CIF High School Basketball: Juju Watkins shines as No. 3 Sierra Canyon defeats No. 24 Archbishop Mitty for Open Division title

It was the second straight California title for the Trailblazers, the No. 3 MaxPreps Top 25 ranked team, and the fifth in 10 years for coach Alicia Komaki.

“We knew our fate,” said Komaki, who is 5-0 in state title competition. “We knew we were going to be on the road, play a tough San Diego team to start, go to La Jolla, (then) we’ll go to Etiwanda again (in the Southern Regionals) and then hopefully , traveling all the way to Sacramento.”

And when the Trailblazers arrived in the capital, they wasted no time establishing their dominance.

“Well, being a math teacher, I started doing math pretty quickly,” Mitty’s trainer Sue Phillips said when asked when she realized the night might be long.

Of course, all eyes were on Watkins, the No. 2 for the Class of 2023, who did not disappoint.

Photo by David Steutel

Sierra Canyon players celebrate their 85-61 victory over Archbishop Mitty on Saturday in the CIF Open Division Championship at the Golden 1 Center.

She scored her first bucket after picking up a defensive rebound, one of 19 in total on the night, weaving through Archbishop Mitty’s No. 24 defense before stopping and jumping off the line. free throws.

Sierra Canyon had a 21-14 lead after one quarter and Watkins opened the second with a 3-pointer from the NBA range. And when she wasn’t breaking her ankles with her moves, she was doing the dirty work on the defensive glass or finding an open teammate as the Monarchs sent waves of defenders at her.

“I think we’re all very aware of Juju’s talent, but we’re a really talented team,” Komaki said of the Windward transfer. “And before she jumped in here and joined us, we were young and hungry and ready to get to this level. She sped it up, 1,000 percent.”

Phillips agreed, “She can score on all three levels. She’s so incredibly gifted coupled with athleticism and I think one of the best things she does is rebound and she hasn’t really touched the offensive glass.”

Sierra Canyon's Juju Watkins scored a game-<a class=high 23 in the Trailblazers’ 85-61 win over Mitty.”/>

Photo by David Steutel

Sierra Canyon’s Juju Watkins scored a game-high 23 in the Trailblazers’ 85-61 win over Mitty.

But the Trailblazers aren’t a one-trick pony as two players — Izela Arenas and MacKenly Randolph — have NBA pedigree with fathers Gilbert Arenas and Zac Randolph. In addition, Chinese-born Crystal Wang provides low-post presence and sharp-shooting Christy Reynoso hit four massive 3-pointers with Watkins on the bench.

“Christy does what she does all the time,” Komaki said. “We can all play a little.”

All five Sierra Canyon starters finished in double digits while Reynoso added 14 off the bench.

Sierra Canyon (30-2) built a 41-27 halftime lead and held on to a lead that hovered around 20 points for most of the fourth quarter. All against a Mitty team that came 30-1, but ran into a buzzsaw.

“We weren’t quite up to the challenge tonight and Sierra Canyon was fantastic,” Phillips said. “And while we may not have shown all the hard work, these young women own four wins over teams that won state championships over the weekend.”

Makayla Moore led the Monarchs with 14 points off the bench and Morgan Cheli added 11 and Siena Guttadauro added 10.

Morgan Cheli, Archbishop Mitty

Photo by David Steutel

Morgan Cheli, Archbishop Mitty

Bishop Mitty – 14, 13, 18, 16 – 61
Sierra Canyon – 21, 20, 21, 23 – 85
Monarchs – Cherry 2, Hanson 2, Woods 2, Anderson 2, Bariteau 9, Guttadauro 10, Cheli 11, Moore 14
Trail Blazers – Bay 2, Malek 4, Wang 5, Edwards 12, Arenas 12, Randolph 13, Reynoso 14, Watkins 23
3 points – AM: 6 (Bariteau, Cheli, Moore 2, Guttadauro; SC: 10 (Arenas 2, Watkins 2, Edwards 2, Reynoso

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