Motivated Keyla Romo leads Orangewood Academy girls basketball past rival Fairmont Prep

GARDEN GROVE — Orangewood Academy’s girls basketball team seized the victory it needed Wednesday, May 5 to stay in contention for the San Joaquin League title.

Keyla Romo made sure it counted for her grandmother, too.

On a night in which baskets were hard to come by, the guard sank a career-best four 3-pointers to help the No. 5 Spartans knock off visiting No. 2 Fairmont Prep 44-29 on the same day her grandmother died in Mexico after a fight with COVID-19.

Romo pounded her chest after one of her three first-half 3-pointers and drilled one more with 2:41 left in the fourth quarter en route to 14 points, which matched Hannah Stines for game-high honors.

“I was emotionally broke but then I realized that she wanted me to play hard and play for her,” Romo said of her grandmother Maria, who lived in Chihuahua, Mexico. “That’s what motivated me.”

Orangewood Academy (5-3, 3-1) avenged an earlier loss to Fairmont Prep (8-5, 4-1) in league and now moves on to play Sage Hill (10-2, 1-1) in back-to-back games May 12-13.

Romo said her grandmother was a fixture of her childhood and also a positive influence during the injury struggles as a sophomore and junior. She suffered a torn ACL just prior to her sophomore season and missed most of her junior season after having a second surgery due to scar tissue.

“She said I was her star,” Romo said of her grandmother.

Romo added a team-high four steals to help lead the Spartans’ defense. Orangewood Academy opened in a 2-3 defense before switching to a matchup zone.

“She played the game of her life,” Orangewood Academy coach Leslie Aragon said of Romo, an uncommitted 5-foot-10 senior. “All of those 3s. She came out with energy. She keys a lot of the stuff on defense. .. She was tough as nails. I’m so proud of her.”

Romo shared the spotlight with Stines, who scored 10 points in the second half and added 15 rebounds. The junior highlighted the fourth quarter by diving for a loose ball and then driving in heavy traffic on the ensuing possession for a left-handed layup to give the Spartans a 42-29 lead.

Amaya Lacy added 10 points and nine rebounds for Orangewood Academy. Aixchel Hernandez also helped the defense with two blocks and nine rebounds.

The Spartans made 1 of 13 shots from the floor in the second quarter to lead 19-13 at intermission.

Makaila Glynn led Fairmont Prep with 12 points and three steals. The Huskies made 1 of their first 17 3 pointers.

“We got the shots we wanted but just couldn’t hit tonight,” Fairmont Prep coach Sara Brown said.

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Capistrano Valley basketball takes care of Trabuco Hills with stingy defense

MISSION VIEJO — The Capistrano Valley boys basketball team stayed unbeaten by using a smothering defense to beat Trabuco Hills 58-35 in a South Coast League game Friday night at Capistrano Valley High.

The Cougars (8-0, 3-0) held the Mustangs (3-2, 1-2) to seven points in the first and third periods.

The Mustangs trailed 17-7 entering the second quarter, and were behind 33-21 at halftime.

Cougars coach Brian Mulligan was pleased with his team’s defensive intensity from the outset.

“We pretty much talked about defense after the Tesoro game the other night because we weren’t very good defensively,” Mulligan said. “This team (Trabuco Hills) scores easy, so again, getting the defense right makes the whole thing way more functional. We did defend and rebound well tonight.”

The Cougars, who are ranked No. 3 in Orange County, had three players score in double figures, led by Gavin O’Neill with a game-high 16 points. O’Neill also hit three 3-pointers in the second half. Gavin Thompson finished with 11 points, all in the first half, while Aidan O’Neill added 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Joey Longo had 12 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, for Trabuco, which is No. 23 in the county.

Kyle McLain and Longo hit back-to-back threes to get Trabuco Hills within 19-13 in the second quarter, but that was as close as it would get.

Gavin O’Neill and Thompson started to take control at that point. O’Neill’s three-point play gave the Cougars a 22-13 lead, Thompson hit a shot from behind the arc and scored on a putback on the next possession to give Capo Valley a 27-13 lead.

“Thompson battled. He cares, and he’s my only junior out there,” Mulligan said, “and they’re learning to trust him a lot more.” Mulligan said.

