Throughout the school year, SoCal Prep Legends has been recognizing the best high school student-athletes in Southern California. As the end of the spring sports season approaches, SoCal Prep Legends will announce award winners in 11 categories, including boys and girls Athlete of the Year winners.
In the weeks ahead, we’ll announce finalists for the awards from KABC and the Southern California News Group that includes 11 news outlets throughout Southern California.
Here are the nominees for Game of the Year:
Taft girls soccer wins first City title with epic comeback
In a matchup that epitomized a David vs. Goliath scenario, the Woodland Hills girls soccer team rode a historic season into its first L.A. City Section Division 1 finals appearance against El Camino Real.
While Taft was looking to make history and cap off something improbable, El Camino Real was looking to capture its 14th City championship.
It looked like El Camino would raise another trophy with a 2-0 lead with 13 minutes left in the match, but Taft rallied to pull off one of the most incredible comebacks in finals history. With Taft head coach Walter Escobar imploring his team to take chances, Taft scored goals in the final 12 minutes, including an outstanding volley from Kelly Diaz for the game-winning goal and 3-2 victory.
Rancho Cucamonga vs. Vista Murrieta 5OT thriller, football
It took a remarkable five overtimes to decide the winner of the CIF-Southern Section West Valley Division semifinal football game between Rancho Cucamonga and Vista Murrieta in late November, and the drama built with each overtime period.
Rancho Cucamonga erased an 18-point deficit in the fourth quarter to force overtime in what eventually turned into 62-56 Vista Murrieta victory. After a 35-35 tie in regulation, the teams went back-and forth in each overtime period before Vista Murrieta’s Cole Dubots ended all the drama with a nine-yard touchdown run to win the game in the fifth overtime.
La Habra vs. San Clemente hail mary finish, football
La Habra’s Hail Mary finish had everyone talking and few believing what they witnessed following the CIF-SS Southwest Division championship game on Dec. 4 against San Clemente.
La Habra, which won its seventh CIF-SS title since 2002, jumped to a 33-21 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter. San Clemente came back and took the lead on an 11-play, 84-yard touchdown that ended with Jack Sears’ four-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Reaves, putting San Clemente ahead, 36-33, with 20 seconds remaining. Apparently, that was more than enough time for La Habra quarterback Eric Barriere. After quickly driving to the Tritons’ 27-yard line with five seconds left, Barriere threw a prayer into the night sky to the back corner of the end zone where a diving Prince Ross caught it while dragging his feet inbounds for an amazing finish and 39-36 victory.
Chino Hills takes down Montverde Academy, boys basketball
The victory against Florida’s Montverde Academy super team on Dec. 21 is what most claim was the Chino Hills’ boys basketball coming out party. The Huskies edged No. 1 in the country Montverde 83-82 in the quarterfinals of the City of Palms Classic, which turned Chino Hills into the nation’s top-ranked high school basketball team in most polls.
Montverde, a boarding school that recruits basketball players and doesn’t compete in the Florida playoffs because of the profile of the school, had won the previous two national championships and was undefeated until it met California’s super team. The Huskies led by as many as 16 points but held on behind UCLA recruit Lonzo Ball with 29 points and six assists and his freshman brother, LiAngelo Ball, who had 32 points.
Chino Hills finished the season undefeated and claimed the mythical national title.
Leaonna Odom’s buzzer-beater lifts Chaminade to Regional crown, girls basketball
Chaminade’s Valerie Higgins crossed halfcourt with time winding down in the CIF Southern Section Open Division SoCal Regional title game against Long Beach Poly, then made a great decision. Higgins passed to Duke-commit Leaonna Odom, who stepped back to create space and let it fly. The shot bounced off the rim forever, but eventually fell through for a dramatic 50-49 victory. The victory berthed Chaminade into the State Open Division final, which they captured a week later.
SCPL Awards Show: The year will be topped off by an awards show hosted by SoCal Prep Legends and sponsored by Toyota on June 10 to recognize the nominees and winners for each category. Location and time of the show is still to be announced.
Leading up to the SCPL awards show, we will announce the remaining nominees for the following categories weekly:
-Boys Athlete of the Year
-Girls Athlete of the Year
-Play of the Year
-Scholar Athlete of the Year (Boy/Girl)
-Coach of the Year
-Most Outstanding Individual Performance
-Best Student Section/School Spirit (Fan Vote)