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California high school sports: Indoor contests like basketball, volleyball back in play after legal settlement - OFFICIAL
California high school sports: Indoor contests like basketball, volleyball back in play after legal settlement
What works outdoors might just work indoors as well. Two weeks after California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a change to youth sports guidelines that paved the way for outdoor sports, including high school football, the door was opened Thursday for a return to indoor sports, namely basketball, volleyball and wrestling.

A legal settlement with the state on Thursday removes major restrictions to the indoor contests, namely placing the sports in the most restrictive yellow tier. It allows all high school sports to reopen using similar restrictions and protocols as professional and collegiate sports. The settlement came in response to a lawsuit filed last month from two San Diego high school football players and their attorney Stephen C. Grebing and managing partners Wingert Grebing of San Diego.

"This will open things open for youth sports — high school and youth leagues — around the state to resume play," said Scripps Ranch (San Diego) football coach Marlon Gardinera during a press conference. "And not just football, but indoor sports, too. So basketball, volleyball and wrestling athletes can have a season too."

Gardinera and his son were just two plaintiffs of several lawsuits filed up and down the  state over the last several weeks. All included high school athletes and their parents, citing "there is no medical evidence that competing in team sports is safe for college and/or professional athletes but not high school athletes."

The settlement requires counties to reach the same threshold as football (under 14 COVID new COVID cases per 100,000) — as of Tuesday, 54 of the state's 58 counties met that standard — and testing is mandatory. The state will pick up testing costs in three sports, rugby, water polo and football, but indoor sport athletes will have other options. Grebing and the Let Them Play CA offered free options that still need to be ironed out.

Newsom wouldn't comment on the settlement, but state Secretary for Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Ghaly confirmed new guidelines would be released in the next few days. California Interscholastic Federation Executive Director Ron Nocetti said he would "reserve comment until we see the agreement."

Each county, as always, can OK or reject the new guidelines, even if the state accepts them.

“Indoors, (the requirements are) going to be pretty rigid,” Grebing said. “But they’re going to be allowed to play.”
A settlement that paves the way for basketball and other indoors sports in California was reached on Thursday.
File photo by Greg Jungferman
A settlement that paves the way for basketball and other indoors sports in California was reached on Thursday.
That's all a number of athletes and coaches wanted to hear, including 16-year San Francisco prep coach Randy Bessolo. He and Miramonte (Orinda) boys basketball coach Chris Laviotis started the Bay Area Basketball Coaches Alliance three weeks after conferring with the Golden State High School Football Coaches Community, which led the charge to get outdoor sports off the ground two weeks ago.

"We just followed their model," Bessolo said.

That plus the monumental efforts of Moorpark boys basketball coach Ryan Moore and continued laborious work of the Let Them Play Ca group, led by founder Brad Hensley, helped get the settlement done.

"This is a major win for the youth of California," Bessolo said. "Playing youth sports has been proven to be safe and the risks of not playing are far greater than playing."

In a letter delivered Wednesday to Newsom's office, Let Them Play CA basketball leaders stated, "Now is the time. COVID-19 cases are drastically falling across the state. Vaccinations are nearing 10 million. People are dining indoors. Kids are going back to the classroom. Now is the time."

Thursday's news brought a lot of joy around the state.

"I haven't seen this many bright faces and happy smiles in a long time," Dublin boys basketball coach Tom Costello said.

Said Salesian College Preparatory (Richmond) coach Bill Mellis: "A month ago, I would have thought no way we're having a season. When outdoor sports were OK'd, there was a little light at the end of the tunnel, but I was still skeptical. Now? Today? Wow, things are moving so fast."

Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland) star center Jalen Lewis, one of the top sophomores in the country, said "I'm definitely excited to put an O'Dowd jersey on again. Hopefully nothing unexpected happens for the next few weeks, because I was really hoping to at least play a little bit of my sophomore season."
Sara Puckett named 2020-21 OFFICIAL Alabama High School Girls Basketball Player of the Year - OFFICIAL
Sara Puckett named 2020-21 MaxPreps Alabama High School Girls Basketball Player of the Year
Each year since 2006, MaxPreps has recognized outstanding performers in high school basketball. America's source for high school sports continues the tradition to close out the 2020-21 season by naming the top player in each state. Selections are based on team success and individual excellence, in addition to local and state accolades.

Sara Puckett of Muscle Shoals is the 2020-21 MaxPreps Alabama High School Basketball Player of the Year. The 6-foot-2 forward averaged 21.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game despite being the focus of opposing defenses, helping the Trojans go 15-10.

Puckett's shooting range and defensive versatility made her a tough matchup for other post players, and her ability close to the basket at both ends of the floor made her even more difficult to contend with.

A Tennessee signee, Puckett is rated the 43rd best prospect in the Class of 2021 by ESPN Hoopgurlz.

