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San Pedro High School girls basketball 2022-23 CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division 2 champions. (photo: Jamaal K. Street)

Not since the 1985-86 season has the San Pedro High School girls basketball team enjoyed a time quite like this.

While other programs like football, girls volleyball, softball, both cross-country teams, and several others at the school gained some credible success over the years (even their boys basketball counterparts won CIF-Los Angeles City Section titles in between), the 2022-23 school year was the year girls hoops took centerstage.

With a determined team led by a driven leader in head coach Kevin Simpson, the Lady Pirates achieved incredible success, turning heads and garnering everyone’s attention in late February by becoming CIF-LACS and Marine League champions for the first time in 37 years. They then took it further to become the first team in school history to reach a CIF Southern California Regional championship game. 

However, it wasn’t the encouraging kind of start this team was looking for, as San Pedro struggled out of the gate with five losses in their first six games. Things started to click for San Pedro once December began, and they split their four games in their inaugural Lady Pirate Holiday Classic to get their overall record to 9-8.

January 11, 2023, started the proverbial chain reaction of victories when the Lady Pirates, for only the second time since 1991, defeated perennial CIF-LACS power Narbonne of Harbor City 42-32 at home for their third straight Marine League win, and they never looked back, dominating the rest of the way to complete a perfect 10-0 league season.

Their only real threat was the rematch with Narbonne on January 27, where two game-winning free throws by junior point guard Noelani Raigans propelled San Pedro to a 49-47 victory for their first win over the Lady Gauchos on their home court in 32 years. From then on, nothing seemed impossible for the Lady Pirates, as they earned the top seed in the CIF-LACS Division 2 playoffs.

2023 Marine League and CIF-LACS Division 2 Player of the Year, Noelani Raigans. (photo: Jamaal K. Street)

In the first three rounds, San Pedro eliminated Roosevelt of Los Angeles, 70-46, held off league foe Carson, 69-62 (third win over Carson in 2022-2023), and then outlasted Bravo Medical Magnet, 50-39, to put San Pedro into the Division 2 final against Chatsworth Charter, a team looking to gain retribution from losing in this predicament one year ago to Verdugo Hills of Tujunga.

Putting on a defensive clinic, both the Lady Pirates and the Chancellors took turns putting up scoring runs each quarter. Still, with Chatsworth leading 43-38 in the closing minutes, Raigans provided the most crucial run of all. She made a decisive three-pointer followed by two free throws in the final minute to force overtime and then made the eventual game-winning basket with just over a minute to play in the extra frame, banking in another three-pointer for a 50-48 lead. Senior guard Jaliyah Robertson’s layup increased the advantage to four, and the Lady Pirates did just enough to hold on and win 52-51 for the Division 2 championship. 

Even though Raigans got perpetual praise from her teammates at the award ceremony with a rousing “MVP!” chant for scoring 13 of her game-high 18 points in the fourth quarter and overtime combined, the performances of fellow juniors Shalia Coleman (17 points) and Maia Wooldridge (8 points), before they both fouled out, were not overlooked.

All three of these All-City Division 2 selections and some other notable heroes on this team kept the good times rolling as the second seed of the CIF Southern California Regional Division 5 playoffs.

San Pedro defeated three straight CIF-Southern Section schools on their home floor in Riverside Prep (56-41), Laguna Beach (62-43), and St. Monica Prep of Santa Monica (53-51) before finally falling in the regional final 51-43, to eventual CIF Division 5 state runner-up Marina of Huntington Beach, ending the Lady Pirates’ incredible — and in some cases, improbable — 15-game winning streak.

Against St. Monica Prep on March 4, San Pedro trailed the entire first half and was in dire straits early in the third quarter until Simpson called upon freshman guard Madison Adrid, who delivered six points, none more critical than her winning mid-range jumper with five seconds left. The basketball gods were smiling on the Lady Pirates as the Mariners’ last-ditch attempt to steal the game rimmed out as time expired.

Raigans, the 2023 Marine League and CIF-LACS Division 2 Player of the Year, scored 10 of her game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter against St. Monica Prep and was awarded a Cal-Hi Sports All-State Division 5 selection. Coleman, Wooldridge, senior forward Aleisha Fizer, and junior guard Natalia Garcia join Raigans on the 2023 All-Marine League team.

On a year where the San Pedro girls volleyball and boys swimming teams also won CIF championships along with Port of Los Angeles High boys basketball taking home a CIF title, San Pedro girls basketball is your undisputed San Pedro Prep Sports Team of the Year. spt

photo of san pedro today author Jamaal k Street

Jamaal K. Street

Jamaal K. Street has been writing sports articles and features for San Pedro Today magazine since September 2013. His main objective is spreading the good news of high school sports all over San Pedro, California. Street is also a public address announcer and plays organ/keyboard at Mount Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in San Pedro.