Featured Photo Courtesy of David Gangloff. Click Here for Full Gallery.
Text by Zach Cavanagh
The winter season brings out some of the best teams in San Juan Capistrano high school sports, with championship pedigrees and aspirations all around. Let’s check in with some of the top winter sports teams at San Juan Hills, JSerra, St. Margaret’s, Capistrano Valley Christian and Fairmont San Juan Capistrano:
San Juan Hills Boys Basketball
Last season was the best campaign in in program history for the San Juan Hills boys basketball team.
The Stallions won far-and-away the most games in program history (27), won their second-ever and second straight Sea View League title, advanced to their first CIF-SS quarterfinal, semifinal and title game and captured their first CIF-SS championship.
That team was almost entirely made up of seniors, with its top 11 scorers now graduated. So, where does this next group of Stallions go? How can they live up to that?
San Juan Hills seems to be doing just fine with a 7-3 record including a couple of strong tournament performances. The Stallions have also received contributions up and down the roster.
Senior point guard Rylan Kies was named all-tournament at the Diablo Inferno last week, which included a 26-point night. Juniors Nathan Brosch, Jack Monarek, senior Brody Averell and sophomore Trey Webb have all stepped up on various game days as the Stallions build right back up to contending form.
San Juan Hills jumps up to the South Coast League for the first time this season and opens at San Clemente on Jan. 11.
San Juan Hills Girls Basketball
The San Juan Hills girls basketball team has picked up right where it left off from last season, with more than enough motivation to go even further.
Last season, the Stallions won the South Coast League for the first time and posted their third 20-win season under head coach Paul Edwards. However, the playoff run came up well short for a talented group. The upside was, there wasn’t a single senior in that group, which means this San Juan Hills group can only get better.
San Juan Hills has opened with the best start in program history at 8-0 and just came off a tournament championship at Villa Park, including a school-record 98 points to close out the event.
The Stallions’ leader is senior Amanda Edwards, who notched her 1,000th career point this season and averages just over 10 points a game, but Edwards is just the fourth-leading scorer on the team. Making a huge leap is sophomore Anna Shreeve, who is averaging more than 15 points per game along with 6.5 rebounds per game. Sydney Peterson, a junior, is at just under 15 points per game and over seven rebounds per game. Aryanna Hudson, another junior, is at 14.6 points per game and dishing out over six assists per game.
San Juan Hills, ranked No. 3 in CIF-SS Division 2AA, opens league play at home against Tesoro on Jan. 10.
JSerra Boys Basketball
It was a disappointing CIF-SS final for the JSerra boys basketball team last season, as the Lions dealt with injuries and fell in the Division 1 title game.
This season is a fresh slate for the Lions, and JSerra is taking off with an early dominant form. The Lions are 5-0 and ranked No. 12 in CIF-SS Division 1. JSerra has beaten its opponents by an average of 19 points per game.
Leading the way so far for JSerra are a pair of junior guards in Aidan Fowler and Sebastian Rancik. Fowler is averaging over 18 points per game for the Lions, with 13.4 points per game from Rancik, who also has two double-doubles in five games.
The Lions open Trinity League play against Mater Dei on Jan. 4.
JSerra Boys Soccer
In its first CIF-SS final in 12 years and just its second overall last season, the JSerra boys soccer team suffered a heartbreak, as the Lions fell on penalty kicks to Servite.
JSerra put up the second most wins in program history (17), and the Lions look right back in the swing of things early on with a 3-0 record and the No. 1 ranking in CIF-SS Division 1.
JSerra has allowed only one goal in three games with a 5-1 win over Huntington Beach and 1-0 shutouts over San Juan Hills and Valencia of Placentia. Senior goalkeeper TJ Esseily hasn’t allowed a goal and has made nine saves.
The Lions have had six different goal scorers in their three games, with only junior Noah Parks scoring two. Senior Sidney Dina, Kai Benumof and Nathan Aquino, along with junior Logan Mahoney and sophomore Tanner Casey, have each scored a goal.
JSerra opens Trinity League play at home against Mater Dei on Jan. 4.
St. Margaret’s Girls Basketball
The St. Margaret’s girls basketball team is off to a flying start with a 5-2 record and the No. 1 ranking in CIF-SS Division 5AA. The Tartans have wins over Capistrano Valley, Santiago, Pacifica, La Quinta and Long Beach Cabrillo. It’s been a strong bounce-back start after just nine wins last season and a 1-7 league record.
Pacing the Tartans so far is sophomore guard Harper Gideons, with rebounding from freshman forward Annika Tufo and strong defensive efforts from freshman forward Addie West.
St. Margaret’s opens its first season in the Orange Coast League early on with its opener at Santa Ana on Friday, Dec. 16.
Capistrano Valley Christian Boys Basketball
After an extremely successful five-year tenure of head coach Christopher Childress, which included the program’s first CIF-SS title in 2019 and building up Capistrano Valley Christian to be a player in Orange County basketball, the Eagles boys basketball team is under new management with head coach Jon Bahnsen.
Bahnsen already has the Eagles playing up to their earned reputation with a 7-3 record and a No. 13 ranking in CIF-SS Division 2AA.
The Eagles are led by senior Ariik Mawien, who is averaging over 18 points per game and nearly nine rebounds per game. Michael Ahern, a sophomore, is scoring over 16 points per game, and down low, freshman Benjamin Makelela is averaging over 10 points per game with a whopping 16.1 rebounds per game.
Capistrano Valley Christian opens San Joaquin League play at home against Fairmont Prep of Anaheim on Jan. 10.
Fairmont SJC Boys Basketball
Boys basketball remains the lone full team sport at Fairmont San Juan Capistrano, and after bottoming out with a 1-24 record last season, things are already on the way up for the Warriors.
Fairmont is 4-3 overall, with wins over Garden Grove, Santiago, Ocean View and Oxford Academy. The Warriors have also done enough to warrant a No. 14 ranking in CIF-SS Division 4A.
Fairmont will open Academy League play at home against Newport Christian on Jan. 5.
Zach Cavanagh is the sports editor for Picket Fence Media. Zach is a California Journalism Award winner and has covered sports in Orange County since 2013. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachCav and follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SouthOCSports. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.