ANAHEIM — The Huntington Beach High girls' basketball team had nearly enough firepower in its arsenal to knock off another giant.
Three days after taking down second-ranked El Toro, third-ranked Huntington Beach gave top-ranked Summit all it could handle in Friday's CIF Southern Section Division 1A championship game at Anaheim Arena.
The SkyHawks scored the final five points of the game to pull out a 56-51 victory to give the school its first Southern Section title in girls' basketball.
The Oilers were making their first championship game appearance in 34 years — they also finished runner-up in 1978 — and faced a pair of nine-point deficits late in the third quarter against the taller SkyHawks.
But a strong fourth quarter by the Seahawks had the game tied at 51 with 1:10 left before Summit reeled off the winning points.
"We're never out of games. Never. The kids know my motto all year, which is, 'Go for it,' " said Huntington Beach Coach Russ McClurg. "We've been underdogs all year and playing against giants [El Toro, Summit], I was hoping we'd be David again tonight. We just came up short."
Sunset League co-champion Huntington (25-5) tied the score at 51 when sophomore guard Paola Roa scored off a miss by senior point guard Kelsey Minato. Summit took the lead for good when 6-foot-2 senior forward Jillian Alleyne, who played on the same youth club team as Minato and Huntington senior guard Maya Kennedy, drove down court, scored and was fouled on the play. Alleyne converted her free throw with 49 seconds remaining.
Huntington missed its final two shots attempts down the stretch and Summit hit two more free throws.
The play that turned the game was the three-point play by Alleyne, who nearly drove the entire length of the floor on her game-winning shot. Her ability to drive in such a manner, despite her 6-2 frame, is one of her strengths, Summit Coach Latrina Duncan said.
"She's like a gazelle out there," Duncan said of Alleyne. "She's so fluid running down floor running like that."
Summit, which dropped to Division 1A this year after playing in Division 1AA, had its hands full from the start with Huntington. The Oilers pressed and ran, swarmed and hustled, and led early on. It was a three-to-five point spread much of the game until Summit twice built its lead to nine points near the end of the third quarter.
"First of all, I had heard that they [Huntington] could shoot the ball, but I didn't realize that, they can shoot the ball," Duncan said. "At one point in the first half, we were trading baskets with them. That wasn't our game plan. We had the advantage inside but we weren't taking advantage of it. We made some adjustments at halftime and went to our inside game in the second half.
"That No. 5 [Minato], she's a great player."
Minato, a four-year varsity performer, came up big in the title game. She had 10 of Huntington's 16 first-quarter points, as the Oilers took a 16-11 lead. She had 15 points by halftime but the Oilers trailed, 27-24, at the break. The SkyHawks trailed, 21-1,8 after a jump shot by Minato, but went on to outscore the Oilers, 9-3, over the final 5:45 of the half.
Summit, which was founded in 2006 — 100 years after Huntington opened its doors — scored the first four points of the second half to build 31-24 lead. A three-point shot by Kennedy ended a 7-0 run by the SkyHawks. Summit was up nine after Alleyne hit two free throws with 11 seconds left in the third quarter, but Nakaso nailed a three-point shot from the corner six seconds later. The junior forward, who scored her only basket of the game, was clobbered on the play by Alleyne but missed her foul shot. Still, Nakaso's big basket pulled the Oilers to within 42-36 heading into the fourth quarter.
A layup by Minato and a pair of three-point shots by Kennedy in the first two minutes of the final quarter brought Huntington into a 44-44 tie. Summit was up 49-46 when Adrianna Brodie hit a fade away shot inside the key, but the Oilers knotted the score one final time at 51 when Roa scored with just over a minute to play.
Minato added seven rebounds to her 24 points and Kennedy, another four-year varsity player, was the other Oiler in double-figures with 14 points.
Summit out rebounded Huntington, 29-19, in a game that had six lead changes and was tied on eight occasions.
"We had a great year," said McClurg, who was coaching in his fourth Southern Section title. Three times he led Calvary Chapel/Santa Ana to a CIF final, winning a title in 1999. "We had a nice following and had great alumni support here. I'm very proud of what the girls accomplished.
"I think the turning point to our season came at the Nike Tournament of Champions (Arizona). We struggled at that tournament but when we got home, the kids worked super hard in practice and had faith in the system we ran. The kids showed a lot of heart throughout the season and 25 wins is a pretty big milestone for this program."
Despite Friday's loss, the season wasn't over for Huntington. The Oilers played at San Diego High on Wednesday in the first round of the CIF State Championships SoCal Regional tournament. San Diego won the CIF San Diego Section Division 1 championship last week. The score wasn't available at press time.