The Bonita Optimist Holiday Classic celebrated its 42nd anniversary Dec. 27-30 with both boys and girls high school basketball games at Bonita Vista High School. Tournament co-director John Raue pointed out the tournament ranks in longevity only behind the famed San Diego Kiwanis tournament.
The 65th Kiwanis tournament took place Dec. 14-17 at Serra, Scripps Ranch and Mira Mesa high schools.
Thirteen teams took part in the latest Bonita tourney — eight girls and five boys teams.
The boys division made its return to local hardwood floors after taking a leave in the early 1990s.
“We’d like to be able to offer the participating teams four games each,” Raue said. “Ideally, we’d like to have eight boys and girls teams, which would be perfect for pool play.”
The local Optimist club provides a donation to the Bonita Vista basketball program as part of its community service. The club’s motto remains “bringing out the best in kids.”
And this year’s tournament brought out the best in the tourney-host Barons as Bonita Vista topped defending champion Alhambra (Ariz.), 51-45, to capture the girls division title.
“This was an outstanding tournament with outstanding competition with Britannia (Vancouver, Canada) and Alhambra,” BVHS girls coach Wayne Wooten said. “It really meant a lot to our team to come out on top because everyone has worked so hard for so long.”
The Barons finished 4-0 in the four-day event to up their season record to 7-5. Ashley Quidolet earned selection to the all-tournament team while BVHS teammate Hannah Flippen was named the tournament’s most valuable player.
Kelsey Ferko had 13 points and Victoria Hernandez had 12 points in the Barons’ title win over the Arizonans.
The run through the tourney was made even more impressive in that the Bonitans were missing several key players, among them girls volleyball player of the year Jenelle Hudson, who was in Hawaii competing in an all-star volleyball tournament, and Nerissa Periola, who is out for the season with an injury.
The Barons tipped off the tourney with a 46-24 victory against Helix, then rang up a 61-36 win over University City before ending pool play with a 72-14 win against Southwest.
Hernandez (13 points) and Quidolet (12 points) keyed Bonita Vista against Helix while Flippen had 14 points against UC and a trio of Barons reached double figures in the win over Southwest: Hernandez (16), Quidolet (13) and Samantha Pantoja (10).
University City hung on to defeat Britannia, 40-39, on a missed last-second lay-up by the Canadians to capture third place while Scripps Ranch defeated Helix, 32-20, to claim fifth place. Chula Vista out-pointed Southwest, 58-18, in a match-up of South Bay League teams in the seventh-place game.
All-tournament selections also included Chula Vista’s Anessa Wolfblack and Southwest’s Maliah Gladden along with Alhambra’s Talani Juniel, Britannia’s Jilliane Vina, Helix’s Sara Meredith, Scripps Ranch’s Kira Dosenberry and UC’s Brishann Scott.
Wolfblack scored 21 points in a 46-39 loss to Britannia.
On the boys side, two of the three teams from Australia captured the top two spots in the round-robin field. Keilor (varsity) and Brisbane both finished 3-1, but the title went to the Melbourne club team on the basis of its 60-43 opening day win over Brisbane.
The two Keilor Thunder teams were comprised of players from six Catholic schools in the greater Melbourne region. Both Keilor and Brisbane also competed simultaneously in the crosstown Spartan Classic at Chula Vista High School.
The Australians, who featured a collection of height and talent, were impressive on the court in both gyms.
Shawn Abeysiri of Keilor’s varsity team earned the Bonita Optimist tourney MVP award while Keilor teammates Troy Duca (varsity team) and Diquan Williams (junior varsity team), along with Brisbane’s Matthew Strybos, earned all-tournament recognition.
“To be in my first basketball tournament in the United States and win the MVP was just an amazing experience,’ Abeysiri said.
The Keilor club is in the midst of a 24-day tour of the western United States during a long semester break Down Under. Besides Chula Vista, the Aussies were also scheduled to participate in tournaments in San Diego, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Basketball is the most popular youth sport in the Melbourne area, according to the visitors from Down Under.
In last Friday’s boys finale, Diamond Bar outlasted Bonita Vista, 53-42, to secure a 2-2 round-robin record and possession of third place. The Barons finished 1-3 in fourth place. Keilor’s JV team also finished 1-3 but finished fifth based on its 60-59 loss to Bonita Vista.
Ironically, Keilor’s JV squad handed Keilor’s varsity team its only tourney setback.
High jump standout Brandon Greene earned selection to the all-tourney squad for Bonita Vista while Diamond Bar’s Steve Goytia rounded out the all-tourney selections.
Hilltop finished 2-3 in the Kiwanis tournament’s girls bracket. For the Lancers, Brigitte Young earned selection to the all-tournament team.
Hilltop’s wins came against Hoover (51-35) and Grossmont (35-32). The Lancers dropped a 62-21 consolation bracket contest to Carlsbad to end tourney play.
Bonita Optimist Holiday Classic
Girls Pool A
Bonita Vista 3-0
University City 2-1
Girls Pool B
Alhambra (Ariz.) 3-0
Britannia (Canada) 2-1
Scripps Ranch 1-2
Chula Vista 0-3
Keilor-varsity (Australia) 3-1
Brisbane (Australia) 3-1
Diamond Bar 2-2
Bonita Vista 1-3
Keilor-JV (Australia) 1-3
Tuesday, Dec. 27
University City 47, Southwest 19
Alhambra 62, Chula Vista 50
Britannia 58, Scripps Ranch 57
Bonita Vista 46, Helix 24
Keilor (1) 60, Brisbane 43
Keilor (1) 61, Bonita Vista 41
Diamond Bar 63, Keilor (2) 52
Wednesday, Dec. 28
Britannia 46, Chula Visa 39
Bonita Vista 61, University City 36
Alhambra 57, Scripps Ranch 34
Helix 51, Southwest 23
Keilor (2) 70, Keilor (1) 66
Brisbane 48, Diamond Bar 38
Bonita Vista 60, Keilor (2) 59
Thursday, Dec. 29
Alhambra 68, Britannia 43
Scripps Ranch 53, Chula Vista 33
Bonita Vista 72, Southwest 14
University City 37. Helix 27
Brisbane 58, Keilor (2) 36
Keilor (1) 48, Diamond Bar 40
Brisbane 64, Bonita Vista 44
Friday, Dec. 30
Seventh place: Chula Vista 58, Southwest 18
Fifth place: Scripps Ranch 32, Helix 20
Third place: University City 40, Britannia 39
Championship: Bonita Vista 51, Alhambra 45
Diamond Bar 53, Bonita Vista 42
Girls: Talani Juniel (Alhambra), Ashley Quidolet (Bonita Vista), Jilliane Vina (Britannia), Anessa Wolfblack (Chula Vista), Sara Meredith (Helix), Kira Dosenberry (Scripps Ranch), Maliah Gladden (Southwest), Brishann Scott (University City). MVP: Hannah Flippen (Bonita Vista)
Boys: Brandon Greene (Bonita Vista), Matthew Strybos (Brisbane), Steve Goytia (Diamond Bar), Troy Duca (Kelior-varsity), Diquan Williams (Keilor-JV). MVP: Shawn Abeysiri (Keilor-varsity)
Aztec Holiday Invitational
Championship: Montgomery 39, Steele Canyon 34
Kristina Jiao (Montgomery), Sina Fuifui (Montgomery), Monique Van (Steele Canyon), Ali Merino (Steele Canyon), Maya Lyda (Castle Park), Michelle Kastner (Brawley), Meriah Overton (Brawley), Ana Rodriguez (Calexico)
MVP: Rachel Tibbetts (Montgomery)