With standout junior guard Natalie Kelly, the International High School girls’ basketball team figured to be a Division V state championship contender.
But after the Jaguars lost Kelly for the season to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her knee in mid-January, International still made it to the Division V Northern California semifinals because they had Shayna Mehta.
Mehta, a 5-foot-8 sophomore guard, averaged a city-best 23 points per game, 7.4 rebounds (second-best on the team) and four assists.
That’s why she’s the San Francisco Examiner City Player of the Year.
“She’s one of the most underrated guards in The City and she can put a team on her back ... I mean, go ahead, try to stop her,” International coach Charlene Murphy said after Mehta’s 34-point performance in a win over Convent of the Sacred Heart High School in late January.
Kelly, who missed the last two months of the season, still did enough to earn second-team honors on our All-City team. More of a shooter than Mehta, Kelly shot 49 percent from 3-point range and also averaged 23 points per game.
Although Sacred Heart Cathedral was balanced, the Division III NorCal champs dominate the first team. Junior guard GeAnna Summers-Luaulu led the Irish in scoring (10 points per game), senior guard Briannah Smith was the best perimeter defender in The City and 6-foot-1 sophomore center Ashanti Coleman was arguably the best player on the floor during the playoff run.
First-year coach LyRyan Russell led that talented group (also including third-team selection Ashley Gainer and honorable mentions Kai’ree Howard and Jerrieza Enriquez) to the Division III state title game, earning Coach of the Year honors, with Lowell’s Aki Kuwada not far behind.
Rounding out the first team is Balboa senior guard Malaysia Basallo, who led the Academic Athletic Association in scoring and earned the league’s Player of the Year award, and St. Ignatius sophomore forward Sydney Raggio, who was a double-double threat every time she stepped on the floor this season.
A pair of double-double threats — Lowell senior forward Lorna Tu’ufuli (8.8 points, 8.4 rebounds) and Urban senior forward Charlotte Blanc (14.8 points, 10 rebounds, 1.8 blocks) — headline the second team. Mercy senior guard Christina Haight (11 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 3.1 steals, 3.4 blocks) was one of the best all-around players in San Francisco and is also a second-team selection, along with St. Ignatius junior Quinci Mann (10.6 points).
There isn’t much of a drop off on the third team, with a pair of The City’s best scorers — Convent junior guard Jaime Hum Nishikado (18 points) and University sophomore guard Katie Lo (17.8 points) — along with undersized, but not under-talented forwards Karah Butac (Washington) and Brianna Beckman (St. Ignatius).
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Shayna Mehta Soph. Guard International
COACH OF THE YEAR
LyRyan Russell, Sacred Heart Cathedral
Isabella Borges, senior, guard, Convent; CJ Catina, freshman, guard, Urban; Natalie Capangpangan, freshman, forward, Immaculate Conception; Cassidy Chan, junior, guard, Galileo; Maggie Chen, senior, guard, Lincoln; Alyssa Dela Cruz, junior, guard, Burton; Jerrieza Enriquez, senior, guard, SHC; Kim Fung, junior, guard, Galileo; Sophia Gluck, junior, forward, Jewish Community; Erin Hanley, sophomore, forward, St. Ignatius; Kai’ree Howard, junior, guard, SHC; Nia Ilalio, junior, forward, Mercy; Sarah Lim, junior, forward, Galileo; Grace Lui, senior, forward, Washington; Katarina Lum, senior, guard, Lowell; Chanel Malone, senior, guard, Balboa; Hana Murphy, senior, forward, Lowell; Angie Ng, senior, guard, Lowell; Danielle Palmer, junior, forward, International; Kimberly Powell, junior, guard, Gateway; Bianka Quintanilla-Whye, senior, guard, Convent; Nefertiti Rogers, senior, forward, Drew; Aki Shurelds, junior, guard, Lick-Wilmerding; Taylor Sui, senior, forward, Lowell; Kayla Symanovich, junior, forward, University; Julia Thompson, sophomore, guard, Lick-Wilmerding; Kira Waldman, freshman, guard, Urban; Karen Wong, sophomore, guard, Galileo; Kelly Wong, junior, guard, Lowell; Michelle Wong, senior, forward, Lincoln.