Sierra Canyon girls basketball beats Ontario Christian to secure spot in Open Division regional final

Sierra Canyon’s Jerzy Robinson reacts after defeating Ontario Christian in the Open Division regional semifinals March 2, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Sierra Canyon’s Jerzy Robinson puts up a shot against Ontario Christian in the Open Division regional semifinals March 2, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Ontario Christian’s Kaleena Smith controls the ball against Sierra canyon in the Open Division regional semifinals March 2, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Sierra Canyon’s Jerzy Robinson drives to the hoop as they host Ontario Christian in the Open Division regional semifinals March 2, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Sierra Canyon’s Jerzy Robinson reacts after defeating Ontario Christian in the Open Division regional semifinals March 2, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Sierra Canyon defeats Ontario Christian in the Open Division regional semifinals March 2, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Sierra Canyon’s Mackenly Randolph grabs a rebound against Ontario Christian in the Open Division regional semifinals March 2, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Ontario Christian’s Kaleena Smith controls the ball against Sierra canyon in the Open Division regional semifinals March 2, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Sierra Canyon’s Mackenly Randolph puts up a shot against Ontario Christian in the Open Division regional semifinals March 2, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Sierra Canyon’s Emilia Krstevski looks for the hoop against Ontario Christian in the Open Division regional semifinals March 2, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Ontario Christian’s Kaleena Smith drives to the hoop against Sierra canyon in the Open Division regional semifinals March 2, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Sierra Canyon’s Jerzy Robinson against Ontario Christian in the Open Division regional semifinals March 2, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Ontario Christian’s Dejah Saldivar defends Sierra Canyon’s Izela Arenas during the Open Division regional semifinals March 2, 2024.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

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CHATSWORTH — Sierra Canyon girls basketball dug itself out of an eight-point deficit at the end of the first quarter on Saturday night to beat Ontario Christian, 76-69, in front of a standing-room-only crowd and secure a spot in the Open Division final of the CIF Southern California Regional playoffs.

The Trailblazers’ win set up a rematch with Etiwanda on Tuesday, March 5. The game will be at Etiwanda at 7 p.m.

Etiwanda defeated Sierra Canyon in the CIF-Southern Section Open Division championship.

“We just want to win,” Sierra Canyon coach Alicia Komaki said. “This is our seventh regional final in the last 12 seasons. We don’t just expect to get there, we want to win it.”

Sophomore Jerzy Robinson scored 29 points for the Trailblazers and Mackenly Randolph added 19 points. Izela Arenas chipped in 17 points.

The Knights’ hot shooting and comfort around the perimeter got them ahead early in the game. Amanda Ajobiewe, who scored 14 points, made a 3-pointer with 4:30 left in the opening quarter as part of a 5-0 scoring run.

Freshman Kaleena Smith made eight 3-pointers across four quarters to finish with a game-high 35 points for Ontario Christian (28-5).

Costly turnovers hurt the Trailblazers (31-2), including one that led to an Ajobiewe layup and a 17-11 lead in Ontario Christian’s favor.

Smith sent her team’s energy through the roof and earned them a 23-15 advantage when she heaved the ball for a buzzer-beating, half-court shot at the end of the first quarter.

Sierra Canyon made seven free throws in the second quarter to stay in the game. Randolph was also an asset, scoring 11 points in the first half and fighting through defenders to make some difficult shots.

“It was one of those moments where you’re a senior and this could be your last game,” Komaki said. “Mac’s been locked in all playoffs, so it’s not a surprise. She’s our heartbeat. She’s our leader and I’m not surprised she stepped up in a big game.”

The Trailblazers were up 30-29 by halftime.

“I think just taking a deep breath (helped),” Robinson said. “We worked hard and we prepared for this and we were really excited. That comes with a little bit of turnovers, a little bit of nerves.”

Izela Arenas came alive in the second half to score 13 points and Robinson made shots at the right moments. The sophomore hit a turnaround jumper in the third quarter to pull Sierra Canyon ahead 47-46.

Smith made a 3-pointer from near the volleyball line to force the lead to change hands once more, but Ontario Christian wasn’t able to sustain it. The freshman remained a force until the final buzzer as the Knights switched to a half-court press in a final push for a win.

Ontario Christian’s Kaleena Smith is shooting lights out. In addition to her half court shot, she’s made two from nearly the volleyball line. pic.twitter.com/xNv8om4ztt

— Haley Sawyer (@haleymsawyer) March 3, 2024

“On our scouting report, it said expect her to score 30,” Komaki said. “I was a little disappointed that we let her get a little more loose sometimes, but we expected that. Really the goal was that we didn’t want anybody else to beat us.”

Arenas sank a 3-pointer and made her shot on an and-one opportunity that followed to bring the score to 69-62 with four minutes left to get the regional championship in sight.

“We’ve been blessed with another opportunity,” Robinson said. “Every day in practice, that’s our motivation, to get another opportunity.”

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