Joe Davidson

Mira Shulman, Solomon Young are Bee Basketball Players of the Year

Elk Grove's Mira Shulman surprised by Player of the Year honors

Mira Shulman of Elk Grove High School talks about a dream basketball season come true and the pleasant surprise of earning The Sacramento Bee Girls Basketball Player of the Year honor.
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Mira Shulman of Elk Grove High School talks about a dream basketball season come true and the pleasant surprise of earning The Sacramento Bee Girls Basketball Player of the Year honor.

The descriptions fit – to a point.

Mira Shulman of Elk Grove High School is described by coach Larry Price as “a monster” in high tops. The versatile, playmaking junior guard led the Thundering Herd to a record season.

Solomon Young of Sacramento High is called “a gentle giant” by coach Derek Swafford. But the senior forward was a force who played big in the season’s biggest games.

Shulman and Young are The Sacramento Bee’s 2015-16 Basketball Players of the Year, in large part because of their relentless passion for the game and their ability to turn games with a pass, score or defensive stop.

Shulman, a 5-foot-7 junior guard with excellent ball-handling skills and court awareness, averaged 18.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists for the Thundering Herd, who won the CIF Northern California Division II championship and reached the CIF State finals at Sleep Train Arena, ending a long stretch of mediocrity. Elk Grove had won only two league championships in 40 seasons, none in the past 20 years. Shulman is the first basketball player at Elk Grove – girls or boys – to win Bee Player of the Year honors since Bill Cartwright in 1975.

In contrast, Sacramento has grown accustomed to success, and Young helped lead the Dragons to new heights with a school-record 30-2 season. Young, a 6-7 forward headed to Iowa State on scholarship, averaged 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.8 blocked shots for a team that was top ranked by The Bee from December until the end of the season.

After winning the Metropolitan Conference championship and the Sac-Joaquin Section D-II title, the Dragons were placed in the prestigious NorCal Open Division, where they defeated Folsom before falling at top-seeded De La Salle of Concord in the semifinals.

“We had a really good season, won a lot of games,” Young said. “It’s hard to lose your last game, but we gave it our all.”

While Sacramento’s success was not a surprise, Elk Grove’s sure was.

“Had someone told me we would have done this before the season,” Shulman said with a laugh, “I would’ve been like, ‘Who? Elk Grove?’ I might’ve laughed in their face.

“But I’m very proud. Once the season started, we knew we could be really good. It hasn’t hit me that we played for a state championship. It’s something I’ll tell my own kids about someday.”

I didn’t want to be outplayed as a freshman and it carried over.

Solomon Young, Sac High senior forward

Shulman and Young didn’t give basketball much of a thought as youngsters.

Shulman, an only child, admitted to “hating basketball” before she learned to “love it.” The turning point was when Shulman’s father, Jeff, called her to the backyard with a surprise, with mother Wendi beaming.

“He came home with a basketball hoop, put it in the backyard, and I started playing, got hooked, and the rest is history,” Shulman said. “I started to play on that adjustable hoop every day, all the time.”

Once the season started, we knew we could be really good.

Mira Shulman, Elk Grove junior guard

Shulman, a 4.3 GPA student, is excited about her senior season, with Elk Grove expected to be strong again. She’s also curious about college but isn’t sure where she will go or what she will study. Shulman has embraced academics as much as athletics; in middle school, she would plead for her father to take her back to school when she forgot a homework assignment.

“My parents have been great, and my dad was my early mentor,” Shulman said.

Young, a 3.4 student who is the youngest of six children, didn’t begin to enjoy basketball until middle school, but was hooked by high school.

He started for Sacramento’s varsity team as a freshman, holding his own against national recruit prospects such as Ivan Rabb of Bishop O’Dowd in Oakland, now a standout at Cal.

“I didn’t want to be outplayed as a freshman and it carried over,” Young said. “That’s the competitor in me. Just play my hardest, give it your all, and play every game like it’s your last one.”

Despite Young scoring 24 points and dominating on both ends of the floor, Sacramento couldn’t hold off De La Salle, which pulled away late to win 63-56 in the NorCal Open semifinals.

