Sierra Canyon powers past Corona Centennial and into Open Division title game

Izela Arenas of Sierra Canyon dribbles against Corona Centennial on Saturday night in an Open Division playoff game.
(Nick Koza)

Just before pregame player introductions Saturday night, Juju Watkins suddenly sprinted to the Chatsworth Sierra Canyon locker room as if she were running for Olympic gold.

Even the best of the best have momentary memory lapses, such as forgetting to put on their uniform jersey under their warmup shirt. She came rushing back, smiling and giggling.

Watkins went on to score 23 points in an all-around performance that helped propel Sierra Canyon to an 80-53 victory over Corona Centennial and send the Trailblazers (26-1) into Friday’s Southern Section Open Division championship game against unbeaten Etiwanda (27-0).


Kalib LaCount finished with 35 points on Friday as King/Drew rallied for a 53-49 victory over Palisades in the City Section Open Division playoffs.

MacKenly Randolph contributed 22 points, but the player who stepped forward when Sierra Canyon faced its most uncomfortable moment was sophomore guard Christy Reynoso.

Centennial (25-6) had cut a 15-point deficit in the third quarter to 47-43. Watkins was on the bench with three fouls. Who was going to help Sierra Canyon stop Centennial’s momentum?

It turned out to be Reynoso, who made three three-pointers, including a bank shot at the buzzer. Centennial never threatened again.

“Things didn’t look good,” Watkins said. “We needed those threes at crunch time.”

Newbury Park pulls out a 10-inning win over Hart; Sierra Canyon defeats Sherman Oaks Notre Dame in the Easton tournament semifinals.

“She’s been waiting for her chance to contribute,” Sierra Canyon coach Alicia Komaki said of Reynoso.

Komaki said she knew the game would involve a series of runs, and if her team could sustain consistency, it would prevail against the defending regional champion. Sydni Summers led Centennial with 13 points. Izela Arenas of Sierra Canyon did a good job defending Centennial’s Londynn Jones, who finished with 11 points after averaging 25 points this season.

Now comes a week of practice to prepare for an Etiwanda team that has faced few challenges all season. Etiwanda defeated Santa Ana Mater Dei 64-53. You can expect Komaki to give her former boss, Mater Dei coach Kevin Kiernan, a phone call to discuss Etiwanda.

“They have the most complete team I’ve seen in years,” Centennial coach Martin Woods said of the Eagles.

But Sierra Canyon has Watkins and a group of young, improving sophomores who are eager to play in their first championship game.

In Division 1, top-seeded Camarillo (28-1) had to rally on the road to pull out a 63-59 victory over North Torrance to advance to Wednesday’s semifinals against West Hills Chaminade. UCLA-bound Gabriela Jaquez scored 33 points. Chaminade secured a 75-64 win over Oxnard. Jessa Thurman scored 26 points and had 13 rebounds.

Girls’ water polo

Newport Harbor 11, Laguna Beach 6: Avery Montiel scored four goals to lead the Sailors to the Southern Section Open Division championship in girls’ water polo. Newport Harbor also won the boys’ water polo title.