Monday, July 15, 2024

Sierra Canyon girls basketball falls to Etiwanda in CIF-SS Open Division final

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Sierra Canyon's Jerzy Robinson #5, searches for a spot to shoot during the CIF Southern Section Open Division girls basketball championship against Etiwanda at California Baptist University's Fowler Events Center in Riverside on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Anjali Sharif-Paul, The Sun/SCNG)
Sierra Canyon’s Jerzy Robinson #5, searches for a spot to shoot during the CIF Southern Section Open Division girls basketball championship against Etiwanda at California Baptist University’s Fowler Events Center in Riverside on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Anjali Sharif-Paul, The Sun/SCNG)

RIVERSIDE — Both the Etiwanda and Sierra Canyon girls basketball teams experienced early jitters playing in front of a large crowd at Cal Baptist University with the CIF Southern Section Open Division title on the line.

But even amidst the early nerves, when shots weren’t falling, Etiwanda stayed true to its identity of being a physical team that hustles on both sides of the court.

The 50-50 balls went Etiwanda’s way. The calls in the paint tilted in the Eagles’ favor. The hard-nosed defense led to a flurry of Sierra Canyon turnovers.

  • Sierra Canyon’s Jerzy Robinson #5, scores in the in the...

    Sierra Canyon’s Jerzy Robinson #5, scores in the in the CIF Southern Section Open Division girls basketball championship as Etiwanda attempts to block at California Baptist University’s Fowler Events Center in Riverside on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Anjali Sharif-Paul, The Sun/SCNG)

  • Etiwanda girls basketball team wins the CIF Southern Section Open...

    Etiwanda girls basketball team wins the CIF Southern Section Open Division championship against Sierra Canyon at California Baptist University’s Fowler Events Center in Riverside on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Anjali Sharif-Paul, The Sun/SCNG)

  • Etiwanda girls basketball team cheers after winning the CIF Southern...

    Etiwanda girls basketball team cheers after winning the CIF Southern Section Open Division championship against Sierra Canyon at California Baptist University’s Fowler Events Center in Riverside on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Anjali Sharif-Paul, The Sun/SCNG)

  • Etiwanda girls basketball team smiles big after winning the CIF...

    Etiwanda girls basketball team smiles big after winning the CIF Southern Section Open Division championship against Sierra Canyon at California Baptist University’s Fowler Events Center in Riverside on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Anjali Sharif-Paul, The Sun/SCNG)

  • Etiwanda’s Arynn Finley #2 makes a jump shot in the...

    Etiwanda’s Arynn Finley #2 makes a jump shot in the CIF Southern Section Open Division girls basketball championship against Sierra Canyon at California Baptist University’s Fowler Events Center in Riverside on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Anjali Sharif-Paul, The Sun/SCNG)

  • Etiwanda’s Mykelle Richards #22 makes her way down the court...

    Etiwanda’s Mykelle Richards #22 makes her way down the court in the CIF Southern Section Open Division girls basketball championship against Sierra Canyon at California Baptist University’s Fowler Events Center in Riverside on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Anjali Sharif-Paul, The Sun/SCNG)

  • Etiwanda’s Mykelle Richards #22 looks toward her teammate for the...

    Etiwanda’s Mykelle Richards #22 looks toward her teammate for the ball in the CIF Southern Section Open Division girls basketball championship against Sierra Canyon at California Baptist University’s Fowler Events Center in Riverside on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Anjali Sharif-Paul, The Sun/SCNG)

  • Etiwanda’s Aliyahna Morris #25 cheers after winning the CIF Southern...

    Etiwanda’s Aliyahna Morris #25 cheers after winning the CIF Southern Section Open Division girls basketball championship against Sierra Canyon at California Baptist University’s Fowler Events Center in Riverside on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Anjali Sharif-Paul, The Sun/SCNG)

  • Etiwanda’s Aliyahna Morris #25, takes the last shot of the...

