Lady Spartans excel in crowded Division II field

Chula Vista's Frida Caballero drives toward the Castle Park basket in Wednesday's South Bay League match-up of unbeaten teams. Photo by Phillip Brents

The San Diego Section Division II girls basketball rankings are getting pretty crowded, with Metro Conference teams, that is.

Heading into this week, three Mesa League teams and one South Bay League team occupied spots among the division’s seven top-ranked teams.

Otay Ranch (15-4 overall) held down the No. 1 ranking, followed by Montgomery (12-6 overall) at No. 4. Chula Vista (13-7 overall) at No. 6 and Eastlake (13-7 overall) at No. 7.

Otay Ranch, Montgomery and Eastlake are members of the Mesa League; Chula Vista belongs to the South Bay League.

Chula Vista entered Wednesday’s high impact encounter against visiting Castle Park with a 5-0 league record. The Lady Spartans topped host San Ysidro, 58-42, last Friday to set up Wednesday’s showdown with Castle Park for the league lead.

Senior Kaileih Denley led Chula Vista with 18 points and 10 rebounds against San Ysidro while classmate Alexandra Lozano dropped in 14 points.

Frida Caballero led Chula Vista with 19 points in Wednesday’s 38-20 win over visiting Castle Park for sole possession of first place in the South Bay League standings. Photo by Phillip Brents

Frida Caballero keyed the hosts with 19 points in Wednesday’s 38-23 win to elevate their record to 14-7 overall, 6-0 in league play.

It’s been a team effort thus far for the Lady Spartans in the move from the Division III to Division II competition tiers.

“We had quite a bit of success in Division III,” CVHS head coach John De Jesus explained. “We made it to the semis last year and that increased our power ranking. That put us at the bottom of Division II this year. Going into Division II, I thought we would be near the bottom but we’re toward the middle. That’s been the surprise.

“We’ve been very competitive. I think that’s because of our team chemistry and senior leadership. Our goal every year is to win the league banner. If we can hopefully continue, this will be our fourth in a row. I think our girls are focused on that.

“As far as beyond league, we’ve been competitive with the top teams. I think we might match up well with some of these teams if we meet them in the playoffs.”

Chula Vista jumped out to a dominating 21-3 lead midway through the third quarter, though the early stages of the contest were dominated by defense. The hosts led just 6-0 at the end of the first quarter and 16-3 at halftime. But a 15-4 in the third quarter opened up the floodgates for the Lady Spartans, who took a 31-7 lead into the final quarter.

Castle Park (9-9, 5-1 in league) rang up a 16-7 scoring edge in the final quarter.

Chula Vista received 13 points from sophomore Ximena Caballero and 10 points from Lozano in bounding past west side rival Sweetwater, 44-33, on Jan. 15.

Frida Caballero poured in 25 points in a 50-36 win at Hilltop on Jan. 10.

Ximena Caballero attempts to elude Castle Park defender Stephanie McDonald in Wednesday’s high profile hoops encounter. Photo by Phillip Brents

The Lady Spartans tipped off league play with a pair of pre-Christmas wins — 59-20 at Mar Vista on Dec. 16 and 68-14 against visiting Southwest on Dec. 18.

Four players reached double figures in the scoring column in the victory against Mar Vista: Frida Caballero led the group with 16 points, followed by sophomore Elizabeth Stewart with 14 points, Lozano with 13 points and freshman Natalie Solorio with 10 points.

Frida Caballero had 19 points in the win over Southwest.

Caballero leads the team with a 14.3 scoring average while Lozano is next up with a 10.8 scoring average.

Chula Vista finished 1-2 at the Baron Classic Dec. 26-28 at Bonita Vista High School, dropping narrow contests to Morse (41-39) and Our Lady of Peace (32-31) while topping Steele Canyon 70-25.

Frida Caballero led the Lady Spartans with 19 points in the win over Steele Canyon.


Chula Vista 38, Castle Park 20
Photos by Phillip Brents