As Archbishop Mitty, at long last healthy, ascended to the top of girls basketball in the northern half of the state with one blowout victory after another, the last matchup in the journey seemed preordained.
But even certainties have off nights.
Mitty did its part, rolling through two overmatched opponents in the regionals after shredding four others in the sectionals. Sierra Canyon-Chatsworth fell short, the Trailblazers’ bid for an undefeated season and a third Open Division state championship since 2019 going up in flames just as Mitty posed for a team picture Tuesday night to commemorate its regional title.
Instead of a rematch against Sierra Canyon, the school that routed Mitty in last year’s state Open final, the San Jose powerhouse will face Etiwanda for the title on Saturday night at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.
Instead of Mitty’s McKenna Woliczko and Morgan Cheli vs. Sierra Canyon superstar Juju Watkins, it’ll be Cheli and Woliczko against Etiwanda’s Kennedy Smith and Aliyahna Morris.
Mitty freshman McKenna Woliczko shoots a free throw earlier this season. (Joseph Dycus/Bay Area News Group)
Etiwanda ended the USC-bound Watkins’ illustrious high school career, winning on Sierra Canyon’s home court 55-54 in the Southern California Open final, the triumph coming less than two weeks after Sierra Canyon beat Etiwanda 70-57 in a sectional final.
For Etiwanda, the reversal of fortunes was poetic justice.
Last season, Etiwanda went into the SoCal Open final with a perfect record and had beaten Sierra Canyon 69-57 in a section final. Sierra Canyon won the rematch 60-51 and then cruised past Mitty 85-61 in the state final.
Mitty coach Sue Phillips doesn’t have to be reminded that Tuesday’s outcome in Southern California will not change the challenge her team faces as it aims for its first Open state title and seventh state championship overall.
“You’re trading out the No. 1 ranked team in the country to what? The No. 3 ranked team in the country? We’re splitting hairs in terms of the difficult task at hand,” Phillips said. “They have something to prove. That was a team that was undefeated going into the SoCal finals last year and Sierra Canyon got ’em. This was a team that returned everybody.
“You’re talking about a goliath that is coming into Golden 1 Center out of Etiwanda, just incredibly solid at all five positions, really, really sound defensively and yet they’re super explosive offensively. This is how it’s supposed to be. It’s supposed to be …read more
Source:: The Mercury News