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Roundup: Crystal Wang leads Sierra Canyon girls basketball to victory without Juju Watkins

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STUDIO CITY — No Juju Watkins. No problem.

The Sierra Canyon girls basketball team introduced itself to the Mission League with a 70-50 win at Harvard-Westlake in a league opener for both teams Tuesday night. It was the Trailblazers’ debut game in the Mission League since leaving the Gold Coast League last season.

The Trailblazers, who moved to 13-0, were without Watkins, the nation’s No. 1 recruit headed to USC, due to ankle soreness. Watkins is expected to play against Chaminade (Thursday, 6 p.m.) and La Jolla Country Day (Saturday, 6:30 p.m.) at USC’s Galen Center.

Sierra Canyon’s injured JuJu Watkins helps with rebounding before their game with Harvard-Westlake Tuesday, January 3, 2022. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Harvard-Westlake’s Valentina Guerrero, #34, comes up with a rebound against Sierra Canyon defenders Alissa Evangelista, #13, Kayla Malek, #32, and Emilia Krstevski, #1, during third period action in their league opener at Harvard-Westlake Tuesday, January 3, 2022. Sierra Canyon defeated Harvard-Westlake 70-50. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Sierra Canyon’s Leia Edwards, #33, loses control of the ball as Harvard-Westlake’s Madison Mcdonald, #2, defends on the play during fourth period action in their league opener at Harvard-Westlake Tuesday, January 3, 2022. Sierra Canyon defeated Harvard-Westlake 70-50. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Sierra Canyon’s Izela Arenas, #14, goes up for two points as Harvard-Westlake’s Jordyn Call, #22, defends on the play during first period action in their league opener at Harvard-Westlake Tuesday, January 3, 2022. Sierra Canyon defeated Harvard-Westlake 70-50. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Harvard-Westlake’s Bella Spencer, #24, passes under Sierra Canyon defenders Mackenly Randolph, #4, and Crystal Wang, #31, during third period action in their league opener at Harvard-Westlake Tuesday, January 3, 2022. Sierra Canyon defeated Harvard-Westlake 70-50. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Harvard-Westlake’s Deana Thompson, #11, and Sierra Canyon’s Sabrina De Leon, #11, and Izela Arenas, #14, go for a rebound during first period action in their league opener at Harvard-Westlake Tuesday, January 3, 2022. Sierra Canyon defeated Harvard-Westlake 70-50. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Harvard-Westlake’s Jamie Yue, #3, and Bella Spencer, #24, try to keep a rebound from the hands of Sierra Canyon’s Kayla Malek, #32, during third period action in their league opener at Harvard-Westlake Tuesday, January 3, 2022. Sierra Canyon defeated Harvard-Westlake 70-50. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Harvard-Westlake’s Jamie Yue, #3, tries to get control of a loose ball from Sierra Canyon’s Christy Reynoso, #0, during third period action in their league opener at Harvard-Westlake Tuesday, January 3, 2022. Sierra Canyon defeated Harvard-Westlake 70-50. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Sierra Canyon’s Kayla Malek, #32, drives down court as Harvard-Westlake’s Jamie Yue, #3, defends on the play during second period action in their league opener at Harvard-Westlake Tuesday, January 3, 2022. Sierra Canyon defeated Harvard-Westlake 70-50. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Sierra Canyon’s Mackenly Randolph, #4, goes after a loose ball during first period action in their league opener against Harvard-Westlake at Harvard-Westlake Tuesday, January 3, 2022. Sierra Canyon defeated Harvard-Westlake 70-50. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Sierra Canyon’s Leia Edwards, #33, is fouled by Harvard-Westlake’s Valentina Guerrero, #34, and Deana Thompson, #11, during second period action in their league opener at Harvard-Westlake Tuesday, January 3, 2022. Sierra Canyon defeated Harvard-Westlake 70-50. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Harvard-Westlake’s Jamie Yue, 33, and Valentina Guerrero, #34, and Sierra Canyon’s Emilia Krstevski, #1, go after a rebound during first period action in their league opener at Harvard-Westlake Tuesday, January 3, 2022. Sierra Canyon defeated Harvard-Westlake 70-50. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Harvard-Westlake’s Jamie Yue, #3, tries to keep the ball from Sierra Canyon’s Christy Reynoso, #0, during first period action in their league opener at Harvard-Westlake Tuesday, January 3, 2022. Sierra Canyon defeated Harvard-Westlake 70-50. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Harvard-Westlake’s Bella Spencer, #24, tries to get the ball to Jamie Yue, #3, as Sierra Canyon’s Kayla Malek, #32, defends on the play during third period action in their league opener at Harvard-Westlake Tuesday, January 3, 2022. Sierra Canyon defeated Harvard-Westlake 70-50. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Sierra Canyon’s Crystal Wang, #31, shoots for two points as Harvard-Westlake’s Jamie Yue, #3, and Jordyn Call, #22, defend on the play during second period action in their league opener at Harvard-Westlake Tuesday, January 3, 2022. Sierra Canyon defeated Harvard-Westlake 70-50. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Sierra Canyon’s Leia Edwards, 33, drives the ball downcourt as Harvard-Westlake’s Bella Spencer, #24, defends on the play during first period action in their league opener at Harvard-Westlake Tuesday, January 3, 2022. Sierra Canyon defeated Harvard-Westlake 70-50. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

