Posted by Erik Boal on December 29, 2019 at 19:12:49:
Six of the most talented girls basketball teams in California, including the top four ranked programs, will be showcased in elite division championship games of three of the state's most prestigious tournaments Monday.
Here is a breakdown of the matchups as a great decade of girls basketball ends in fitting fashion:
17th So Cal Holiday Prep Classic Premier Division final
La Jolla Country Day (16-0) vs. Long Beach Poly (9-2), 5 p.m. at Del Norte HS
For the first time since 2011, an undefeated Country Day team will face Poly in a tournament final. The teams haven't met since the first round of the 2016 Open Division state regional playoffs, a 46-39 victory for the Jackrabbits.
In 2011, Country Day earned its only win against Poly, a 53-41 triumph at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona on the way to capturing the John Anderson Division title. Ten days later, the Jackrabbits gained a measure of revenge, with Justyce Dawson scoring a layup at the buzzer to knock off an 11-0 Torreys team 50-48 in overtime in the final of the Oaks Christian Holiday Hardwood Invitational.
It would be the only loss that season for a 32-1 La Jolla Country Day team, led by Kelsey Plum, which went on to capture the 2012 Division IV state title.
Poly is 6-1 all-time against Country Day, including wins in 2002 and 2003 against teams led by Candice Wiggins.
Poly won't just have to contend with one Country Day star this time around, but a pair of productive scorers in senior Te-Hina Paopao and freshman Breya Cunningham. The duo became the first teammates in Country Day history to both score at least 30 points in the same game, with Cunningham contributing 35 points and Paopao adding 32 points in an 89-47 pool-play victory Dec. 27 over Mission Hills.
Poly boasts perhaps the state's top defense, allowing only 114 points in three tournament games, including its third overtime victory of the season Dec. 28 with a 55-49 triumph over Cathedral Catholic. Kalaya Buggs, Nala Williams and Ashlee Lewis have led the Jackrabbits to their second tournament final of the season, including a 52-46 overtime victory Dec. 7 over Mater Dei in the Troy Classic championship game.
20th West Coast Jamboree Platinum Division final
Sierra Canyon (12-2) vs. Mater Dei (12-1), 7:30 p.m. at College Park HS
Mater Dei is playing in its fourth tournament championship game this season and Sierra Canyon is competing in its third final of the year.
But this one is unique because it marks only the third all-time meeting involving the programs, including the first in any tournament title contest.
Sierra Canyon coach Alicia Komaki played at Troy High under coach Kevin Kiernan. She then coached with Kiernan, working as his top assistant at Mater Dei, before arriving at Sierra Canyon in 2012.
Mater Dei prevailed 75-28 in the first meeting of the teams in the 2014 CIF Southern Section Open Division quarterfinals, before the Trailblazers secured a 53-43 victory in the rematch in the 2016 Troy Classic.
Mater Dei rallied from a 13-point halftime deficit Dec. 28 against Archbishop Mitty by opening the second half on a 20-2 run to secure a 47-41 semifinal victory. Sierra Canyon edged St. Joseph Notre Dame 49-47 in the other semifinal.
Guard play will factor prominently in the outcome, with Sierra Canyon relying on seniors Vanessa DeJesus and Ashley Chevalier against Mater Dei's Alyssa Frescas and Caia Elisaldez.
Two of the most athletically gifted competitors in the state will also be showcased with Mater Dei junior Brooke Demetre and Sierra Canyon senior Alexis Mark expected to match up during the contest.
The last time Mater Dei won the Platinum Division title was 2013 with an 81-72 victory over Stockton St. Mary's. Sierra Canyon is making its first appearance at the tournament.
Mater Dei won the Battle at the Beach at Redondo Union, along with the Iolani Classic in Hawaii. The Monarchs lost 52-46 in overtime Dec. 7 to Long Beach Poly in the Troy Classic final. Sierra Canyon won its own tournament championship, then suffered a 44-43 setback to La Jolla Country Day in the Joe Smith Division final Dec. 21 at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona.
11th West Coast Holiday Festival Gold Division final
Corona Centennial (13-2) vs. Redondo Union (4-6), 7:30 p.m. at Burbank Burroughs HS
Both teams are making their first appearances in this tournament final, with Centennial seeking a second overall title this year after capturing the Marlborough Great 8 championship Dec. 7 with a 73-57 victory over Lynwood.
Since losing all four games in its own Battle at the Beach tournament, Redondo has gotten healthier, welcoming back senior Anna Johnson and junior Calli Stokes, who have contributed to three tournament victories, including a 90-78 overtime triumph Dec. 26 against Flintridge Prep.
Centennial had to rally from a six-point deficit in the fourth quarter Dec. 28 against Granada Hills to earn a 52-44 victory to advance to the final.
Jayda Curry and Trinity San Antonio lead Centennial, which is looking to extend a six-game winning streak and continue momentum into the new year, especially with a Jan. 4 nonleague matchup at Long Beach Poly.
The teams have only met once before, with Redondo winning 61-24 in the second round of the 2017 CIF Southern Section Division 1-AA playoffs.
In addition to these finals Monday, there are a total of 17 division championship games at the West Coast Jamboree and seven division title contests at the So Cal Holiday Prep Classic.
There is also a silver division championship featuring Santa Monica and Westchester at the West Coast Holiday Festival, as well as host La Canada facing Hamilton in the La Canada New Year's Ball final, along with Thousand Oaks squaring off against Inglewood in the gold division title game at the Bishop Conaty-Loretto Wildcat Holiday tourney, which also includes a silver division finals matchup involving Wiseburn-Da Vinci and L.A. Wilson, along with a bronze division championship showdown between Fairfax and South East.
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