San Pedro High girls soccer once again won the Marine League championship, for a fourteenth consecutive year. Mary Star High had a sensational winter with the boys basketball, boys and girls soccer teams all capturing a league championship, with the boys basketball team repeating as co-Santa Fe League champions.
Port Of Los Angeles girls cross-country won their first league title in five years when it captured the Imperial League crown, while POLA boys volleyball reached the CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division 3 quarterfinals.
Yet, those were just part of the many amazing stories that came out of 2019 as this decade comes to an end. Here are the top ten stories that grabbed the bigger headlines.
1. POLA Girls Volleyball: From The Basement To The Penthouse As CIF-LACS D-4 Champions
Talking about coming from out of nowhere.
POLA girls volleyball wasn’t in this conversation for the Top San Pedro Prep Sports Stories Of 2018, as the Polar Bears were one more Imperial League victory away from winning a league title, and would hereby miss the CIF-LACS Division 4 playoffs.
Now, this program IS THE TOP STORY of 2019.
Even though POLA finished fourth in the Coliseum League, missing a shot at the league title by finishing two games behind King-Drew, the Polar Bears not only returned to postseason play, they would storm into the Division 4 championship match on November 3, outlasting East Valley in four sets to capture the program’s first CIF championship, and the San Pedro-based charter school’s ninth CIF sports crown.
A team that went through the playoffs with just nine girls after starting the season with 14 proved that anything is possible if you believe in yourself. Senior middle blocker Kaylen Scott was named the CIF-LACS Division 4 Player Of The Year after her dominant display of 26 kills in the final win over East Valley.
Lauren Brown, Mia DiCostanzo, Sasha Suggs, Kasandra Soria & Arelyz Marin-Matienzo also made All-City Division 4.
2. San Pedro High Boys Cross Country Captures Seventh CIF-LACS Championship
For the first time in six years, San Pedro is once again on top of the cross-country mountain as they outlasted a very competitive race with Marshall, Palisades Charter and others to become the boys champions for the seventh time in program history on November 23.
Junior Max Arroyo finished first in the race individually while senior Anthony Martinez finished right beside him at third, just five seconds apart.
The girls team finished second behind three-time champion Granada Hills Charter, but both teams would advance to the CIF State Meet in Fresno on November 30.
3. The Amazing Run Of Success For San Pedro High Baseball
A team that had the most potential of all and exceeded many expectations is the San Pedro baseball team.
Starting off strong with an El Segundo Tournament championship, the Pirates would win 18 games in a row at one point, capturing a perfect 10-0 Marine League championship run, but unfortunately had a short stay in the CIF-LACS Open Division playoffs as the top seed, losing 5-3 to eventual three-time defending champion Birmingham in the quarterfinals.
Eleven Pirates made All-Marine League, including Co-Players Of The Year infielder Joshua Duarte and pitcher Travis Connelly, who are both seniors now, along with returning junior outfielder Jake Harper, all three are All-City returnees. Don’t be surprised if these Pirates match the success of 2019 and become the top headline of 2020, as all but three players return.
4. Mary Star High Girls Basketball Goes Statewide
Even though the boys basketball, boys soccer and girls soccer teams all got a Star in the Mary Star High gymnasium for winning a league title, it was the girls basketball team that had the longer, more successful postseason run, and even made history along the way.
The Stars and Coach Of The Year Victor Tuberosi would post a 4-2 playoff record, reaching the CIF-Southern Section Division 5-AA semifinals, and the CIF Southern California Regional Division 5 quarterfinals, becoming the first San Pedro Prep Sports indoor sports team to win a CIF Regional Playoff Game on February 24, when it eliminated Montclair, 34-31 in the first round.
Two players that were the key to the success of Mary Star the entire run was All-CIF Division 5-AA selection Isabella Serrano, a returning junior guard, along with returning senior guard Sarah Leyba.
Already in the current 2019-2020 season, Mary Star got one more magnificent moment from a hometown perspective on December 14 with a convincing 62-28 triumph over San Pedro.
5. San Pedro & Mary Star Football Both Clinch League Titles… By Any Means Necessary
For the first time in a long time, both San Pedro Prep Football teams captured a share of their respective league title, or an outright crown, in the same season.
San Pedro would finish 10-2 overall, 4-0 in the Marine League due to garnering a forfeit win over powerhouse Narbonne of Harbor City, who was ruled ineligible for postseason play due to a few players being deemed ineligible combined in the 2018 & 2019 seasons, which gave the Pirates the outright league crown for the first time since 2011, reaching the semifinals of the Open Division.
