Santiago's Shiana Carrington, left, guards Etiwanda's McKynzie… (Steve Galluzzo / For The…)
With the CIF championship riding on every dribble, Ashleigh Sparks knew precisely what to do in the closing moments of Friday night's Southern Section Division 1A final.
The 5-5 senior guard caught the inbounds pass, broke to the sideline, drove the length of the court and made a layup as time expired to lift Moreno Valley Canyon Springs to a 48-46 victory over La Puente Bishop Amat at the Anaheim Convention Center.
Cheyenne Greenhouse had 24 points and eight rebounds and sank a free throw to give the second-seeded Cougars (20-9) a 46-45 lead with 28 seconds left. On the Lancers' possession, forward Mauriana Clayton was fouled with 4.9 seconds left and made the second of two foul shots to tie the score and set the stage for Sparks' winning play.
"No matter what happened [on the free throw], our coach wanted us to push the ball up the floor and score the basket, so that's all I was thinking about," Sparks said. "I was well-defended as I got to the key, but I gave a little stutter step, leaned in and put it up."
The ball danced around the rim before dropping through as the buzzer sounded, setting off a wild celebration at the Canyon Springs bench. It marked the Cougars' first trip to the section finals since 2009, when they lost the 1A final to Ontario Colony, and their first CIF title since they won the same division in 2005.
Paulina Santana scored 20 points and Clayton added 13 points and 16 rebounds for the Lancers (24-9).
Corona Santiago 70, Etiwanda 65: Jada Williams made two free throws with 2.8 seconds left to clinch the 1AA championship for the third-seeded Sharks (29-2).
Chrishae Rowe scored 25 points, Shiana Carrington had 20 and Paris Jones added eight for Santiago, who led, 63-56, with 1:22 left before surviving a furious Etiwanda comeback in the final moments.
Cherice Harris missed a potential game-tying three-pointer with six seconds remaining and Gaby Johnson missed the putback attempt. The Eagles (28-3) fouled Williams intentionally and she made both shots.
Amy Okonkwo had 14 points and 12 rebounds, McKynzie Fort had 13 points and Alyssa Anderson added 11 for Etiwanda, which stunned previously undefeated Mater Dei, 73-72, in the semifinals.
Lynwood 61, Riverside North 51: Priscilla Lopez had 15 points and Alize Lofton added 14, including a layup with 46 seconds left to clinch the win for the third-seeded Knights (24-5), who built a 32-13 halftime lead and withstood a North comeback to win their second straight 2AA title and ninth section title in 12 finals trips under Coach Ellis Barfield.
Priscilla Brooks had 18 points and 17 rebounds for the fourth-seeded Huskies (21-6). Simone DeCoud added 11 points, including the basket that pulled North to within 54-51 with 1:49 left.
Murrieta Valley 49, Culver City 37: DeShea Wilkes had 10 points and 12 rebounds, Ariana Hernandez had 10 points and Karen Wolf had eight points and 10 rebounds as the second-seeded Nighthawks (26-5) won the 2A title game. Kelsey Ueda had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the fourth-seeded Centaurs (24-6).