By Ray Hamill — The best is yet to come from Del Norte’s Lili Nunez, and that’s bad news for the rest of the H-DN.
The dynamic junior is coming off a sensational season where she led the Warriors to 20 wins as they pushed a very deep and talented Eureka team all the way in league play.
In fact, Nunez and the Warriors were the only local team to beat the Loggers.
“She’s always improving,” Del Norte head coach Justin Clifton said of Nunez, who averaged 19 points and just under nine rebounds a game. “Every game she gets better. Every game she’s learning and improving.”
She also was a lot of fun to watch and a player capable of taking over a game at any moment, while lifting a young Del Norte team to a hugely improved season.
And she could do it all, driving to the basket as effectively as any player on the North Coast, as well as playing tenacious defense and relentlessly inspiring her teammates.
“She was definitely our leader,” Clifton said of the multi-sport star, who is also one of the best volleyball players in the H-DN. “And she is the perfect kid to have on the team. She’s very coachable.”
Our player of the year award takes into account not just a player’s talents and how well she performed, but also how she carries herself on the court, how she plays in the biggest moments of the season, how much opposing players and coaches respect her as a player and fear her as an opponent, and the difference she makes to her team.
Like Cody Whitmer, who is our Boys Player of the Year, Nunez excelled in all of those areas.
And like with our Boys Player of the Year, it was also an extremely close call for the girls award this season with our runner-up, Eureka’s Kaitlin Giacone, equally impressive.
Giacone, who was named Big 5 MVP, led her team in scoring (12.1 points a game) and steals (3.3), and was second in assists (2.4) and third in rebounds (5).
“She did everything that was asked of her this year, and then some,” Eureka head coach Cliff Napoleon said of the junior guard, who also is a standout soccer and softball player. “As strong as this team was, KK stood out. She is one of the best athletes in the county. She is one of the smartest athletes in the county.”