Through all the missed shots and squandered leads, Christian Jackson never had a doubt she and her Lakewood Artesia teammates would win their third consecutive Southern Section girls' basketball championship.
"I knew we had it," the senior guard said as she tapped her heart. "You have to feel it in here."
Second-seeded Artesia took a 14-point halftime lead, frittered away almost all of it, then relied on Jackson to catch fire in the fourth quarter for a 57-55 victory over top-seeded Santa Margarita in the Division III-AA final on Saturday at the Pyramid in Long Beach.
Jackson missed her first eight shots.
"[Missed shots] don't faze me," said Jackson, who finished with 15 points, 12 in the fourth quarter. "If they don't fall, I just keep shooting."
Santa Margarita (25-5) averaged 70 points in three previous playoff games but shot only 18% in the first half, falling behind, 30-16.
The Eagles closed to within 56-55 on Jessi Walker's three-point basket with 4.5 seconds left and got the ball back one second later after Jackson made one of two free throws. But Artesia's Brittany Imaku stole the ball from Julia Pederson to clinch the victory.
Pederson finished with 21 points for Santa Margarita, which had won 16 of its last 17 games to advance to its first final.
Cacie Pope scored 18 of her 22 points in the first half and had seven rebounds for Artesia (21-9), which won its fourth section title.
San Clemente 68, Newhall Hart 38 -- A rematch of last season's Division I-A final was no match at all. Lindsey Pluimer had 24 points, 11 rebounds and six blocked shots and Sara Brown scored 20 points for top-seeded San Clemente (27-3), which won its third consecutive section title.
The Tritons led, 33-14, at halftime, shot 62% (18 for 29) through three quarters and led by as many as 34 points in the fourth quarter. They also outrebounded the second-seeded Indians, 36-21.
Amanda Patton had 11 points and Ashlee Trebilcock added nine for Hart (24-6), which was trying to avenge a 67-60 loss to San Clemente in last season's final.
-- Dave Desmond
Torrance Bishop Montgomery 64, La Puente Bishop Amat 40 -- The third meeting of the season, this time in the Division III-A championship game, between the first- and second-place teams from the Del Rey League was nothing like the previous two, won by Bishop Montgomery, 50-40 and 53-51 in overtime.
The top-seeded Knights (23-7) stretched their lead to 33 points, 55-22, late in the third quarter with the last of Noelle Quinn's 29 points. Quinn also had eight assists and six steals, while Nykia Peace finished with 18 points, eight assists and five steals.
"I've seen [Bishop Montgomery] play a lot of games and that was one of their better performances," said Coach Richard Wiard of Bishop Amat (28-5), which has lost nine in a row to the Knights during the Quinn era. "We didn't do anything right."
It's the fourth consecutive section title for the three-time state champion Knights.
Hesperia Christian 53, Atascadero North County Christian 46 -- Top-seeded Hesperia Christian (23-5) closed the game with an 8-0 run to win the Division V-A championship in its first title-game appearance.
Jenna Ratke, who had 14 rebounds and seven points, gave Hesperia a 47-46 lead with 2:02 left, and North County Christian (20-6) missed its next five field-goal attempts.
Emily Mattson and Brett Hardie each had 11 points for North County.
Westlake Village Oaks Christian 53, Burbank Bell-Jeff 44 -- Fourth-seeded Oaks Christian outscored second-seeded Bell-Jeff, 18-4, in the first quarter and shot 46.2% (24 of 52) for the game to win the Division IV-A title, its first.
Cherhara Shields led Oaks Christian with 19 points on nine-of-15 shooting and had 11 rebounds. Jennae Peoples led Bell-Jeff with 22 points and 14 rebounds.
-- Martin Henderson