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2015-2016 HMG-CN WINTER ALL-AREA TEAMS: Valley Christian basketball, boys soccer teams highlight winter season

By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter

A season that saw such high expectations for the Cerritos High and Valley Christian High boys basketball teams, especially with each starting five seniors, fell short in the quarterfinals of the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section playoffs. The Valley Christian boys soccer team, which was looking for a return trip to the state playoffs, also fell in the quarterfinals. The basketball season, especially on the girls side, was also a rough one with several area teams losing key players for extensive time. In any event, those basketball and soccer teams have many players who were deserving of being named to the 2015-2016 HMG-Community News Winter All-Area Teams.



Marvin Bragg (Gahr)

Stedmon Bryant (Valley Christian)

Evan Leonard (Cerritos)

Vaj Rice (Valley Christian)

Kristopher Smith (Gahr)


Evan Anderson (Gahr)

Heder Gladden (Artesia)

Ronald Massey (Valley Christian)

Uchenna Nnoli (Cerritos)

Brandon Yoon (Cerritos)


K.J. Hardrict (Whitney)

Jordan Mitchell (Valley Christian)

Justin Smith (Gahr)

David Suarez (Norwalk)

Jordan Volpei (Norwalk)


Hugo Anguiano (John Glenn)

Heaven Flores (Whitney)

Jaylen Jones (Cerritos)

Devion Smith (Artesia)

Keno Valdenor (Norwalk)


Rian Hughing (Artesia)

Zak Jannane (Artesia)

Kody Pitts (Artesia)

Timothy En (Cerritos)

Jason Fernandez (Cerritos)

Destin Flucas (Cerritos)

Jyvonnte Moore (Cerritos)

Tony Crosby (Gahr)

Gary Williams (Gahr)

Cruz Gomez (John Glenn)

Jacob Molina (Norwalk)

Jalen Hines (Valley Christian)

Johnny Johnson (Valley Christian)

Aaron Purnell (Valley Christian)

Ben Barnett (Whitney)

Adi Jahic (Whitney)

Daniel Sou (Whitney)

Player of the Year: For the second straight season, Cerritos senior Evan Leonard clearly was in a class by himself. Bound for the University of California, Irvine, Leonard led all area players with 539 points and averaged 22.5 points per game in 24 games played. Leonard missed six games in late December and when he returned to the lineup, he scored at least 20 points in 10 of the last 14 games he played. Leonard also scored a career-high 43 points on Dec. 4, 2015 against Millikan High.

Coach of the Year: Considering how brutal the Olympic League can be, and despite finishing the season with a 15-15 record, Valley Christian’s Bryan Branderhorst saw his team nearly upset California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division IV-A champion Viewpoint in the quarterfinals. The Crusaders dropped a 61-59 overtime decision and despite not making it to the semifinals for a second straight season, Branderhorst coached the Crusaders to consecutive non-losing seasons for the first time since the 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 seasons. He now has 156 wins in his 10 seasons at V.C.



Naomi Ellis (Gahr)

Tatiana Fominyam (Cerritos)

Cheyenne McKinnie (Valley Christian)

Ifeoma Okoli (Cerritos)

Danielle Tate (Norwalk)


Katy Feller (Valley Christian)

Christine Hamakawa (Whitney)

Nicole Lee (Whitney)

Alana Soltis (Gahr)

Cailey Vitug (Cerritos)


Hannah Kumiyama (Gahr)

Crystal Lambey (Norwalk)

Dalilah Mendoza (John Glenn)

Tracy Nakamura (Cerritos)

Zharia Simmons (Artesia)


Ariel Gordon (Valley Christian)

Saurianna Harrison (John Glenn)

Savannah Madrid (John Glenn)

Teresa Torres (Cerritos)

Justine Wu (Whitney)


Samantha Cruz (Artesia)

Riley Woolf (Artesia)

Bethany Huang (Cerritos)

Kalea Trias (Cerritos)

Dezirae Smith (Gahr)

Nori Smith (Gahr)

Gloria Hernandez (John Glenn)

Vanessa Rouse (John Glenn)

Melanie Arias (Norwalk)

Destiny Hurtado (Norwalk)

Bianca Torres (Norwalk)

Calla Anderson (Valley Christian)

Larren Crawford (Valley Christian)

Caitlin Cheung (Whitney)

Deja Forest (Whitney)

Kiana Sanchez (Whitney)

LiMea Vera (Whitney)

Co-Players of the Year: Their scoring averages may not have been real high, but there was more that came out of Cerritos senior Tatiana Fominyam and Cerritos junior Ifeoma Okoli. While both of them scored a combined 535 points and averaged almost 23 points together, they were a force on the boards and would mostly assist on each other’s basket. Okoli posted a career-high 26 points on Dec. 30 at Marina High and reached double figures in scoring 19 times while Fominyam hit 20 points twice and at least 15 points another four times.

