Roosevelt’s Chiderah Uzowuru, an All-Big VIII First Team selection, earned MVP honors at the 8th Annual Desert-Valley All-Star Game, leading the Home team to a 66-57 victory. Uzowuru, who is headed to Grand Canyon University, scored twenty points, pulled down thirteen rebounds; she also had four assists and three steals.
“I felt blessed to be selected,” said Ozowuru, “Our team went to second round of CIF and lost to Brea-Olinda, but we had a lot of firsts this year, like most wins. I’m excited to be able to play again in this game with such tough competition.”
Vista Murrieta point guard Yuendie Guridi won the pre-game Free Throw Contest with ten straight. Rancho Verde’s Alisia Spearman beat out Roosevelt’s Taylor Davis for the Three–Point Shooting Champion title with twelve made in one minute.
“It’s definitely a change being on the Away team at my home gym,” said Vista Murrieta’s Yuendie Guridi who has played over seventy games for the Broncos, “but it’s definitely fun because I get to play one more game on my home floor!”
The game started quickly with Lakeside guard Kianna Williams feeding Notre Dame’s Suzie Castro-Larsen inside and then Great Oak’s Roya Rustamzada for a 4-0 Away team lead in the opening minute. Davis was fouled on a 3-pt attempt and sank the free throw to put the Home team on the board, 4-3. Castro-Larsen drove for a score, 6-3; Uzowuru’s putback “plus one” tied the game at 6-6 for the first of her thirteen points in the half. Williams’ three after an Ozuwuru steal lay-up, closed the gap to 19-12.
Norco’s Taylor Bolden hit two three’s; Heritage’s Kaelea Alonzo also hit from beyond the arc. Paloma Valley’s Ashlynn Cota contributed three buckets for the first half 39-26 lead for coach Dennis Ullom’s Home team.
Williams scored the first bucket of the second half to jump-start the Away team. Minutes later, they went on a 16-0 run to take a 53-47 lead. Uzowuru’s penetration lay-up stopped the run and Alonzo’s jumper tied the game at 53-53 with 4:50 left in the game.
Great Oak’s Abby Welch took the lead for the Away team on free throws and Rustamzada’s inside bucket extended the lead. Uzowuru hit a three and Perris’ Kelsie Howgard put the Home team ahead on a fast break. Patriot’s Sabrina Avery got a putback basket and Norco’s Imani Smith accounted for the final four points on free throws.
For the Home team, Smith finished with ten points; Avery had eight points, eight rebounds; Howgard had six points, eight rebounds. “I’m excited to have this opportunity,” said Howgard, “It’s fun playing with girls I usually play against. “
For the away team, Williams finished with fifteen points, six rebounds, six assists, four steals and three blocks. Castro-Larsen had eight points. Welch finished with eleven points.
“I’ve been playing against these girls for years; it’s nice to be playing with them. We can use their advantages for our advantages now,” said Roya Rustamzada of Great Oak High School before the game. “I’m honored to be here. This is my last game; I want to end it on a good note.“ Point Loma-bound Rustamzada finished with 12 points, ten rebounds, three assists, three steals and six blocks.
Other featured All-Stars include: Sarina Johnson (Hemet), Brittany Janssen (Temecula Prep), Ronisha Daniels (Heritage), and Taylor Davis (Roosevelt).