Gavin O’Neill knocked down his first 3-pointer in the third to give the Cougars a 42-25 advantage. He went on the drill two more 3s in the fourth quarter.

“We were a little disappointed that we couldn’t make a 3 in the first half, but Gavin is a really good outside shooter. His brother (Aidan) is actually a really good outside shooter too, it makes it easy for me to coach,” Mulligan said.

Langston Redfield contributed eight points, 11 rebounds and five assists, and Landon Li was a defensive menace to the Mustangs backcourt.

“My four main guys that play almost all the minutes,” Mulligan said, referring to the O’Neill twins, Redfield and Li, “boy, they play well together.”

Capo Valley will face Mission Viejo on Wednesday, May 5 in a South Coast League game.

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Seniors rally Huntington Beach girls basketball past Fountain Valley

HUNTINGTON BEACH — The situation appeared dire for Huntington Beach High’s girls basketball team in the fourth quarter on Thursday, April 29.

Orange County’s eighth-ranked squad trailed hot-shooting No. 25 Fountain Valley by five points with less than five minutes left in the Surf League game.

But the Oilers’ seniors leaned on the theme of the night for some extra motivation.

“It’s Senior Night,” senior center Andie Payne later said with a laugh. “It’s kind of one you want to win.”

And Huntington Beach’s seniors showed how much they wanted it.

Payne, Jessica Doke, Minami Cheever and Alyssa Real each made key plays in the clutch to help the Oilers rally for a hard-fought 57-48 victory to improve to 10-0 overall, and 2-0 in the Surf League.

Huntington Beach, the two-time defending league champion, closed the fourth on a 16-2 run to hold off the Barons (6-4, 0-2) and twins Audrey and Margaret Tengan.

“All the seniors stepped up,” said Payne, who scored 23 points and a grabbed a season-high 25 rebounds. “I’m so happy we won this game.”

After Fountain Valley took a 46-41 lead on a 3-pointer by Audrey Tengan with 5:26 remaining, Huntington Beach started its surge on a long 3-pointer from Real.

Cheever then tied the score 46-46 by finishing a strong, post-up move with her off hand with 3:26 left.

After Payne recorded her fourth block, sophomore guard Akemi Tanga drove for the go-ahead layup with 2:50 remaining. Payne and Doke, listed at 6-foot-1 and 6-foot respectively, used their height advantage to add baskets in the post and the Oilers were on their way.

A three-point play by Doke off a putback rebound capped a 12-0 run and gave the Oilers a 53-46 lead with 1:35 left.

“They’re just too big for us,” Fountain Valley coach Marianne Karp said. “When you got big players like that who are strong, that ‘s difficult to overcome sometimes but our kids are quick. They work hard.”

Karp played a smaller lineup in the third quarter and the Barons responded by erasing a 27-18 deficit at halftime to lead 39-36 going into the fourth.

Margaret Tengan, a junior guard, scored nine of her team-high 18 points in the third. Audrey Tengan also reached double figures with 10 points.

Fountain Valley showed plenty of progress with the effort. The Barons, playing without starter Enya Nguyen (concussion), lost 60-41 to Corona del Mar earlier in the week and fell 53-27 to the Oilers in a nonleague game.

Despite his team fast start, Huntington Beach coach Russ McClurg knows his team faces a challenge at Corona del Mar on Tuesday. “They’re the team to beat,” he said.

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Ian Jones finishes strong, helps Sonora basketball pull out victory over La Habra

LA HABRA – As Sonora headed into the fourth quarter of Friday’s boys basketball game against La Habra, Raiders coach Mike Murphy took a suggestion from one of his seniors.

Not only did Ian Jones call the right play, but his shot was on, as he scored 16 of his 29 points in the final quarter to lead the Raiders to a come-from-behind 62-57 victory over the Highlanders in a Freeway League game at La Habra High.

“Not only was he phenomenal with his jumper, but he was the one that said, ‘Coach, we have to run this play,” Sonora coach Mike Murphy said. “If we run this play (Dribble) I’m going to be open in the gap, and if I’m not open, the corners will be open,’ and he was exactly right.

“Not only was he our best player tonight, but he was our best coach because that play is what won the game tonight. Not only that he made his shots, but that he brought up the play to call it.”