After the game, Young was consoled by his mother, Tina, who wiped away tears, his and her own, and told him, “I’m so proud of you.”

“Mom’s my rock,” Young said. “Gotta love Mom. She tells me all the time that she’s proud. I love to hear it. I’ve been a good person, worked hard, for my mom.”

Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD

Boys

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

SOLOMON YOUNG

Forward, Sacramento, senior

FIRST TEAM

JORDAN FORD

Guard, Folsom, senior

JARED WALL

Guard, Folsom, senior

CHRISTIAN TERRELL

Guard, Sacramento, senior

MATT MANNING

Forward, Sheldon, senior

JORDAN BROWN

Center, Woodcreek, sophomore

SECOND TEAM

ISAIAH BROOKS

Guard, Sheldon, senior

ELISHJA DUPLECHAN

Guard, Sheldon, junior

ISAIAH HALSEY

Guard, Liberty Ranch, senior

KAI TEASE

Guard, Antelope, senior

MALIK DUFFY

Center, Jesuit, senior

THIRD TEAM

TIEGEN JONES

Guard, Capital Christian, senior

MATT LYON

Guard, Rio Americano, senior

KENNETH OLSEM

Guard, El Camino, senior

GIOVANNI ROBERTS

Guard, Placer, senior

CHARLIE TOOLEY

Guard, Granite Bay, senior

HONORABLE MENTION

Guards/wings: Alec Andrews, Folsom; B.J. Askew, Sacramento Country Day; Luke Avdalovic, Vista del Lago; Justin Asuncion, Woodcreek; Matt Battaglia, Oak Ridge; Kamren Belden, Pleasant Grove; Drew Cobb, Sheldon; Zach Detillion, Lincoln; Jeff Dresser, Cosumnes Oaks; Zethan Dumpson, Rio Linda; Tre Finch, Folsom; William FitzPatrick, Vista del Lago; Chandler Garcia, Liberty Ranch; James Gill, Burbank; Josh Gonzalez, Sacramento; Cornell Greenwood, Marysville; Jermaine Henderson, Sacramento; Scotty Henrichs, Granite Bay; Sayvon Hines, Sacramento; Khari Hutt, Kennedy; Devin Greene, Sheldon; Monty Khela, West Campus; Zach Lowe, Lincoln; Jeryn Lucas, West Campus; David O'Brien, Bear River; Ken Olsem, El Camino; Xavier Osby, Johnson; Ethan Pangelinan, Jesuit; Vernon Robertson, Foothill; Gabriel Serna, Elk Grove; TreShon Smoots-Jones, Grant; Cole Taira, Kennedy; Isaiah Tenette, Highlands; Glen Welch, Davis; Malachi Wharry, Yuba City; Andrew Williams, Sacramento; L.J. Williams, Bradshaw Christian

Forward/centers: Montel Aaron, Antelope; Moe Ali, Whitney; Austin Alexander, Capital Christian; Isaiah Bates, West Campus; Keshawn Bruner, Burbank; Aaron Burkness, Bella Vista; Cameron Eden, Yuba City; Mason Forbes, Folsom; Elias King, Christian Brothers; Ryan Kreidler, Davis; Matt Lambdin, Bella Vista; Jeremy Lillis, Placer; Xavier Lovelace, Placer; Kenneth Macklin, Ponderosa; David Menary, Nevada Union; Tanner Minton, Mesa Verde; Darren Nelson, Granite Bay; Melvin Parker, Rosemont; Corey Potthoff, Liberty Ranch; Kyle Price, Whitney; Da’Ron Reid, Monterey Trail; Tim Strijaous, Antelope; Brennan Wheeler, Ponderosa; DeAnte Wilkins, Cordova

COACH OF THE YEAR

JOSH WILLIAMS, LIBERTY RANCH

Though Williams had no starters back from a 27-6 team, he welcomed back a host of reserves, though none taller than 6-foot-3. Liberty Ranch used team play, fundamentals and hustle to go 30-2 and advance to the CIF Northern California Regional Division IV playoffs. The Hawks’ 27-0 regular-season made them the first Sac-Joaquin Section public school in any division since Kennedy in 1991 to be unbeaten heading into the playoffs. The last section team unbeaten in the regular season was Modesto Christian in 1997.