Coach of the Year: What a turnaround for Valley Christian head coach Dominic Freeman in just his second season. Freeman guided the Lady Crusaders to a 16-12 record as the program enjoyed its first winning season since the 2010-2011 campaign. At one point, V.C. was eight games above .500 and had a 4-1 Olympic League mark.



GK-Saul Ocampo (Artesia)

F-Steven Espinoza (Artesia)

F-Roger Ramos (Valley Christian)

F-Francisco Sierra (Artesia)

M-Clay D’Amico (Valley Christian)

M-Alex Florez (Cerritos)

M-Jesus Gudino (Artesia)

M-Jorge Pantoja (Artesia)

D-Blake Christensen (Valley Christian)

D-Brent Van Meeteren (Valley Christian)

D-Randy Rodriguez (Gahr)


GK-Misha Marson (Valley Christian)

F-Manolo Cevallos (Cerritos)

F-Noah Silverman (Valley Christian)

F-Andrew Vasquez (Norwalk)

M-Josh Akrofi (Valley Christian)

M-Trent Berkenkamp (Valley Christian)

M-Rudy Cruz (Norwalk)

M-Klay Solomon (Valley Christian)

D-Javier Gonzales (Artesia)

D-Miguel Cabrera (Norwalk)

D-Luis Jimenez (Gahr)

Player of the Year-Valley Christian’s Clay D’Amico turned it on when it counted the most. The junior midfielder scored six of his team-leading 10 goals in Olympic League action and three more in the California Interscholastic Federation-Division VI playoffs.

Coach of the Year-In his first year as Valley Christian’s head coach, Andy Anderson kept the school’s tradition alive. Anderson guided the Crusaders to a 12-7-3 mark and the school’s fourth straight Olympic League title. The seven league victories were the most since V.C. went 8-0-0 in the 2005-2006 season.



GK-Destinee Montenegro (Artesia)

F-Alondra Acosta (Artesia)

F-Brittany Llanes (Artesia)

F-Julie Sainz (Valley Christian)

M-Michelle Albarca (Artesia)

M-Roshni Edwards (Cerritos)

M-Chloe Garris (Valley Christian)

M-Kennedy Wesley (Valley Christian)

D-Terry Avila (Artesia)

D-Sarah Petrus (Valley Christian)

D-Erin Pierce (Cerritos)


GK-Yvette Galicia (Cerritos)

F-Jessica Chen (Cerritos)

F-Jazmin Gomez (Norwalk)

F-Lauren Waites (Cerritos)

M-Andrea Anguiano (Norwalk)

M-Lauryn Bautista (Cerritos)

M-Karina Murguia (Artesia)

M-Breanna Sandoval (Norwalk)

D-Samantha Hernandez (Gahr)

D-Kelly McKittrick (Valley Christian)

D-Guadalupe Trejo (Artesia)

Player of the Year-In two short years, Artesia High’s Brittany Llanes has emerged as one of the best soccer players in school history. The sophomore forward led the Pioneers, and the area, with 18 goals. All but five of those goals came in Suburban League action, including nine goals in two games against John Glenn High. Llanes now has 28 goals in two seasons with Artesia with 19 coming in league play.

Coach of the Year-Cerritos may have missed the playoffs for the third straight season but first-year head coach Robert Adams has the Lady Dons heading in the right direction. Cerritos bolted out to an 8-2-2 record before finishing in fifth place in the Suburban League and an overall mark of 10-9-2. It was the fourth time in the past six seasons that Cerritos won at least 10 games. The Lady Dons graduate just their starting goalkeeper and are expected to return a lot of experienced juniors and sophomores from this past season’s squad.