Postgame interview with Sonora coach Mike Murphy as the Raiders come from behind to beat La Habra thanks to the advice from one of his seniors.@ocvarsity @SteveFryer @SGVNSports @James_Escarcega @SOHSBBall @SOHS_APSA

— Manny Alvarez (@MAlvarez02) April 24, 2021

Sonora (7-7, 2-0 in league) took a 14-6 lead at the end of the first quarter, but the Highlanders (4-4, 1-1) took control of the game in the second quarter thanks to Victor Covarrubias-Vargas’ hot hand.

Covarrubias-Vargas, who led La Habra with 18 points, kept the Highlanders in the lead, 42-40, going into the fourth quarter.

Sonora tried to find ways to slow him down in the second half.

“We made adjustments on who was guarding who,” Jones said. “We switched it up between a box-and-one and man-to-man defense. We had to stay composed and grab the boards and get the rebounds. We had to make huge baskets when it mattered the most.”

Postgame interview with Ian Jones of Sonora. 29 points for Mr. Jones as he lead the Raiders to the comeback victory!

@SOHS_APSA @SOHSBBall @ocvarsity @SGVNSports @SteveFryer

— Manny Alvarez (@MAlvarez02) April 24, 2021

Jones also led the Raiders in rebounds with eight.

Daniel Esparza scored 19 points with seven rebounds for Sonora while Garrett Icenhower added seven points and seven rebounds.

Kai Smith scored 14 points for La Habra, Trindad Arciaga grabbed nine rebounds and Nick Berduo added eight points.

La Habra plays Buena Park on Wednesday, April 28. Sonora will take on La Serna on Saturday, April 24.

“We just have to come out and play the right way and play hard,” Esparza said. “We have to watch some film on them and just go all out.”

Postgame interview with Daniel Esparza of Sonora. 19 points for Esparza as his teammate Ian Jones delivered tonight!@SOHS_APSA @SOHSBBall @SteveFryer @SGVNSports @James_Escarcega @ocvarsity

— Manny Alvarez (@MAlvarez02) April 24, 2021

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Girls basketball notes: Three standout players suffer season-ending knee injuries

Three Orange County girls basketball standouts have suffered season-ending knee injuries.

Capistrano Valley High senior Leah Manning, San Juan Hills senior Emily Freeman and San Clemente junior Jolie Johnson are among the county players who have been injured early in the spring season.

Manning, a third-team All-County selection last season, suffered a knee injury last week against Dana Hills but will not need surgery, her father Tim said. Her plan is undergo physical therapy for the next 10 to 12 weeks, he said.

Freeman, a senior bound for Irvine Valley College, tore her ACL against Tustin, Stallions coach Paul Edwards said. “Such a heart-breaking scenario for a fantastic, senior kid,” Edwards said of Freeman, who made a school-record 83 3-pointers last season.

Freeman was a fourth-team All-County selection last season and co-MVP of the Sea View League.

Johnson suffered an ACL injury against Rosary and will miss the season, Tritons coach Kerri Husbands said. She helped the Tritons reach the CIF finals last season.

San Clemente junior Riley Brown (knee) also is out for season because of a knee injury from playing beach volleyball in the fall, the coach said.

Orangewood Academy all-league guard Kaila Woo suffered a torn ACL in February, Spartans coach Leslie Aragon said.


JSerra will forfeit the first half of its Trinity League season due to lack of players and “unforeseen circumstances”, the school announced this week.

Second-year coach Geoffrey Clayton said this week the new CIF calendar, the ongoing club season and injuries have left the Lions with a “low” number of players.

JSerra, which has yet to play a game this spring, earlier lost center Ava Carter to a season-ending shoulder injury. Clayton’s freshman daughter, Jailynn, also has been slowed by injury.

“It’s really an unfortunate situation,” Clayton said. “The girls have been working extremely hard for the past year but the pandemic has had an enormous impact on us this year.”

This week. JSerra was scheduled to play Mater Dei on Wednesday and Santa Margarita on Friday.

Please send girls basketball news to Dan Albano at or @ocvarsityguy on Twitter

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Sonora girls basketball upsets Freeway League powerhouse Troy again

LA HABRA — Point guard Alyssa Ke played the role of promising freshman in January 2018 when Sonora High’s girls basketball team upset Troy to snap the Warriors’ state record for consecutive league victories at 219.