Girls

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

MIRA SHULMAN

Guard, Elk Grove, junior

FIRST TEAM

ANGELICA BAYLON

Guard, Antelope, senior

BRIANA DULGAR

Guard, Oak Ridge, senior

ALICEAH HERNANDEZ

Guard, Sacramento, senior

McKENZIE FORBES

Guard, Folsom, sophomore

LAUREN CRAIG

Center, St. Francis, senior

SECOND TEAM

BRANDY HUFFHINES

Guard, Rio Linda, junior

MADISON WONG

Guard, Elk Grove, senior

KELSEY WONG

Guard, McClatchy, senior

HAILEY McCOY

Forward, Oak Ridge, sophomore

BAYLEE VANDERDOES

Forward, Placer, senior

THIRD TEAM

DANIELLE CRAFT

Guard, Ponderosa, senior

NADIA JOHNSON

Guard, Antelope, junior

NIA JOHNSON

Guard, Antelope, sophomore

PAITON DEMPS

Forward, Elk Grove, junior

JORDAN CRUZ

Forward, McClatchy, junior

HONORABLE MENTION

Guards/wings: Namiko Adams, West Campus; Anna Belenis, Davis; Alyssa Black, Valley; Akylah Bowens, Center; Danielle Biggs, Del Campo; Airahseli Chavez, Laguna Creek; Irene Colivalu, Rosemont; Maddison Coleman, El Camino; Shanaijah Davison, Pioneer; Janae Fairbrook, St. Francis; Payton Garvey, Casa Roble; Kaliya Griffin, Inderkum; Quayonna Harris, Sacramento; Kelsey Forrester, Davis; Kelsie Graf, Cordova; Tia Hay, St. Francis; Kiara Jefferson, West Campus; Abreanna Lake, Cosumnes Oaks; Tiana Lowery, River City; Kalani Mark, Christian Brothers; Cierra McClain, Capital Christian; Shantanice Mendoza, Sheldon; Brittany Nguyen, Pleasant Grove; Cassie Piski, Lincoln; Jordan Purvis, Rocklin; Sara Shimizu, McClatchy; Saraya Smith, Ponderosa; Chanel Stuart, Franklin; Lyric Wilson, Sacramento; Daisia Williams, Inderkum; Madison Witcher, Cosumnes Oaks; Kristi Wong, McClatchy; Alexis Zimmerman, Rio Linda

Forwards/centers: Adriana Avent, Sacramento; Kylee Bauer, Colfax; Daeja Black, Granite Bay; MacKenzie Crouch, Oakmont; Kassidy DeLapp, Oak Ridge; Rachael DiRegolo, Bella Vista; Rebeccah DiRegolo, Bella Vista; Jada Ellison, Rosemont; Cailyn Francis, River Valley; Kamryn Hall, McClatchy; Bailey Hawkins, Antelope; Ariyan Hudson, Franklin; Kyra Huffman, St. Francis; Quoquese Jackson, Foothill; Samantha Klinkenborg, El Dorado; Katie MacKenzie, Dixon; Lillian Olson, Sacramento Waldorf; Brea Price, Burbank; Kaely Rath, Bear River; Adrienne Russell, Granite Bay; Jikara Sellers, Florin; Arianna Spann, Antelope; Acacia Tyler, Casa Roble; Kyanna Thurston, Highlands; Destiny Walker, Capital Christian; Kamrynn Williams, Monterey Trail

COACH OF THE YEAR

VIC PITTON, ST. FRANCIS

With Pitton stressing effort, fundamentals and trust on the floor, St. Francis was 29-6, its finest season in Division I. The Troubadours won the Delta League and the CIF Northern California Division I championship before losing to 10-time CIF State champion Brea Olinda in the state finals at Sleep Train Arena. It was St. Francis’ first appearance in the state finals since 1993, in Division III. Pitton, who called this his best and most enjoyable team, said the loss in the state title game didn’t define the team, the entire season did.

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