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Eight to Watch this Winter
January, 2012 - Issue #87
As the seasons shift, so do sports in the Santa Clarita Valley. Winter is the time of boys and girls basketball and boys and girls soccer. Year in and year out, the Santa Clarita Valley's high schools present some of the year's most competitive sports during this time. This year should be no different. Here are eight athletes, two from each sport, to keep an eye on in the coming months.

Boys Basketball
Coley Apsay of Canyon High
Apsay may be the most skilled prep basketball player in the Santa Clarita Valley. The two-time All-Foothill League selection and Canyon High point guard led the Cowboys to the doorstep of the Foothill League title in 2011. He averaged 18 points, four assists, four rebounds and three steals per game. With all-state guard Lonnie Jackson having graduated from Valencia High, Apsay steps in as the Foothill League's top returning guard. The senior point guard can also make an argument that he's the best returning SCV player for the 2011-12 season.

Ako Kaluna of West Ranch High
No one in the Foothill League is a tougher matchup than the big and strong Hawaiian forward. Just a sophomore last season, the 6-foot-6-inch bruiser averaged 16.3 points and 10.1 rebounds and was named an All-Foothill League first-teamer. The thing that sets Kaluna apart is his mobility. The wild-haired junior can play inside and outside, moves well with the ball, can pass, play defense and is hard to stop on offense. Kaluna's skill set could lead West Ranch to its best finish in school history in 2011-12.

Girls Basketball
Alia McCoy of Canyon High
McCoy has the makings to become this valley's next girls basketball superstar. She has the entire game: She can dribble penetrate, score from the outside, be a pest on defense (which includes an ability to block shots and force steals on every possession) and she displays so much heart on the court. The 5-foot-10-inch Cowboy was an All-CIF and All-Foothill League selection last year as a sophomore. Last season, she helped lead Canyon to a Foothill League title, a semifinal appearance in the Division IIAA playoffs and Canyon's first-ever CIF state tournament victory. She averaged 13.6 points and 8.1 rebounds. The junior is a major reason why Canyon is this year's Foothill League favorite.

Megan Dawe of Saugus High
The Saugus senior center is a mixture of brains, size and skill. A brainy young lady who will be attending the prestigious New York University next year, Dawe is one of the Foothill League's top returning players. She led the Foothill League in scoring last season with 15 points per game. To that number, she added 8.9 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 1.4 steals per contest. Dawe is another tall player whose skill set is complete; she has an outside and inside game that will make her a difficult matchup for any team she plays against. With her return, Saugus has a shot to challenge for a Foothill title.

Boys Soccer
Lucas Reilly of West Ranch High
Reilly is the reigning Foothill League Boys Soccer Player of the Year. The senior played a giant role in leading West Ranch to its first-ever Foothill League boys soccer title in 2011. Now he looks to help the Wildcats duplicate that success. The lanky midfielder scored a team-high 13 goals last season and also added four assists.

Sammy Reyes of Hart High
Hart soccer had an incredible and unexpected run to the CIF-Southern Section Division III quarterfinals in 2011, but the Indians lost some key talent from that squad. It even lost its coach, who resigned shortly after the spring. But Reyes remains. The senior is entering his third year on varsity. He was a major player for the Indians in 2010-11 with 10 goals and three assists.

Girls Soccer
Kendall Moskal of West Ranch High
Moskal is very Santa Clarita Valley. Her grandmother, Kathy, was a humorous, tough-talking teacher at Hart High School for many years. Her father, Tony, is a teacher at Golden Valley High and is recognized as one of the top voices in the Santa Clarita Valley as a longtime color commentator for football games. Kendall, though, lets her ability on the soccer field speak for her at West Ranch High. The returning All-Foothill League defender has been a hard-nosed player in all three of her years on the varsity level. With not many experienced stars returning for West Ranch in 2011-12, Moskal will be relied on to help lead the Wildcats back to the postseason.

Serena Smith-Banas of Saugus High
The Saugus girls soccer team enjoyed the greatest regular season in school history, finishing with a perfect record of 10-0-0. A big reason was Smith-Banas, a sweeper who helped put the clamps on opposing offenses. Bound for Texas Christian University next season, Smith-Banas was a major reason why the Centurions finished with 16 shutouts last season. With a ton of talent having graduated from Saugus, it's now Smith-Banas who could step in as an experienced leader for a Centurions team looking to repeat their past successes.
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