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High school girls basketball: No. 3 Etiwanda beats No. 4 Sierra Canyon 65-44 for Southern Section Open Division title

Reigning CIF state champion goes wire-to-wire using 20-point third period to grab MaxPreps Top 25 showdown.

In what’s likely to be the first round of a two-round battle, No. 3 Etiwanda (Calif.) beat No. 4 Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) 65-44 on Friday in the Southern Section Open Division final at Cal Baptist University.

The MaxPreps top 25 battle was the opening salvo in what’s become an annual run for a CIF Open Division title.

Friday was the third straight season Etiwanda and Sierra Canyon have met for the section title. Should the two find their way to the Southern California Open Division regional final, it would also mark the third straight season the Eagles and Trailblazers battle for the right to play for the state title.

Etiwanda won the Open Division title in 2023 while Sierra Canyon was the 2022 state champion. In each team’s title run, they lost the Southern Section final.

After scoring 20 points in the first half and leading by five at intermission, Etiwanda exploded for 20 points in the third period to open its edge to 40-25 heading into the final eight minutes. Arynn Finley hit a big 3-pointer, Grace Knox had six points, and Kennedy Smith and Mykelle Richards played smothering defense in limiting Sierra Canyon to its lowest output all season.

Knox finished with a game-high 19 points, Aliyahna Morris had 15, Richards added 13 and Smith finished with 13.

Sierra Canyon was paced 17 from sophomore Jerzy Robinson, 14 from Mackenly Randolph and 11 from Izela Arenas. The Trailblazers were 0 for 12 from 3-point range.

Etiwanda opened an 11-4 lead after one quarter on the strength of a trio of 3-pointers, two from Richards. Sierra Canyon couldn’t get going offensively, shooting 1 of 9 from the field in the first eight minutes with eight turnovers.

But the Trailblazers strung together a 6-0 run in the middle of the second quarter before Smith stopped the string with a pair of free throws. Etiwanda took a 20-15 lead into halftime before a Robinson field goal on the Trailblazers’ opening offensive set cut it to a one-possession game for the first time since the opening minutes.

Etiwanda outscored Sierra Canyon 20-8 for the rest of the third period to open up a 40-25 lead heading into the fourth. The only concern for the Eagles was foul trouble for Richards, who picked her fourth with 1:38 left in the period and Knox who was whistled for her fourth with 3 second in the quarter.

That wouldn’t be a factor, however, as the Eagles opened up leads of 49-34 halfway through the quarter and a 59-39 edge with just over 2 minutes remaining.

The victory ensures Etiwanda will grab the No. 1 seed in the CIF Southern California Open Division regional when the brackets are announced Sunday afternoon.

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