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Predicting the biggest breakout girls basketball teams in Southern California in 2020-2021 season


It's never too early to look ahead to next season, right?

In Southern California high school girls basketball -- spanning the L.A. City, Southern and San Diego Sections -- there are three teams we've identified as poised for breakout seasons in 2020-2021. All three teams were strong this past season, but they are ready to take the next step. All three won playoff games at either the Division 1 or Open Division level, and all three have a strong basketball tradition.

Assuming these teams return their same non-seniors next year and continue to improve, they all have a great chance to contend for section titles and go on a run in the CIF state playoffs.

Breakout L.A. City Section team: Birmingham

Going down in the Division 1 quarterfinals last season and finishing the season with a losing record, it would be easy to overlook how potent Birmingham was. Nearly every single one of their losses came to good or great teams, many of them coming down to the wire: Pacifica (Oxnard), Palisades, Crescenta Valley, Clovis North, Leuzinger, Chaminade, Mount Miguel, Village Christian, El Camino Real, Taft (twice), Granada Hills Charter (twice), and Carson.

In the playoffs, drawing eventual finalist No. 7 Carson in the second round as the No. 2 seed in Division 1 was awful luck, as they were certainly a top-three team in the bracket but didn't play as many non-league games as most of their peers. While some of those games the Patriots could have won, there is not one single slouch in that group.

A lot of the upper echelon teams in the City Section will lose key seniors before next season. Many of them will still be in good shape to contend for Open Division playoff victories, and some will likely fall off. Birmingham will rise as a result of both some teams falling off and even more from returning just about their entire core. That includes their entire incumbent starting five returning, four of them as seniors.

They already have a few of the better players in the City, and all of them have remaining upside. Sophomore PG Janna Holley and PF/C Jazmyn Washington were First Team All-West Valley League last year. Holley's ability to take over games as a playmaker improved as the season went on, and Washington's strengths as a defensive anchor, rebounder, and occasional inside scorer will all be maximized with another year to get bigger.

Then there's combo guard Bita Hashemi who was Second Team All-League and one of the best two-way players in the section on her best days. An athletic, versatile guard, she has the upside to break out into a First Team All-City player next year with more consistency, especially hitting shots from the perimeter.

Additionally, they have another 18.8 points per game coming from sharp-shooting wing Andrea Salazar and face-up big Lily Ramos. Both have great touch from the field and feel for the game, and there's no reason they can't also take strides into First Team All-League-caliber players with room to spare.