As they do every holiday season, members of the JSerra Catholic High School Lions girls basketball team visit a senior home and sing Christmas carols.
Now, with Trinity League action in full swing, they’re singing a different tune:
Go out and win.
“I think the league is going to be competitive again, with (powerhouses) Santa Margarita and Orange County Lutheran—and Rosary is always scrappy,” Lions girls basketball coach Mary Rossignol says.
“It’s a great league, and we compete,” Rossignol says. “I’m really proud of our program.”
Orange County Catholic talked to Trinity League varsity hoops coaches about the season, which got under way the first week of January:
The girls basketball team went 10-3 in the regular season, led by post-play powerhouses Megan House (center), a senior who has committed to Pepperdine University, and fellow center Kaitlyn Reese.
Star point guard Coco Miller is working her way back from a torn ACL in July and it is unclear if she will see action during Trinity League play, Rossignol says.
“We pride ourselves on our defense and rebounding,” she says.
Rossignol also praises the scoring talents of two sophomores, shooting guard Julia Ackerman and point guard Lexi Vail.
Boys Eagles Coach Joedy Gardner says team chemistry is very good.
“We can shoot the ball and handle pressure well because the players believe in themselves and their overall skill set,” Gardner says. The team, he notes, is very young and lacks overall experience.
Two seniors expected to play key roles during Trinity League action are the versatile Dillon Kohler, a 6-foot-6 wing player “with a deadly jump shot,” and the athletic Haitham Chehabi, a 6-foot-2 shooting guard. Fellow shooting guard Shane Cavanaugh is one of the team’s best defenders and spot-up shooters, Gardner adds.
“We’re excited about the growth of this program,” Gardner says. “It continues to become one of the better programs in California, with a special emphasis on player development.”
Coach Rich Yoon said his team has little varsity experience but a lot of heart.
“(Forward) Emily Arellanes, named an all-county player by the OC Register, is our only returning starter from last year’s state playoff team,” Yoon said. “We are young, with mostly sophomores and a freshman point guard (Allison Lou). We are a good shooting, full-court pressure team.”
Boys Coach Jeff Reinert’s squad finished 8-1 in the regular season. He praises the leadership of returning varsity players and team captains Colin Ferrier, a junior guard, and big man Scott Wesierski, a senior.
“We have a pretty good team and a decent chance to end up in the upper half of the Trinity League, and if good things happen, we’ll do even better,” Reinert says. Bolstering the team’s roster are two transfers from Mission Viejo High School, brothers Noah (a junior) and Kaden (a sophomore) Rasheed.
“Both are good guards,” Reinert says.
Freshman “big” Jordan Guest and freshman guard J.T. Robinson will be expected to log a lot of minutes, Reinert says—as will sophomore big Garrett Thompson and sophomore guard Garin Green.
“We have a strong guard line,” Reinert notes.
Girls Coach Craig DeBusk says his team has very good chemistry on and off the court.
“The girls enjoy spending time with each other and have built great friendships within the team,” DeBusk says. “They are very coachable players who try and get better as players each day. They are a good shooting team.”
With only one senior (Haley Townsend) on the roster, the lady Eagles are young and must rely on smart play and good fundamentals to make up for the lack of team speed, DeBusk says.
“We need to be more mentally tough and not panic when pressure starts to build,” DeBusk adds. “We need to be a better rebounding team and more assertive in our overall play.”
At 11-1, the girls’ hoops squad is No. 1 in Orange County, the state and, according to ESPN, the nation.
Katie Lou Samuelson, a 6-foot-3 senior, is averaging 33 points per game and has committed to the University of Connecticut.
Andee Velasco, a 5-8 senior point guard, is averaging 11 points and 8 assists per game. She has committed to Loyola Marymount.
Ally Rosenblum, a 6-3 junior center, is averaging 10 points and 7 rebounds per game. She has committed early to UCLA.
“We are a very young team but playing a really tough schedule has helped greatly,” Head Coach Kevin Kiernan says. “Katie Lou is the top player in the country, so that helps!”
Coach John Morris calls his Friars squad “one of the more talented teams we’ve had in a while.”
Morris points to strong leadership from the team’s seniors, as well as great team chemistry.
“We have very solid guard play with bigs who will have an inside presence on both ends of the court,” Morris says.
Standout players include seniors Trevor Treinen and Tyler Davis, junior Cameron Griffin, sophomore Jacob Hughes, and freshmen Pearson Parker and Brendan Harrick.
“We’re young, but our players believe they can compete in our league,” Morris says.