On Wednesday, April 21, she excelled in the role of clutch, senior point guard as the Raiders shook up the Orange County basketball scene again.

Ke scored a game-high 16 points and teamed with fellow guards Haylie Dermer and Jazmin Sheikh to lead No. 11 Sonora to a convincing 48-33 victory against visiting No. 6 Troy in the Freeway League opener for each school.

Ke sank a 3-pointer from the top of the circle with about 20 seconds left in the first half to give the Raiders (6-3, 1-0) the lead for good at 20-19. In the second half, she helped her squad lead last season’s CIF Division 1 runner-up by as many as 19 points.

“I really felt we were going to win — I didn’t know it was going to be by this much,” Ke said. “We just knew how to run all their plays and we were really prepared. Coach (Melissa Barajas) really prepared us.”

Ke, Dermer (11 points) and Sheikh (13 points) each sank three 3-pointers apiece en route to reaching double figures against Troy (6-5, 0-1), which is learning to play without standout junior Hannah Stines, now at Orangewood Academy.

The Raiders made 9 of 16 attempts from beyond the arc but also defended and rebounded well. They held Troy point guard Bella Pearson to 12 points, including one second-half field goal, and limited Pacific-bound center Indigo Parker to eight points, eight rebounds. Parker collected four blocks on defense.

“I preach defense and I’m just so proud how our kids defended,” said Barajas, in her 19th season. “They really followed our defensive game plan to a T and they battled on the boards.”

Mia Miyatake, a 5-foot-8 senior, guarded the 6-foot-5 Parker mostly from behind and focused on being physical and rebounding. “If she (Parker) was going to hit a ton of shots, we were going to have to live with that because we just don’t have the size,” Barajas said.

Miyatake and sophomore Larissa Robles also chipped in four points for Sonora.

Troy made only 1 of 8 attempts from beyond the arc. The Warriors also were 2 for 10 from the floor in the fourth quarter.

They’ll play host to the Raiders on May 7 and could need to a victory to earn a share of the league crown and extend their state-record streak of consecutive league titles to 29.

“They played hard. They hit the shots,” Troy coach Roger Anderson said of Sonora. “All I’m hoping is we continue to get better.”

Troy’s duo of forwards Maggie Teven and Aliyah Gonzalez combined for nine points, nine rebounds and four assists.

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Girls basketball roundup: Taylor Feldman leads Crean Lutheran past Bonita in Division 2AA showdown

IRVINE — Crean Lutheran High’s girls basketball team served notice Wednesday, April 14 that it will be ready for the new playoff divisions this spring.

Junior guard Taylor Feldman scored 39 points and sophomore forward Maya Bland added 21 rebounds as the host Saints defeated visiting Bonita of La Verne 58-47 in a nonleague game between CIF Division 2AA contenders.

Taylor Feldman been working in pandemic! Oh my! ⁦@ocvarsity⁩ ⁦@creanlutheranhs🏀💯

— Dan Albano (@ocvarsityguy) April 15, 2021

Crean Lutheran (4-2) transitions this season to Division 2AA from Division 3AA, the group it almost captured last year, falling to Santa Monica 44-40 in the championship.

Bonita (2-1) returns three returners starters from a squad that reached the second round of the 2AA playoffs last season and is the defending co-champion of the Palomares League.

Some observes in the county believed Wednesday’s game would provide a better read on Crean Lutheran’s status in the division, plus the chances for teams such as Tesoro, San Juan Hills, Tustin, Orange Lutheran, Brea Olinda, Canyon and Corona del Mar among others.

“It’s a great win for us,” said Feldman, who scored 22 points in the second half. “And great to see that it’s not like a huge, ‘Oh, no, we’re in Division 2AA.’ We can beat teams. We got this. We just need to build that confidence up, and then we’ll be perfectly fine.”

Crean Lutheran’s opening to the second half will certainly help with confidence. After Bonita’s Lauryn Urend sank a 3-pointer from the corner just before the halftime buzzer to trim the Saints’ lead to 30-24, Crean Lutheran started the third period with an 11-0 run.

