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The Times' girls' basketball player of the year: Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis of Mater Dei

The top-rated player on the nation's top-ranked team, who will play at Connecticut, recalls special moments of being asked for her autograph and getting an award from Lisa Leslie.

April 05, 2011|By Melissa Rohlin

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis of Santa Ana Mater Dei was the top-rated high school girls' basketball player on the nation's top-ranked team. And she has already signed on to play for college powerhouse Connecticut next season. So picking a favorite memory from her senior year is difficult.

She recalls a time in Atlanta, when she was approached at the airport by a man who asked for her autograph. "It makes you feel special," said the 6-foot guard who was chosen by The Times as the girls' player of the year in Southern California.

There was also the time when Lisa Leslie, a three-time WNBA most valuable player, surprised her at Mater Dei by delivering the Gatorade national player of the year award.

Leslie had come to the school under the guise of giving the team a pep talk before it played for the Division I state championship.

The choice itself wasn't surprising at all. In her four years on the varsity, Mosqueda-Lewis led Mater Dei to three Southern Section championships, consecutive state titles and a record of 123-7. As a senior, she averaged 22 points and 6.1 rebounds.

Mater Dei Coach Kevin Kiernan doesn't struggle at all when asked to name his favorite Mosqueda-Lewis moment.

During the state championship game last month, Mater Dei fell behind Berkeley High, 16-4, in the opening minutes. Then Mosqueda-Lewis took over, scoring 33 points as the Monarchs rallied and pulled away to win, 59-47.

"I've never coached or coached against someone who can score so effortlessly," Kiernan said.

melissa.rohlin@latimes.com

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