Etiwanda girls’ basketball team rallies in second half to claim first CIF title, 69-57 | Sports

Feb. 26 was a special occasion at Etiwanda High School.

The undefeated girls’ varsity basketball team acquired its first CIF Southern Section title, pulling off a stirring rally in the second half for a 69-57 victory over Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth in front of a packed crowd of about 1,000 at the Eagles’ gym.

Etiwanda, seeded No. 1 in the Open Division tournament and ranked No. 2 in the nation by MaxPreps, raised its record to 28-0 and will now get ready for the state playoffs.

Sierra Canyon, the No. 2 seed in the CIF, was led by the No. 1 high school recruit in the nation, JuJu Watkins, and moved out to a 33-21 lead at halftime.

But Watkins fouled out in the fourth quarter, and the Eagles stormed back behind sophomore star Kennedy Smith, who finished with 19 points.

“We were down, but we didn’t give up,” said Etiwanda coach Stan DeLus, whose team had rarely been challenged during the season.

With 3:32 left, Sierra Canyon led, 53-50. Watkins drove to the basket, ran over an Etiwanda defender and was called for an offensive foul, removing her from the game.

Sa’lah Hemingway of Etiwanda made a three-point basket to tie the score at 55.  Destiny Agubata made a trey to give the Eagles a 59-55 lead, and Smith cashed in a layup to spark the surge to the victory.

On Feb. 27, Etiwanda learned it would have a bye in the first round of the Southern California regional playoffs and return to action on Saturday, March 5 with a home game against the winner of Centennial-Mission Hills.

If the Eagles win, they will host the regional final on March 8.

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