A little less than two months after knocking off Antelope Valley in the CIF Division 4 state championship in Sacramento, the Cardinal Newman girls basketball team continues to be showered with accolades.
That’s what happens when you win the Redwood Empire’s first state basketball title in 19 years.
MaxPreps announced its All-State team last week, and Cardinals coach Monica Mertle was the site’s California girls State Coach of the Year. Mertle, who played at Ursuline High before the girls’ school was merged with Cardinal Newman in 2011, led her team to a 31-5 record this year, including the grueling win over Antelope Valley. The Cardinals were 14-0 in the North Bay League.
It was an amazing run considering that Mertle didn’t have a single senior on her roster.
One of her precocious players, junior Hailey Vice-Neat, was selected to MaxPreps’ Division 4 First Team. Vice-Neat, a versatile 6-foot-3 forward, averaged 16.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game last season.
Another news source devoted to high school athletics, Cal-Hi Sports, also favored Cardinal Newman. Cal-Hi named Vice-Neat first-team Small-School All-State, junior center Lauren Walker second-team Small School All-State, and young point guard Avery Cargill first-team Freshman All-State.
Mertle will celebrate by taking her 12 players to Disneyland on June 6-8.
“We wanted to do something special, and Disneyland is a special place,” the coach said.
After that, it’s back to business for the defending champions. The Cardinals will play tournaments in Tahoe and San Diego in July, as well as another they are hosting.
You can reach Staff Writer Phil Barber at email@example.com. On Twitter @Skinny_Post. Press Democrat correspondent Howard Senzell contributed to this report.