Mid-season report: 10 girl basketball players to watch

Shasta High sophomore Taryn Giacomelli could be a major factor for the Wolves heading into league play. (Photo by Mike Daly/Shasta County Sports)

As league play rolls around this week, Shasta County Sports is taking a look at 10 girls players who impressed during preseason and who we think hoop heads should keep and eye on. NOTE: This is not an MVP list, mainly picking one notable X-Factor from each team.

Jenna Wallace, Foothill
The Foothill post is the lynch pin of the Cougars offense. When they’re going well, Wallace is in the middle of everything. She’s a 32-minute player – exceptional for a post – who commands an opponent’s eyes. She can score from anywhere on the floor and defensively, she’s as good as it gets.

D’zire Lewis, Enterprise
Instant energy. That’s what you’r getting from Lewis. And while Jadyn Matthews is the engine that drives the Hornets’ machine, Lewis is a perfect role player. She’s a tremendous defender and can score in bunches.

Taryn Giacomelli, Shasta
The sophomore can, at times, play like a sophomore. But there are also times when she might be the best player on the floor. Handling the point duties as a 10th-grader can be imposing, but Giacomelli’s ability to turn the page is an asset. She’s a tireless defender and has a motor that doesn’t quit.

Crysta Papesh, Anderson
The Cubs’ post could probably drop 30 a night if needed for Big Blue. She’s an imposing figure in the paint and double-double machine.

Jordan McCoy, U-Prep
When McCoy realizes how good she can be, watch out. She’s probably got an idea already, but the sky is the limit for this freshman. In a game last week, she locked up defensively on Jadyn Matthews and while the Enterprise star finished with 20, she earned every bit of it. Offensively, McCoy has range and the ability to get the basket.

Maddie Steele, West Valley
There aren’t going to be many teams who can match up with the ‘Twin Tower’ forward duo the Eagles have in Jenna Adkins and Ashlee Lewis. But when teams collapse on them inside, the outside will be wide open for Steele, who plays the point and is stingy on defense, leading the Northern Section in steals. Oh yeah, she isn’t afraid to take it to the hoop either.

Sammie Wunner, Redding Christian
A late decision to play hoops this season has worked out in Wunner’s favor so far as the Lions are 15-2 and a disruptive force on defense. Wunner provides height around the rim for the Lions and averages close to a double-double this season. There isn’t much standing in the way of Redding Christian as it pushes for a return trip to the section finals and Wunner is a big reason why.

McKenzie Cassingham, Central Valley
There’s no secret this is Cassingham’s team. Even at 5-foot even, she plays with a fire and a confidence that is contagious for the rest of her teammates. She fills up the stat sheet in more than just points, but when she’s on, reaching 20 points in a game isn’t out of the question.

Kiley Tiran, Burney
The Raiders’ leader has been a solid contributor in the first half of the season, ranking among the top five in Shasta County in multiple stat categories — first in steals (73) and steals per game (6.1), second in points per game (18.3), third in 3-pointers (19). Two games against division favorite Redding Christian in league play are huge tests to see where she’s at.

Marissa Leighton, Fall River
The Bulldogs are in desperate need of some dominant floor time from players like Trinity Markham, Natalie Osborne and Jeanna Bucher. But Marissa Leighton is the constant to keep the Bulldogs competitive and avoid a losing season for the first time since the 2008-09 season. Leighton’s 11.9 scoring and 8.8 rebound average is keeping Fall River in the mix.