    Etiwanda’s Aliyahna Morris #25, takes the last shot of the CIF Southern Section Open Division girls basketball championship against Sierra Canyon at California Baptist University’s Fowler Events Center in Riverside on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Anjali Sharif-Paul, The Sun/SCNG)

  • Sierra Canyon’s Jerzy Robinson #5, takes her shot as the...

    Sierra Canyon’s Jerzy Robinson #5, takes her shot as the Etiwanda defense attempts to block during the CIF Southern Section Open Division girls basketball championship at California Baptist University’s Fowler Events Center in Riverside on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Anjali Sharif-Paul, The Sun/SCNG)

  • Etiwanda’s Kennedy Smith #11 takes the ball down the court...

    Etiwanda’s Kennedy Smith #11 takes the ball down the court as Sierra Canyon’s Jerzy Robinson #5 attempts to block during the CIF Southern Section Open Division girls basketball championship at California Baptist University’s Fowler Events Center in Riverside on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Anjali Sharif-Paul, The Sun/SCNG)

  • Sierra Canyon’s Jerzy Robinson #5, takes her shot as the...

    Sierra Canyon’s Jerzy Robinson #5, takes her shot as the Etiwanda defense attempts to block during the CIF Southern Section Open Division girls basketball championship at California Baptist University’s Fowler Events Center in Riverside on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Anjali Sharif-Paul, The Sun/SCNG)

  • Sierra Canyon’s Jerzy Robinson #5, searches for a spot to...

    Sierra Canyon’s Jerzy Robinson #5, searches for a spot to shoot during the CIF Southern Section Open Division girls basketball championship against Etiwanda at California Baptist University’s Fowler Events Center in Riverside on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Anjali Sharif-Paul, The Sun/SCNG)

  • Sierra Canyon’s Jerzy Robinson #5, searches for a spot to...

    Sierra Canyon’s Jerzy Robinson #5, searches for a spot to shoot during the CIF Southern Section Open Division girls basketball championship against Etiwanda at California Baptist University’s Fowler Events Center in Riverside on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Anjali Sharif-Paul, The Sun/SCNG)

The overall physicality was the main factor in Etiwanda’s 65-44 victory of the Trailblazers Friday, leading to the program’s second CIF-SS championship in three seasons.

Sierra Canyon head coach Alicia Komaki said the game was the “worst basketball game” in her Sierra Canyon career.

“Etiwanda is always more physical than us,” she added, “they’re a physical program. That’s a staple of their program.”

After the initial few minutes passed, the Eagles started to find their rhythm on 3-pointers. Mykelle Richards hit two 3-pointers and Aliyahna Morris made one to give Etiwanda an early cushion.

The Trailblazers fought their way back in the second quarter with Mackenly Randolph and Jerzy Robinson leading the way.

The duo was able to score in the paint and even got their hands on some second-chance opportunities. Randolph had nine offensive rebounds and Robinsons had seven. But their shots were seemingly always contested.

Etiwanda’s Grace Knox and Kennedy Smith stood tall in the paint, making things difficult for Sierra Canyon all night.

Both players even took a shot to the face during the action, but they weren’t phased, as they got back up and stayed in the game.

“Me and Kennedy have good body types that we know how to use. Just be strong with our bodies,” Knox said. “And I think just being able to read what they were going to do, learning their habits and how to defend them.”

“Our goal was to come out with energy and play hard,” Smith said. “They play really hard so we had to match their energy and I think that shook them up a little bit.”

Knox led the Eagles in scoring and rebounding, logging a game-high 19 points and 12 rebounds. Smith finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Richards and Morris added 13 points apiece.

Robinson led Sierra Canyon 17 points and 15 rebounds. Randolph finished with 14 points and 16 rebounds.

The Trailblazers could meet the Eagles again in the CIF State Open tournament.

Going back to the 2021-22 season, the programs have exchanged Open Division championships in the Southern Section and state.

Etiwanda defeated Sierra Canyon for the CIF-SS Open title in 2022, but lost to the Trailblazers in the semifinals of the state tournament.

Sierra Canyon won the Southern Section Open crown in 2023 but lost to the Eagles in the state playoffs.

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