Etiwanda basketball takes down Sierra Canyon to advance to Open Division regional final

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CHATSWORTH – Coming into the regional semifinal, Etiwanda was carrying a five-game losing streak to Sierra Canyon dating back to 2018. Four of those losses coming in the postseason, including last season’s dramatic regional final.

The Eagles finally got over the hump, taking down the Trailblazers 82-76 to advance to the CIF State Open Division SoCal Regional final at Torrey Pines High Saturday night. Torrey Pines defeated Damien 63-42.

Jahmai Mashack and Marcus Green each scored 20 points for Etiwanda. Sierra Canyon’s Amari Bailey scored 37 and senior Ryan Grande added 13 points in front of rap artist Drake and actor Michael B. Jordan, who sat court side.

As the final buzzer sounded Thursday night, Etiwanda coach David Kleckner reached for a water bottle and took a sip as he watched his team celebrate, and took in the victory.

“It feels good,” Kleckner said of the win. “I think the last time we beat (Sierra Canyon) was when they had Remy Martin. We say it all the time, to be the best, you have to beat the best.”

Kleckner’s memory is pretty good. Etiwanda beat Sierra Canyon on February 25, 2015. Remy Martin was a sophomore.

Etiwanda (13-2) used an 11-0 run late in the fourth quarter to balloon its lead to 76-65 with 2:31 to play. Sierra Canyon ran out of gas.

“We really wanted this one,” Green said. “We’ve been wanting this for years.”

Sierra Canyon was without starting forward Shy Odom for the second half after re-injuring his already banged up knee. Without Odom, Etiwanda took advantage of Sierra Canyon’s lack of size. Football player Jojo Phillips, a 6-foot-4 guard, and 6-foot-7 freshman Malik Rasul tried to fill the void on the glass, but the physicality of Quinten Webb, Darvelle Wyatt and Tennessee-bound Mashack was too much to handle.

“When you play good teams, like ones we’ve played this postseason…Ribet Academy, St. John Bosco, you have to rebound or you lose,” Kleckner said. “It’s something we’ve been doing all year long.”

Sierra Canyon ends the year 16-2, losing two of its last three, including the CIF Southern Section Open Division final to Corona Centennial. The Trailblazers were without 7-foot-3 Harold Yu, and lost juniors Max Allen (left the school) and Chance Westry (personal reasons) this spring.

It will be the first time since the 2016-17 season the Trailblazers have not won a sectional, regional or state title.

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