As the winter season wraps up and the spring season begins to unfold, now’s a good time to take a look back on some noteworthy performances in the Trinity League over the last three months.
Best Under-the-Radar Player: La’Vette Parker hasn’t been a household name on the Mater Dei boys’ basketball team the last three years, but the Monarchs wouldn’t have gone as far as they did this season without the sharp-shooting guard. Through the Southern Section divisional playoffs, Parker was second on the team in scoring at 15.7 points. He missed six games from late December through mid-January with a thumb injury, but still managed to make 70 3-pointers in 24 games. Probably most surprising is Parker has yet to receive a college scholarship offer, despite having the grades and ability.
Comeback Player of the Year: The senior year for Coco Miller appeared in doubt after the JSerra girls’ basketball star tore her ACL last summer. She didn’t see it that way, however, and slowly worked her way back, making her season debut in early January. Three weeks later, she scored 28 points against Santa Margarita and continued to pick up the pace, leading the Lions back to the Southern Section Division 4AA title game. The UC Santa Barbara recruit ended up averaging 16.8 points in 16 games, including 19.7 over the final 12.
Golden Boot Award: Garrett Amador wasn’t one of the most talked-about Servite boys’ soccer players at the start of the season, but he stole most of the headlines at the end. Amador, a junior, scored a team high 22 goals to lead the Friars to the Division I title, their first in program history. His perfectly placed strike in the semifinals helped seal a 3-2 victory against Loyola and he assisted on the first goal in the championship match against El Toro, lifting Servite to a 2-0 win. He’ll certainly be the most talked-about player for the Friars at the start of next season.
Nerves of Steel Award: Maybe it was because the Mater Dei girls’ soccer team wasn’t supposed to be anywhere near the Southern Section finals, but goalie Madison Puliafico didn’t seem fazed as she stood in front of the goal line before the start of a shootout that would determine the Division I champion. Puliafico stopped the final two attempts by Laguna Hills to preserve the 3-2 shootout win and give the Monarchs their first section title since 2007. Mater Dei wasn’t even ranked in the top 10 in Division I at the end of the regular season.
Second-to-Last Man Standing Award: The Servite wrestling team had never had a grappler reach the state finals heading into this season, but Liam Cronin can now claim to be the first. He made it all the way to the final match in the 106-pound division before losing for the fourth time this season to fellow Trinity League wrestler Cade Olivas of St. John Bosco. Cronin is just a junior, so next year he’ll aim to become the first Servite wrestler to win a state championship.
Wait Until Next Year Award: Orange Lutheran didn’t even have a girls’ water polo team three years ago, but the Lancers have quickly risen, winning the Trinity League title this season and advancing to the Division I quarterfinals. The best part is junior Emma Skelly will be back after scoring 109 goals this winter, 11th most in Orange County.