Feldman scored first off a backdoor cut and dish from fellow junior guard Emily Reed, who finished with 12 points. The speedy guard then grabbed a long rebound off a 3-point attempt and raced for the layup.

But the trademark of the surge was Crean Lutheran’s defensive pressure, and press that ignited its fast-break. Bland and Feldman anchored the defense with multiple steals.

“They work so well together,” said Crean Lutheran coach Bianca Ziemann, who started two sophomores, two juniors and a senior. “We’re very young but every game we’re getting better and better, and that’s what I’m most proud of. Our defense did great tonight.”

The Saints, ranked No. 16 in Orange County, were especially effective slowing on Bryanna Graham, Bonita’s leading scorer on the early season. She scored all 12 of her points in the second half. Alisha Wilson led Bonita with 13 points and provided a strong presence in the post.

Feldman took care of the offense, using multiple fakes to attack the basket for layups and floaters. She nearly matched her season-high of 43 points without sinking a 3-pointer.

Bonita coach Taylor Anderson said rebounding and guarding Feldman were problematic.

“She’s a phenomenal player,” Anderson said. “You have to make sure that your help-side (defense) is there. … She’s the best guard that we’ve faced so far.”

Reed sank two 3-pointers in the first period to help the Saints open a 17-6 lead. Senior Maddie Snyder added one of her two field-goals for the Saints in the opening quarter.

In other games:

No. 6 Fairmont Prep 44, No. 10 San Clemente 12: Mia Yamamoto scored 12 points to lead the host Huskies past the Tritons, who were missing three starters.

No. 24 Anaheim 60, No. 22 Santiago 55: Serena Ileleji scored 26 points to pace the visiting Colonists (5-3).

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Orange County girls basketball top 25 rankings, April 14

Orange County girls basketball rankings for the 2021 spring season.


(Records through April 13)

1. Mater Dei (4-0): The Monarchs closest game so far is a 41-point victory, and Anaheim and Fairmont Prep are next this week.

2. Orangewood Academy (0-0): The Spartans open at Centennial Corona on Friday.

3. Troy (5-3): The Warriors handled San Clemente 58-31 on Tuesday behind 14 points by Endigo Parker.

4. Sage Hill (5-1): Lightning point guard Isabel Gomez posted a triple-double against Westminster on Monday.

5. Rosary (4-1):Kaylee Byon stayed hot with 24 points in a 61-46 victory against Aliso Niguel on Monday but Sierra Canyon and Etiwanda loom this week.

6. Fairmont Prep (4-2): The Huskies handled Tustin on Tuesday behind 22 points by Mia Yamamoto.

7. Aliso Niguel (4-4): Credit the Wolverines for playing a challenging schedule, including Esperanza, Harvard-Westlake, Fairmont Prep and Rosary in their last four.

8. Esperanza (3-2)

Aztecs have won three straight after opening with losses to Mater Dei and Aliso Niguel.

9. Huntington Beach (6-0)

Center Andie Payne created havoc for opponents early in her senior season.

10. San Clemente (1-3)

Tritons trailed Troy by 22 points at halftime Tuesday but were more competitive in the second half.

11. Sonora (3-3)

12. Tesoro (3-1)

13. Orange Lutheran (5-2)

14. San Juan Hills (5-2) 

15. Tustin (7-3)

16. Crean Lutheran (3-2)

17. Corona del Mar (2-4)

18. Brea Olinda (2-1)

19. Foothill (6-2)

20. Villa Park (3-2)

21. JSerra (0-0)

22. Santiago (4-0)

23. Canyon (4-6)

24. Anaheim (4-3) 

25. Portola (4-0)

Also considered: Kennedy, Fountain Valley, Oxford Academy

Please send feedback to Dan Albano at or @ocvarsityguy on Twitter

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2019-20 athletes & coaches of the year, All-County teams, Outstanding Seniors

A look back at the OCVarsity award winners for the 2019-20 high school sports season.

Athletes and coaches of the year and All-County teams were selected for the fall and winter sports. For the spring sports, which had their season cut short by COVID-19, the Register chose an Outstanding Senior for each sport.

