Brandon Forrest and Alexis Pettis Are This Year’s Palisadian-Post Cup Winners
By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
No two individuals made a greater impact on their respective teams this year than Brandon Forrest and Alexis Pettis. That is why they were chosen Palisadian-Post Cup winners as outstanding senior athletes at Palisades High.
The award has been given annually to the school’s top athlete ever since the campus opened in 1961 and for the second straight year the recipients play football and basketball.
Although the football season did not get underway until April 9 and consisted of only four games, Brandon Forrest made a huge impact both on and off the gridiron. A multi-faceted back, he led the Dolphins in touchdowns with four (three rushing and one receiving) and was a threat to score every time he touched the ball.
After football, he transitioned right into track where he emerged as one of Palisades’ top sprinters, leading off the 4×100 relay and running the 100-meter dash at City Finals. He is the third football player to be so honored in the last three years, joining defensive back Jake Nadley (2018) and linebacker Syaire Riley (2019).
Forrest was the offensive star on junior varsity as a sophomore—so good, in fact, that he was moved up to varsity after six games. He played both receiver and tailback as a junior, amassing a team-high 362 yards on kick returns, including a 90-yarder against University.
His electrifying speed iced Palisades’ 23-0 shutout of Garfield in its lone nonleague contest this spring and although most of his fellow 12th-graders sat out their final season, he never considered that option.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Forrest says. “We had a lot of seniors decide not to play or transfer out to better themselves for the future and they’re always going to be brothers. At the end of the day for me being a senior coming back felt right. It was my job to take control of the team and once we found out we were having a season after all there was no turning back.”
If an NFL opportunity does not materialize, Forrest will settle for a career in mechanical engineering. Whether lining up at running back, slot receiver or wideout, he just wants the rock in his hands.
“I improved a lot on my strength, my rout running and my quickness,” he adds. “In track, I worked on my technique out of the blocks.”
No one gives Forrest higher praise than Pali High football coach Tim Hyde, who is not the least but surprised that one of his most intense players wound up with the school’s most prestigious athletic honor.
“Brandon was a fantastic player and a terrific inspirational leader over his four years in our program,” Hyde says. “He was a fierce competitor who was never hesitant to put in the work to make himself better in everything that he did. In my eight years at Pali he is without a doubt one of the most versatile athletes I’ve coached. He was an electric kick return specialist and he played every skill position in our offense. The ultimate compliment I can give Brandon is that wherever the team needed him on a given Friday night, he played with relentless effort.”
Forrest’s fellow Post Cup winner is equally determined, dedicated and respected by her teammates. Pettis passed and dribbled the Dolphins to three City titles in her four years on varsity, the last two in the highest (Open) Division. In 2020 she and the Dolphins also won the Division II Southern Regional title, aided by Post Cup winner Jane Nwaba, who is now playing at Pepperdine.
Pettis lives in Gardena and went to Paul Revere Middle School with several of her Palisades teammates. Winning the Post Cup is recognition for the hard work she has put since she first put on a Dolphins jersey.
Interestingly, though, none of her siblings play sports. She has a twin sister Ashley, whom she says has had the biggest influence on her, and her older sister Brianna is a registered nurse practitioner and a graduate of Washington University. She has two brothers, Darren and Branden, who are business owners.
Pettis had two athletic and academic offers from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Eastern Washington University and she ultimately chose EWU, where she will major in exercise science and physical therapy.
Her favorite class at Pali High was U.S. History with African American focus and her favorite teacher was Mr. Miller because his class “was always a good place to learn and be comfortable.” The people she admires most are her mom and WNBA star Chelsea Gray.
Growing up, Pettis played basketball, did gymnastics and ran track. She chose basketball because it felt the most natural to her.
“When I first picked up a basketball at years old that’s all I wanted to do,” she says. She played club on California Storm and Team Taurasi.
She will most remember the first championship that she won at Pali High as a sophomore in 2018 because that was something she had never experienced before. She is most proud of being named City Player of the Year in 2021 because she has put her all into being her best.
As a point guard, Pettis is the quarterback of the offense and must recognize when a teammate is hot or know when to take over a game herself. Those are aspects of the game that she has learned through experience.
“What I like most about being point guard is being in control over the energy in a basketball game and being able to to do whatever it takes to win the game,” she says.
In her spare time Pettis likes to draw and express her creativity through clothes and fashion. She hopes to continue playing basketball and work in the field of physical therapy.
Palisades girls basketball coach Adam Levine is glad to have had Pettis leading the Dolphins the last three years.
“Alexis has meant everything to our program,” he says. “She shows up ready to play, gives us maxium effort at both ends of the court and is loved by all of her teammates. She’s extremely hard working and one of the toughest kids I’ve been around. She never takes a play off, her offense improved in terms of her shooting and decision making and she’s the best defensive player I’ve coached.”
Forrest and Pettis join a distinguished list at Pali High and their names will be engraved on the Post Cup plaque in the school’s main office.
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