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Sierra Canyon claims second Open Division state title with win over Sheldon

Sierra Canyon claims second Open Division state title with win over Sheldon
Sierra Canyon forward KJ Martin finishes off a dunk against Sheldon during the first half Saturday. (Nick Koza)

Chatsworth Sierra Canyon doesn’t just desire to win basketball championships. It aims to entertain in the process.

In Saturday’s CIF state Open Division championship game at Golden 1 Center, the Trailblazers came out in the first quarter and committed nine turnovers, giving underdog Sacramento Sheldon some hope. It was a ragged, tepid opening act.

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By the second quarter, a three-point Sierra Canyon lead quickly grew to 18 with a series of spectacular dunks, blocked shots and transition baskets during a 15-0 blitz.

Trailblazers defeat Sheldon 76-52

There was smiling and giggling in the Sierra Canyon huddle. Call it fun times in Sactown.

A left-handed dunk by 15-year-old freshman Amari Bailey that resulted in him crashing to the court on his back while being fouled drew oohs and ahhs as it was shown on the replay screen.

Sierra Canyon rolled to a 76-52 victory over Sheldon to become the first team to win back-to-back Open Division state championships.

KJ Martin scored 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, Cassius Stanley scored 20 points and Terren Frank 13.

“We didn’t want to admit it, but we were nervous,” Stanley said. “We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. In the second quarter, we calmed down and broke it open.”

The Sierra Canyon girls’ team also won the Open Division state title, making it a historic night, especially for Trailblazers coach Andre Chevalier, whose daughter, Ashley, scored 20 points for the girls’ team.

The Chevaliers displayed tears during an emotional hug before the boys’ game. They’d end up celebrating two state titles 90 minutes apart.

“For me personally to see my daughter win a championship, it’s surreal,” Chevalier said.

The Trailblazers were the No. 1 team in California from beginning to end during a 32-3 season. Temecula Rancho Christian was the only team from California to beat the Trailblazers, and that loss on the final day of the regular season might have helped prevent any lapses during the postseason.

Sierra Canyon guard Amari Bailey scores inside against Sheldon during the first half Saturday.
Sierra Canyon guard Amari Bailey scores inside against Sheldon during the first half Saturday. (Nick Koza)

“It did help us,” Chevalier said. “It set us up and allowed us to lock in.”

Martin was simply fabulous in the last two games, making shot after shot.

He was 14 of 15 in the regional final and 10 of 17 on Saturday.

“They shared the basketball. They played defense. It was wonderful,” Chevalier said.

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