OCVarsity 2020 Athletes & Coaches of the Year page



Offensive Player of the Year: Bryce Young, Mater Dei

Defensive Player of the Year: Clark Phillips III, La Habra

Coach of the Year: Nick Karavedas, Sunny Hills

All-County team: First Team Offense

All-County team: First Team Defense

All-County teams: Second Team and Third Team


Player of the Year: Mia Tuaniga, Mater Dei

Coach of the Year: Isaac Owens, Esperanza

All-County team


Runner of the Year: Anthony Grover, JSerra

Coach of the Year: Craig Dunn, Dana Hills

All-County team


Runner of the Year: Carly Corsinita, Capistrano Valley

Coach of the Year: Ken Chai, El Toro

All-County team


Golfer of the Year: Sherilyn Villaneuva, Troy

Coach of the Year: Bruce Loman, Sage Hill

All-County team


Player of the Year: Kaytlin Taylor, Huntington Beach

Coach of the Year: Natasha Schottland, Portola

All-County team


Player of the Year: Tanner Pulice, Corona del Mar

Coach of the Year: Logan Powell, San Clemente

All-County team




Player of the Year: Devin Askew, Mater Dei

Coach of the Year: D’Cean Bryant, Fountain Valley

All-County team


Player of the Year: Asia Avinger, Rosary

Coach of the Year: Jimmy Valverde, Esperanza

All-County team


Player of the Year: Uriel Sanchez, Servite

Coach of the Year: Jon Spencer, Servite

All-County team


Player of the Year: Samantha Williams, JSerra

Coach of the Year: Pat Rossi, Los Alamitos

All-County team


Player of the Year: Emma Lineback, Laguna Beach

Coach of the Year: Rory Bevins, Rosary

All-County team


Wrestler of the Year: Aaron Nagao, Esperanza

Coach of the Year: Dane Valdez, Calvary Chapel

All-County team


Wrestler of the Year: Aine Drury, Westminster

All-County team



Outstanding Seniors

Baseball: Jonny Long, Orange

Softball: Madi Simon, Beckman

Boys Swimming: Ryan Abdollahi, Dana Hills

Girls Swimming: Ella Ristic,  Santa Margarita

Boys Track & Field: Isaac Korn, Trabuco Hills

Girls Track & Field: Sophia Hartwell, Orange Lutheran

Boys Volleyball: Niko Colburn, Huntington Beach

Boys Tennis: Jake Huarte, Mater Dei

Boys Golf: Taehoon Song, Anaheim Discovery Christian

Boys Lacrosse: Andrew Cumming, Foothill

Girls Lacrosse: Ashley Stokes, Foothill

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OCVarsity 2020 Athletes of the Year special section

The Register wraps up a year of excellence in high school sports by selecting the Orange County Athletes of the Year.

The honorees are featured in a special section that includes lists of all of the athletes and coaches who received OCVarsity honors in 2019-20. The section is included in Sunday’s edition of the Register.

There is also an interactive online version of the section that can be found here.

A link to our page for the 2020 OCVaristy Athlete & Coach Awards.

This year, because of COVID-19, the Register couldn’t host its annual banquet for all of the year’s award winners, but the OCVarsity staff congratulates the honorees, including Rosary’s Asia Avinger, who received the Trinity League Athlete of the Year award from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange.


To read the individual stories, click on the athlete names below.

Male Athlete of the Year

Bryce Young, Mater Dei

Mater Dei High quarterback Bryce Young announced his commitment to attend Alabama on social media on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)


Female Athlete of the Year

Asia Avinger, Rosary

Rosary’s Asia Avinger is one of the Orange County Register’s 2020 Athletes of the Year. The San Clemente High School athlete committed to play basketball at San Diego State. Photographed in Anaheim, CA on Thursday, May 14, 2020. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)


Male Outstanding Competitor

Lance Keneley, Mission Viejo

Mission Viejo High School’s Lance Keneley is one of the Orange County Register’s 2020 Athletes of the Year. Keneley has committed to play football at Stanford. Photographed in Anaheim, CA on Thursday, May 14, 2020. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Female Outstanding Competitor

Ella Gardiner, San Clemente

San Clemente athlete Ella Gardiner is one of the Orange County Register’s 2020 Athletes of the Year. Gardiner excelled in basketball and volleyball.  Photographed in Anaheim, CA on Thursday, May 14, 2020. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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