Sierra Canyon girls basketball beats Mater Dei for third straight Open Division finals appearance

Sierra Canyon’s Jerzy Robinson, right, and Emilia Krstevski react after Robinson’s three-point shot against Mater Dei in the final round of CIF-SS Open Division pool play, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024, at Sierra Canyon School. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker, contributing photographer)

Sierra Canyon’s Jerzy Robinson shoots against Mater Dei in the final round of CIF-SS Open Division pool play, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024, at Sierra Canyon School. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker, contributing photographer)

Sierra Canyon’s Mackenly Randolph shoots against Mater Dei’s Emily Shaw in the final round of CIF-SS Open Division pool play, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024, at Sierra Canyon School. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker, contributing photographer)

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CHATSWORTH — Sierra Canyon girls basketball remains consistent and is heading to its third CIF Southern Section Open Division championship game in as many years.

The Trailblazers beat Mater Dei 81-61 on Saturday night in a matchup that pitted the Mission League champion and the Trinity League champion against each other.

“It’s great just playing with this team,” Trailblazers senior and McDonald’s All-American Mackenly Randolph said. “This is our last year, so we’re trying to go all the way.”

Sierra Canyon is seeking back-to-back Open Division titles and will play Etiwanda in the championship game on Friday, Feb. 23, at Cal Baptist University. Etiwanda beat the Trailblazers in the finals in 2022.

“In years past, I would say it doesn’t matter (who we play),” Sierra Canyon coach Alicia Komaki said. “But we’ve clearly built ourselves into a rivalry.”

Randolph scored a game-high 28 points for Sierra Canyon and Jerzy Robinson wasn’t far behind with 21 points. Izela Arenas went on to score 14 points after not getting a single basket in the first quarter.

Mater Dei’s Chasity Rice had 16 points, Janessa Cotton had 14 points and Amaya Williams chipped in 13 points.

Sierra Canyon saw its early lead slip away midway through the first quarter when Williams made a mid-range jumper and followed up with a 3-pointer to give Mater Dei a 10-8 lead.

The Trailblazers were able to tie the game twice more in the final three minutes of the period, but Mater Dei went on a five-point scoring run for a 17-12 advantage at the end of the first quarter.

Arenas hit a corner 3-pointer within the first two minutes of the second frame and followed up with another 3 and a layup near the six-minute mark to tie the game at 21-all.

A midrange jumper from Robinson put the Trailblazers back in the lead.

“She’s one of the best scorers in the country,” Komaki said of Arenas. “There’s never a conversation with our kids like, ‘OK you’ve gotta do this.’ We’ve just gotta let them play.”

The Trailblazers snagged defensive rebounds to limit Mater Dei’s second-chance opportunities as the offense slowly came to life after an opening quarter in which the shots weren’t falling. Arenas scored eight points in the second to help power Sierra Canyon to a 37-28 advantage at halftime.

The rebounds slowed for Sierra Canyon in the third quarter, but the Trailblazers pressured and boxed out Mater Dei enough to limit the scoring. Meanwhile, the Trailblazers took off on a 7-0 scoring run in which Robinson dribbled in for a layup and a 43-32 lead.

Rice sank a 3-pointer for the Monarchs with under two minutes in the quarter, but Sierra Canyon hit four 3-pointers in the final eight minutes of the game to walk away with the win.

“They switched up their defense and went into zone,” Randolph said. “We’ve been playing against zone all year, so we gotta get it inside and get out out and find our shooters.”

Sierra Canyon beat Orangewood Academy and Sage Hill prior to the win over Mater Dei.

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