Each state's MaxPreps Player of the Year will be considered for inclusion in the MaxPreps All-America Team.
Isaac McKneely named 2020-21 OFFICIAL West Virginia High School Basketball Player of the Year - OFFICIAL
Isaac McKneely named 2020-21 MaxPreps West Virginia High School Basketball Player of the Year
Each year since 2006, MaxPreps has recognized outstanding performers in high school basketball. America's source for high school sports continues the tradition to close out the 2020-21 season by naming the top player in each state. Selections are based on team success and individual excellence, in addition to local and state accolades.

Isaac McKneely of Poca is the 2020-21 MaxPreps West Virginia High School Basketball Player of the Year. The 6-foot-3 junior guard helped the Dots go 13-5 en route to the Class AA state championship game.

McKneely averaged 22.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game while shooting 49 percent from the field, 41.7 percent from three-point range and 82.7 percent from the free-throw line in 15 regular season games.

McKneely was selected as the Gazette-Mail All-Kanawha Valley co-Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.

Committed to Virginia, McKneely is regarded as the No. 49 prospect in the Class of 2022 by 247Sports. He holds additional college offers from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas State, Louisville, Maryland, North Carolina State, Purdue, Virginia Tech, West Virginia and Xavier.
2020 OFFICIAL High School Football Freshman All-America Team - OFFICIAL
2020 MaxPreps High School Football Freshman All-America Team
Each year since 2006, MaxPreps has recognized the nation's top high school football players at the conclusion of the season. Past members of the MaxPreps High School Football Freshman All-America Team include Leonard Fournette (2010), Christian Kirk (2011), Nick Bosa (2012), Dylan Moses (2013), Trevor Lawrence (2014), JT Daniels (2015), Harrison Bailey (2016), Sam Huard (2017), Gunner Stockton (2018) and Arch Manning (2019).

National Freshman of the Year selection Ronnie Royal of Alexandria (Ala.) headlines the 2020 MaxPreps Freshman All-America Team. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound two-way standout announced Monday he will play for Gulf Shores next year but his one season at Alexandria will be fondly remembered. He piled up 2,853 all-purpose yards and 35 touchdowns while tallying 57 tackles and an interception defensively, helping the Valley Cubs go 12-2.

Selections are based on team success, individual production and local, regional state honors from the recently completed season. Potential at the college and professional level is not a primary consideration.
Graphic by Ryan Escobar
First Team Offense

Height: 6-0 | Weight: 180
Despite injury, high-ceiling signal caller flashed potential in six games in his second varsity season.

Height: 6-0 | Weight: 180
All-region pick was one of the nation's most productive ninth grade running backs, with 1,704 yards and 21 touchdowns in 10 games.

Height: 5-11 | Weight: 210
Bruising man-child averaged nearly 10 yards per carry for the runner-up in Class 3A.

Height: 6-1 | Weight: 180
Flashed the speed to be a downfield threat and the physicality to thrive across the middle.

Height: 6-0 | Weight: 140
Silky smooth route runner with DeVonta Smith-like build has elite agility.

Height: 6-5 | Weight: 215
Physical blocker and sure-handed receiver earned all-region honorable mention for South Georgia powerhouse.

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 285
Powerful interior linemen with great bloodlines stood out in shortened season.

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 275
Started at center for No. 2 team in the country.

Height: 6-6 | Weight: 275
"Big Cat" toyed with opposing defenders all season long.

Height: 6-5 | Weight: 310
Athletic big man played all over for the Class 5A finalist.

Height: 6-6 | Weight: 330
Has drawn comparisons to Michael Oher of "Blindside" fame.

Height: 5-9 | Weight: 175
Tough-running quarterback rumbled for 1,457 yards and 11 touchdowns on 141 carries.

First Team Defense

Height: 6-5 | Weight: 250
Perhaps the most gifted player athletically, regardless of position.

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 215
Made 64 tackles and 11 sacks for Miami-Dade power.

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 190
Explosive defensive end was Class 4A all-state selection.

Height: 6-4 | Weight: 210
The Class of 2024 in the Tampa area is deep, and Hayes is among the best.

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 180
Highly versatile athlete who also lined up at tight end, receiver and safety.

Height: 6-0 | Weight: 200
Sideline-to-sideline backer amassed 17 tackles in single game.

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 215
Could be the top recruit to emerge from Western Pennsylvania powerhouse in a long time.

Height: 5-11 | Weight: 175
National Freshman of the Year starred on both sides of the ball.

Height: 5-11 | Weight: 160
Shutdown corner helped the Hawks to an undefeated season and spot at No. 4 in final Top 25 rankings.

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 180
Basketball standout only turned 14 in August and flourished all over the field.

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 180
Rangy athlete saw reps on varsity for AAAAAA state champions.

Height: 5-10 | Weight: 160
Made 33 tackles, 18 pass breakups and four interceptions.

