank among the Stanislaus District’s best, historically?
Today, she has no equals.
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But the most valuable player for the 2016-17 season, well, that’s a different question.
The MMC is teeming with worthy guards, each dynamic in her own way, while the Central California Conference has become a playground for rivals in Turlock.
Here’s a closer look at the players at the top of The Bee’s watchlist:
Nicole Warwick, Modesto Christian: Warwick, a fleet-footed senior guard, embodies the spirit of The Bee’s top-ranked large-school program. She is supremely talented, wildly athletic and an endless stream of energy and experience. Warwick is capable of outrunning any guard in the area, rebounding with any big and locking in from 3-point range. She has scored in double figures in 12 of the Crusaders’ 16 games, including a season-high 25 points against another top guard, Zakiya Williams of Enochs. Warwick is also shooting 71 percent from the free-throw line (71 for 100), tops among Modesto Christian players with at least 20 attempts.
Loretta Kakala, Manteca: The Manteca forward and Louisville commit is believed to be the first player in Stanislaus District history to be named a McDonald’s All American. The Paris sisters, Courtney and Ashley, were selected for the 2005 All-American all-star game but didn’t finish their prep careers at Modesto Christian. They attended the Sisk Road campus for one year before transferring to Piedmont and Millennium high schools. The Buffaloes have won six of their last seven games and sit atop the Valley Oak League standings. One win came against crosstown rival East Union, the defending VOL champion. Kakala is averaging 12.3 points, 11.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks for the surging Buffaloes.
Kaylin Randhawa, Pitman: The Pride’s 6-foot-1 forward averaged 18.5 points, 12 rebounds and four assists in wins over El Capitan and Turlock last week. Pitman has won four of its last five to jump back into the CCC title hunt. Randhawa delivered an MVP moment in the rivalry win over the Bulldogs. After sitting most of the third quarter with foul trouble, Randhawa sealed the win with 10 points in the fourth. She isn’t just the Pride’s best finisher but also its best ballhandler and one of its strongest defenders. Randhawa is averaging 17.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 2.8 steals and 1.4 blocks.
Zakiya Williams, Enochs: The senior point guard is doing it all for the Eagles, the top Modesto City Schools program in the MMC. Enochs has won seven of its last eight – the one outlier a 78-49 loss to Modesto Christian. Williams is averaging 19.5 points, 3.1 assists and 2.0 steals. She’s scored 20 or more points in four of her last five games, including 27 on 10-of-22 shooting against the Crusaders’ vaunted press. Williams had a season-high 31 points in back-to-back games against Turlock and Pitman in early December. She also had a season-best seven rebounds and 13 assists in a win over Beyer.
Lea Anderson, Davis: Anderson possesses the ability to take over a game. The junior has scored 30 or more points in a game four times and boasts a season average of 21.8. She also averages about six rebounds and six assists for the Spartans, who are 4-2 in the MMC under first-year coach Tim Garcia.
Others to watch
Ruby Daube, East Union: Only 5-2, the explosive senior guard doesn’t back down from a challenge; she scored 36 in a loss to Manteca.
Jaydon Williams, Turlock: The sophomore is averaging 13.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, 4.1 steals and 3.4 assists for the Bulldogs.
Alyssa Silva, Waterford: Silva has 10 double-doubles and two triple-doubles, and is averaging 18.3 points, 8.9 steals, 8.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists.