It’s two years in a row that a Mater Dei player earns top statewide honor as Fields tops teammate Jordan Adams and three others to be the Cal-Hi Sports Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year.
Her stay at Mater Dei of Santa Ana was a short one, but Nirra Fields certainly made her mark on one of the most successful programs in recent California girls basketball history.
Now, after leading her team to its third straight CIF state championship, the Canadian-born Fields joins Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis to become the second consecutive Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year to wear a Monarch uniform.
“It wasn’t my goal to win Ms. Basketball or Gatorade Player of the Year, but it’s definitely an honor coming from Canada where it’s not really known for basketball but hockey,” said Fields, who last month was named Gatorade California Player of the Year.
The UCLA-committed under-19 Canadian National Team member played at three different high schools before deciding to move west this year and live under the legal guardianship of Los Angeles Lakers’ coach Mike Brown and his wife.
“It was much easier than my first three years,” Fields remarked. “I had never been on a team with a winning tradition so I found my place at Mater Dei.”
Not only did she find her place, she literally carried the team during a three-week period last December at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona and during a trip to Washington D.C. when fellow star and USC-bound Jordan Adams was out with an ankle injury.
“I played with Nirra when she was on the Canadian National Team so I knew what she could do and how she played,” Adams told Cal-Hi Sports after the 57-40 Division I state title game victory over Berkeley, in which Fields finished with a double-double 24 points and 11 rebounds, with six assists. She was 7-of-14 shooting from the field and 10-for-10 from the free-throw line.
“When I got here it was great. Everyone welcomed me,” said Fields. “Coach (Kevin Kiernan) told me my role was to score consistently so that’s what I did.”
Adams, a four-year starter at Mater Dei, also was a finalist for the Ms. Basketball honor along with junior Kelsey Plum of La Jolla Country Day, senior Hannah Huffman from Carondelet of Concord and sophomore Jordin Canada from Windward of Los Angeles.
For the season and on a team with three Division I college players, Fields had per game averages of 23 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals.
“She’s a very gifted scorer so we told her in the beginning ‘Score, Nirra, Score,’” said Kiernan, who won his sixth state championship this season.
“We were incredibly blessed she came to us, dropped in our laps,” continued Kiernan. “She was the perfect fit because we knew we were going to be a perimeter team that takes a lot of jump shots – and Nirra doesn’t work off a lot of screens, she just gets the ball and goes.”
Indeed she goes, including when she turned some heads by scoring 20 points for the West in the McDonald’s All-America Game last month.
“She was the best player in the McDonald’s game,” said ESPNHS senior basketball writer Ronnie Flores, who witnessed her performances several times this season, including the game in Chicago.
The 5-foot-9 Fields, the ESPNHS Girls Basketball No. 11 overall player and No. 3 guard in the nation, and who maintains a B average in the classroom, was also chosen for Women’s Basketball Coaches Association All-America game.
“It was unique experience playing at Mater Dei and one I’ll never forget.”
Fields will also be remembered by getting her name alongside all the great players that have won the Ms. Basketball honor.
OF THE YEAR
(All selections by ESPNHS Cal-Hi Sports)
Note: All-time list before 1980 compiled by our founder, the late Nelson Tennis, based on research.
2012 Nirra Fields, Santa Ana Mater Dei, 5-8
2011 Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Santa Ana Mater Dei, 6-0
2010 Chelsea Gray, Stockton St. Mary’s, 5-11
2009 Layshia Clarendon, San Bernardino Cajon, 5-9
2008 Jasmine Dixon, Long Beach Poly, 5-11
2007 Jeanette Pohlen, Brea Olinda, 6-1
2006 Jacki Gemelos, Stockton St. Mary's, 6-0
2005 Courtney Paris, Piedmont, 6-4
2004 Candice Wiggins, La Jolla Country Day, 5-11
2003 Dominique Banks, Stockton St. Mary's, 5-8
2002 Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood, Lynwood, 5-7 Soph.
2001 Loree Moore, Harbor City Narbonne, 5-8
2000 Diana Taurasi, Chino Don Lugo, 5-11
1999 Diana Taurasi, Chino Don Lugo, 5-11 Jr.
1998 Michelle Greco, La Crescenta Crescenta Valley, 5-10
1997 Erin Buescher, Santa Rosa Rincon Valley Christian, 6-2
1996 Maylana Martin, Perris, 6-3
1995 Renee Robinson, Atherton Sacred Heart Prep, 5-10
1994 Nicole Erickson, Brea Olinda, 5-7
1993 Danielle Viglione, Fair Oaks Del Campo, 5-10
1992 Charisse Sampson, Los Angeles Washington, 5-11
1991 Tanda Rucker, Berkeley, 507
1990 Lisa Leslie, Inglewood Morningside, 6-5
1989 Lisa Leslie, Inglewood Morningside, 6-5 Jr.
1988 Trise Jackson, Lynwood, 507
1987 Terri Mann, San Diego Point Loma, 6-2
1986 Terri Mann, San Diego Point Loma, 6-2 Jr.
1985 Sharon Turner, Oceanside El Camino, 5-9
1984 Doretha Conwell, Los Angeles Locke, 6-3
1983 Doretha Conwell, Los Angeles Locke, 6-3 Jr.
1982 Cheryl Miller, Riverside Poly, 6-2
1981 Cheryl Miller, Riverside Poly, 6-2 Jr.
1980 Jackie White, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial, 5-8
1979 Jackie White, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial, 5-8 Jr.
1978 Jackie White, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial, 5-8 Soph.
1977 Denise Curry, Davis, 6-1
1976 Denise Curry, Davis, 6-1 Jr.
1975 Anita Ortega, Los Angeles, 5-9
1974 Ann Meyers, La Habra Sonora, 5-9
1973 Ann Meyers, Anaheim Connelly, 5-8 Jr.
1972 Ann Meyers, La Habra Sonora, 5-8 Soph.
Note: List extends back with assorted years back to 1905 in the Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book and Almanac.
Corrections or comments? Email Mark.Tennis@espn.com.