Senior RB/LB Joshua Ward had a magnificent year once again for the Pirates on both sides of the ball, being named the CIF-LACS Open Division Defensive Player Of The Year & Marine League Player Of The Year.
Mary Star would garner a share of the Camino Real League title with Cantwell Sacred Heart of Montebello, who defeated the Stars 34-33 on October 25, but failed to clinch the outright crown on November 1 when St. Monica defeated the Cardinals, and the Stars would defeat Bishop Montgomery, 28-26 to clinch a share of the crown.
Senior running back Aaron Martinez and a dominant offensive line paced by Camino Real League Lineman Of The Year Jesse Tello was the catalyst for the Double Wing-T offense that amassed a total of 4,715 yards and 62 touchdowns, averaging 393 yards per game where Mary Star would finish 9-3, bowing in the CIF-SS Division 14 quarterfinals, 27-20 to Vista Del Lago.
6. POLA Baseball Posts School Record For Wins & Reaches CIF-LACS Division 3 Semifinals
This past school year probably wasn’t among the best for POLA even though girls soccer regained the Imperial League championship. The only other league champion was baseball, who had a season that even eclipsed their 2014 Division 3 championship team in terms of overall victories.
The 2019 baseball edition of the Polar Bears won 24 games, ten more than their lone CIF championship team, but wasn’t able to match the success of 2014 as it fell in the semifinals to eventual champion Vaughn of San Fernando as the top seed of Division 3.
Still, it was a season worthy of celebrating. Watch out for senior catcher Anthony D’Anna and junior outfielder Rudy Rios, as both are expected to have breakout seasons in 2020.
7. Mary Star High Girls Volleyball Has Record-Setting Season For Victories
2019 truly was a great year for all of girls volleyball, but none had a season as magnificent as Mary Star High girls volleyball.
Sure, they didn’t win a CIF-SS championship as their dreams were shattered in a four-set quarterfinal loss to Nordhoff, but coaches Sean Zuvich and Lauren Orebo coached a very talented and determined team that would win a school-record 32 matches, including capturing the Artesia Tournament and the Camino Real League championship.
At one point, the Stars won 18 matches in a row.
All-CIF Division 6 selections Sammie Sabra and Arizona commit Serena Ramirez will both return for 2020.
8. Mary Star High Softball Goes Undefeated In The Camino Real League
Yet another team that had a Star-studded campaign in 2019 was the softball team.
Going 12-0 in the Camino Real League, winning 15 consecutive games, and even posting a solid 3-0 road victory at Redondo Union makes for another season worth talking about, as Mary Star was loaded with untapped potential. Sadly, the Stars didn’t parlay the regular season success into another long playoff run, as they were outsted in the first round, 3-2 by Culver City in Division 4.
The incredible All-CIF tandem of pitcher Alessandra Samperio and shortstop Ashley Rico returns… as does everyone else but the now-graduated Rose Amalfitano, for the upcoming 2020 season.
9. San Pedro High Girls Volleyball Ends Carson’s Vaunted 71-Match Marine Win Streak
Rounding out the success of girls volleyball in 2019 is San Pedro, who did something for the first and only time all decade, something that even last year’s top story, the 2018 CIF-LACS Division 1 championship team couldn’t… find a way to conquer mighty Carson.
October 3 was no doubt the finest hour for the Pirates, who not only defeated Carson in straight sets which shocked everyone but themselves, it ended the Colts’ long winning streak in the Marine League at 71 games, plus a 20-game losing streak to the Colts was finally put to rest.
Spirited efforts from senior outside hitter Alexis Avitia and the junior opposite hitting duo of Cassidy Espinosa and Alyson Watson triggered the win, but it was the performance of freshman libero Paige Courtney (21 digs, five aces) that garnered most of the attention.
10. Signing Days Galore
The Spring of 2019 saw the POLA softball duo of Allison Torstensen and Yolanda Racaza sign with George Mason and Chaminade of Hawaii respectively, while San Pedro’s girls swimmer Ema Kakazu (UC Santa Barbara) & volleyball libero Hanna Gurrola (Cincinnati Christian) also signed. The Fall of 2019 had three signing days take place, as Samperio and Rico joined Mary Star girls soccer senior Katy Lindberg (Northern Colorado) in a triple signing day ceremony in November. Then in December, Ward signed with UC Davis. In yet another ceremony, POLA softball senior outfielder Briana Vigil signed with Westcliff University in Irvine.