Having been dealt its only loss on its home court in the Southern Section Open Division final, the Corona Centennial girls’ basketball team sought to return the favor Saturday night in Santa Ana.
Using stifling pressure defense, it did what it came to do.
The Huskies got 27 points from Jayda Curry and 19 more from Londynn Jones to hand host Mater Dei its first defeat, 65-51, and win the Southern California Regional championship. The game played out much like the previous encounter, with Centennial leading throughout the contest and the Monarchs trying to catch up.
“Our defense was the difference,” said Curry, who committed to California. “It wasn’t what we wanted last time, but we worked on it every practice since and maybe that loss is what we needed. Winning this is way bigger than CIF.”
The second-seeded Huskies (25-1) led 18-5 by the end of the first quarter. Top-seeded Mater Dei (21-1) closed to within 30-23 at halftime and got within one point twice in the third quarter, but the Huskies did not panic and built the margin back to 11 points heading into the fourth quarter.
Sydni Summers added 14 points for Centennial, which had knocked out San Diego Section Open Division semifinalist La Jolla Country Day and Central Section Open winner Clovis West to earn a much-anticipated rematch with the Monarchs.
“We came with more intensity this time and shared the ball better,” Summers said. “The last game taught me a big lesson: defense wins games!”
Mater Dei’s Kevin Kiernan, already the winningest girls’ basketball coach in state history, was assessed a technical foul with 3:40 left after a foul that put Centennial in the bonus. Summers put the game out of reach with a fall-away 3-pointer from the corner that gave the Huskies a 60-49 lead with 1:57 remaining.
Nalani White, whose buzzer-beater lifted Mater Dei to an 83-80 overtime victory and eighth section crown on June 10, had five points. Brooke Demetre, who netted a team-high 28 points in the section final, was held to two this time. Alyssa Durazo-Frescas led Mater Dei with 18.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Jones said. “If losing to them last time is what to took to get this win, it was worth it.”
Lynwood 58, Etiwanda 47: In the 1-AA girls’ final, Lynwood came away with a road victory. All-American Rayah Marshall scored 17 points in her final high school game before she heads off to USC.
Long Beach Poly 58, Anaheim Rosary 28: The Jackrabbits won the girls’ 1-A championship. Kalaya Buggs had 14 points.
St. John Bosco 70, Ribet 68: Scotty Washington scored 23 points and Lamaj Lewis 12 for the Braves in the 1-AA championship game.
Santa Margarita 66, Irvine Crean Lutheran 53: The Eagles won the 2-AA championship.