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Girls Basketball wins CIF Championship

Girls Basketball Wins CIF Championship
Posted on 02/27/2019


AZUSA >> She watched her two older sisters win CIF-Southern Section championships, and Saturday, Londynn Jones got hers perhaps earlier than anyone expected.

She might get more, too

Just a freshman, Jones scored 29 points and led the fourth-seeded Sharks to 68-56 victory over Crossroads in the Division 3AA championship game at Azusa Pacific’s Felix Events Center.

Santiago won its first girls basketball title since 2013, when Londynn’s older sisters, Paris and Dalis, helped the Sharks to victory. Dalis also won a CIF-SS crown with Norco in 2016 and both are still playing college basketball at the Division I level — Paris at UC Santa Barbara and Dalis at Cal State Bakersfield.

“I really just look up to them,” said Londynn, who also scored a career-high 43 points in a semifinal win last week over top-seeded Brentwood, “and I’ve always watched and learned right from wrong.”

Apparently, she paid attention. With her ability to pop in and out of the key and alertly spread the ball around, she was “right” an awful lot Saturday morning. So were her teammates.

Sophomore forward Lauren Grover added a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds, and junior forward Alexis Alexander added 10 points in a 48-percent shooting performance from the field. The only losses for Santiago (20-8) this year have come against Big VIII League opponents.

“Our league, with Centennial, Roosevelt and King — they’ve prepared us for every aspect for every game,” Santiago coach Michael Mitchell said.

The Sharks took a 39-29 lead at halftime Saturday and answered every Crossroads challenge in the second half. The Roadrunners (17-12) made one charge toward the end of the thrid quarter, getting the deficit down to nine points, but senior guard Malia Shibata squashed it with a quarter-ending 3-pointer.

Junior forward/center Mimi O’Neal — Shaquille O’Neal’s daughter — led the Roadrunners with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Junior guard Mia LaFayette also had 15 points.

“Credit to Santiago, they’re a really good team; a strong team,” Crossroads coach Ryan Wilde said. “I thought they just made a few more plays than us.”

Led by two young standouts, Santiago’s future seems as a bright as any in the Big VIII, and maybe beyond. The Sharks will learn Sunday who their first-round, state-tournament opponent will be Tuesday.

“Hopefully, this puts us on the map and people are knocking on our door coming to Santiago,” Mitchell said, “instead of trying to go to those other schools.”

“This is really good,” Glover said. “I’m glad I have two more years to play.”


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