Second Team Offense

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 180
Tossed for nearly 1,400 yards for 6A Hughes, earning all-region honorable mention.

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 205
Also a star linebacker, Brown is a high-upside physical specimen.

Height: 5-11 | Weight: 190
Precocious phenom has thrived at every level, drawing lofty comparisons.

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 190
Could be the next great receiver to emerge from South Florida.

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 180
Proved he was the real deal after much youth football hype.

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 220
Old school tight end is punishing blocker and capable receiver, catching five touchdowns.

Height: 6-5 | Weight: 275
Showed great promise in the trenches for unbeaten Cherry Creek.

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 275
Freshman starter up front for Class 2A state champion.

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 275
First ninth-grader to play varsity for White Hall in more than two decades.

Height: 6-5 | Weight: 270
Mammoth tackle also played defense for the undefeated champs.

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 275
Fires off the ball from center and plays angry.

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 190
All-state pick threw for 1,198 yards and 22 touchdowns, becoming the first freshman to start on varsity for the program that produced former MaxPreps National Athlete of the Year, Terrelle Pryor.

Second Team Defense

Height: 6-4 | Weight: 225
Hybrid defender can stand up or play with his hand on the ground.

Height: 6-4 | Weight: 200
Son of Miami linebacker of the same name registered eight sacks along with five tackles-for-loss.

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 240
Made a living in the opposing backfield with nine sacks and eight tackles-for-loss.

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 215
Averaged 1.5 sacks per game en route to earning an offer from Ole Miss.

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 195
Made an instant impact after getting called up to varsity for Class 5A South Oak Cliff.

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 230
Imposed his will to the tune of 79 total tackles.

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 210
Powerful backer showed great promise in limited reps for perennial Texas talent factor.

Height: 6-1 | Weight: 170
Ball-hawking defensive back has good size and speed.

DB Kennedy Urlacher, Casteel (Queen Creek, Ariz.)
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 160
Son of former Bears great made 43 tackles and two interceptions.

Height: 5-11 | Weight: 160
Boasts blazing speed and earned second team all-district honors.

Height: 5-10 | Weight: 150
Shutdown corner helped lead Bearcats to 5A Division 2 state title.

Height: 5-10 | Weight: 180
With 53 tackles and three pass breakups, earned all-region honors.

Stephen Spiewak is national football editor emeritus at MaxPreps and has selected the MaxPreps Freshman All-America Team since 2010. He now works for leading independent ticket marketplace Vivid Seats.
High school basketball: No. 1 Montverde Academy survives GEICO Nationals upset bid with 51-49 win over AZ Compass Prep - OFFICIAL
High school basketball: No. 1 Montverde Academy survives GEICO Nationals upset bid with 51-49 win over AZ Compass Prep
Five-star Michigan signee Caleb Houstan tipped in the game winner with 17 seconds left as top-ranked Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) survived an upset scare Friday by No. 2 AZ Compass Prep (Chandler, Ariz.) in the GEICO Nationals semifinals. The Eagles' 51-49 win sets up a championship showdown at noon (ET) Saturday against No. 3 Sunrise Christian Academy, which has beaten the No. 1 team in the MaxPrep Top 25 once this season.

Trailing 42-33 entering the fourth quarter, AZ Compass Prep responded with a 9-0 run to tie the game at 42 midway through the fourth quarter. The teams traded blows down the stretch before Creighton pledge Ryan Nembhard knocked down a 3-pointer at the end of the shot clock with 1:19 left to give the Eagles a 49-47 advantage.

MaxPreps National Player of the Year finalist TyTy Washington responded on the other end with a nice step-through layup to knot things up at 49. Houstan's game winning tip-in on the other end gave the Eagles the winning advantage, as Washington's last second 3-point attempt rimmed-out.

Jalen Duren, the No. 2 prospect in the Class of 2022, finished with a team-high 14 points and nine rebounds, while Nembhard added five points, nine assists and four rebounds for Montverde (23-1).
Jalen Duren had a team-high 14 points for Monverde Acadmey.
Photo by Pete Wright
Jalen Duren had a team-high 14 points for Monverde Acadmey.
Washington finished his impressive senior campaign with 15 points, five assists and four rebounds in the loss.

It was Montverde Academy's second win of the season over the 28-2 Dragons, who fell 76-65 in overtime on Jan. 28.

The Eagles seeks their fifth GEICO Nationals title in their first championship appearance since 2018. Montverde Academy leads the season series 2-1, beating the Buffaloes 61-57 three weeks ago.

GEICO Nationals championship

Friday's semifinal results
Montverde Academy 51, AZ Compass Prep 49
Sunrise Christian Academy 70, IMG Academy 63

Saturday, April 3
Game on ESPN
Noon (ET) — No. 3 Sunrise Christian Academy vs. No. 1 Montverde Academy