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Collision All Stars

It’s another sweep for Southern Section
Higgins takes girls MVP, Griffin wins boys honor

The 18th annual Collision All Star Games had a bit of something for everyone. Political power from Assemblywoman Autum Burke, NBA greatness from former Bruin Marques Johnson, coaching power from the last coach to win an NCAA title at UCLA in Jim Harrick and former UCLA and St. Johns coach Steve Lavin and former prodigy Schea Cotton.

However, when all was said and done it was the student /athletes from the Los Angeles City and CIF Southern Sections that shined the brightest at Inglewood High School on April 30.

Chaminade’s Valerie Higgins earned MVP honors at the Collision Senior All-Star game with a 23-point performance to lead the CIF Southern Section to a 99-74 victory over the L.A. City Section.

Higgins, Leaonna Odom and Zoe Tinsley came together for a final hurrah — with the entire Chaminade coaching staff on the bench — to lead the CIF Southern Section All-Stars to a victory over the L.A. City Section All-Stars.

“It was really great for us to play together for one last game,” Higgins said. “I’ve gone to school with Zoe for four years, and Neah came last year.

It was the perfect culmination for a Chaminade team that captured CIF Southern Section Open Division and CIF State Open Division crowns.

Chaminade coach Kelli DiMuro wanted to make sure her entire coaching staff was able to experience this swang song with their All-American duo of Higgins and Odom and a four-year player in Tinsley.

So DiMuro brought assistant coaches Kelson, Mara Lux, Camille Moody and Andy Tomita to the game to take in another vintage Chaminade moment.

“It’s sad for me,” DiMuro said. “I tried not to think about it or else I’d go into the tank, but they played amazing.

“Our goal is always to move the ball, and you could tell the chemistry they’ve had over the years. I’m going to miss them so much. They are the best team I’ve ever coached.”

The Southern Section leads the all-time Collision series 15-3, but Chaminade had its hands all over this one. The USC-bound Higgins scored 23 points and earned Collision MVP honors, being presented with the award by former UCLA coach Steve Lavin. She scored eight points at the beginning of the second half to break open a 46-43 halftime game.

Tinsley scored 19 points, including 13 in the first 12 minutes of the game.

“It was fun to be with a group of players like this and to play with other Chaminade players,” Odom said.

Notre Dame Academy’s Stephanie Umeh — the game’s Albert ‘Cap’ Lavin Scholar Athlete award recipient.

Palisades’ Kayla Gillett scored 17 points to lead the City. Legacy’s Christina Rodriguez scored 10 points, and Granada Hills’ Ivy Nguyen, Middle College’s Terrin Sullivan and Legacy’s Nathaly Roque each each added eight points.

“This was a lot of fun,” DiMuro said. “It’s nice coaching All-Stars. They know what to do and where to go. I don’t have to say one thing.”

Following the girls game, Jordan Griffin of Corona Centennial became the third Long Beach State recruit to capture Collision honors leading the Southern Section to an impressive 113-99 victory over the City Section.

Griffin follows the likes of Casper Ware Jr. and Justin Bibbins as players who finished their prep careers with MVP at Collision. The Southern Section lead the boys series 10-8.

Vittorio Reynoso-Avila of La Mirada and headed to Princeton was named the Albert ‘Cap’ Lavin Scholar Athlete which was presented by Steve Lavin in honor of his late father.

Schea Cotton was presented with the Jim Harrick Lifetime Achievement Award.

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