In a game full of stars, Jordin Canada of Los Angeles Windward shined the brightest Friday night at Azusa Pacific University.
The UCLA-bound senior point guard ran the Wildcats' offense to perfection, finding open teammates to the tune of nine assists, and scored 14 points of her own in a shockingly one-sided 61-46 upset of top-seeded Santa Ana Mater Dei in the CIF Southern Section Open Division championship game.
Canada had plenty of help from her friends, as USC-bound center Kristen Simon scored 15 points, Macchi Smith had 14 and freshman guard Chelsey Gipson contributed 15 for the second-seeded Wildcats (24-2), who relished the role of underdog.
"We're Windward, we'll never be the favorites in any of these games," Windward Coach Vanessa Nygaard said. "It's just unbelievable. The greatest compliment we can get is that we play among champions and Mater Dei is the standard."
The question before the game was whether Canada could handle the Monarchs' stifling press. The answer was a resounding "Yes."
"My job was to break the press but my teammates were helping a lot by getting open," said Canada, who did not commit a turnover in the first half and had only one in her 30 minutes of play. "We worked extremely hard to get here. They gave us a run for our money but we've played bigger teams before so it was no big deal. We wanted to show we can play with the best teams."
The long-anticipated showdown between state and national powers proved to be a mismatch, as Windward raced to a huge first-half lead. Canada's fast-break layup and a pair of free throws by Gipson gave the Wildcats a 43-16 lead with 2:20 left in the second quarter.
Smith hit a jumper at the halftime buzzer to make it a 23-point margin in favor of the Wildcats, who held the team ranked No. 2 in the nation by USA Today to one field goal in the second quarter.
Mater Dei rallied briefly, but Smith hit a jumper at the halftime buzzer to make it a 23-point margin in favor of the Wildcats, who held the team ranked No. 2 in the nation by USA Today to one field goal in the second quarter.
Katie Lou Samuelson scored 14 points and Andee Velasco had nine for the Monarchs (26-2), who had won 15 straight games since a loss to Albany St. Mary's at the Real Run Showcase Jan. 3 in Inglewood.
Windward scored the first five points and opened a 19-9 lead with 2:21 left in the first quarter on Canada's steal and pass to Simon for an uncontested layup. Back-to-back three-pointers by Canada and Emily Surloff made it 33-14 Windward less than two minutes into the second quarter.
The win assured Windward of the No. 1 seeding in the Southern California Regionals, but Mater Dei might get a chance at revenge in the regional final March 22 in Ontario.