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Northwestern-bound senior wing Crystal Wang picked up the slack in Watkins’ absence by scoring 17 of her 21 points in the first half.

“It didn’t even cross my mind to really score more. It just happened,” Wang said laughing.

Junior point guard Izela Arenas, the daughter of former NBA point guard Gilbert Arenas, added 20 points and freshman center Emilia Krstevski had nine points and 11 rebounds. Arena’s scoreline had more intention.

“As the point guard I think I needed to help Crystal get going, but I also looked for my own shot, too, which I like doing,” Arenas said with a grin.

Harvard-Westlake trailed 22-16 at the end of the first quarter, but a Sierra Canyon 17-3 run in the second quarter, anchored by Wang and Arenas, created a 41-26 halftime lead that Harvard-Westlake (12-6) couldn’t overcome in the final two frames.

Izela Arenas, daughter of Gilbert Arenas, with a really nice pass to Crystal Wang for the bucket. Sierra Canyon taking control of the game, leading Harvard-Westlake 35-24 with 2:28 left to play in the opening half. pic.twitter.com/ZAP7eGnifW

— Tarek Fattal (@Tarek_Fattal) January 4, 2023

Jordyn Call, the lone senior for Harvard-Westlake (12-6), scored 12 points, all coming on 3-pointers. Freshman center Valentina Guerrero led Harvard-Westlake with 16 points.

Watkins’ stardom has been a large reason why the Trailblazers are ranked No. 1 in the country while they have traveled across the country to play games in Texas, Utah, Nevada and Portland.

“The travel has been challenging,” Arenas said. “It’s hard to balance basketball, academics and all the flying. It’s nonstop.”

Sierra Canyon and Etiwanda (13-0) are expected to see each other in the CIF Southern Section Open Division final for a repeat of last year’s championship game. Etiwanda won the matchup last February 69-57 before Sierra Canyon avenged the loss with a 60-51 win over the Eagles a week later in the CIF State SoCal Regional final.

The Trailblazers went on to win the CIF State Open Division title with an 85-61 win over Archbishop Mitty of San Jose.

“We want to win everything we can — Southern Section, state title and maybe even do enough to be national champions,” Wang said.

In other Mission League action, Chaminade defeated Notre Dame 42-32 thanks to Hunter Hudson’s 14 points.

Oaks Christian defeated Newbury Park 52-23 thanks to Omamoke Okah’s 16 points. First-year head coach Keani Albanez earned a win in her Marmonte League debut.

Trinity Classical Academy 50, Cleveland 40: Lilly Caddow led the Knights with 15 points and five rebounds.

BOYS BASKETBALL

FOOTHILL LEAGUE

West Ranch 74, Hart 49: Jazz Gardner scored 18 points and Andrew Meadow had 13 for the Wildcats, who won their 28th straight Foothill League game.

Canyon 57, Castaic 53: Lincoln Phillips led the Cowboys with 22 points and seven assists.

Valencia 77, Golden Valley 63: Kai Davis, Mikah Ballew and Bryce Bedgood each scored 21 points for the Vikings.

GOLD COAST LEAGUE

Brentwood 91, Viewpoint 49: Lawson Holland had 18 points and Aeneas Grullon scored 12 for Viewpoint.

MARMONTE LEAGUE

Thousand Oaks 51, Calabasas 48: Trent MacLean led the Lancers with 16 points. Gavin Murphy scored 21 for Calabasas.

Oaks Christian 54, Newbury Park 47: Stevie Amar had 13 points and Brett Johnson added 11 to anchor the Lions’ win. Charlie Muir had 15 points and Cooper Lucas added 13 for Newbury Park.

Agoura 56, Westlake 54: Nasir Meyer had 23 points for the Chargers. Kayden Elsokary led Westlake with 23 points.

OLYMPIC LEAGUE

Heritage Christian 79, Valley Christian 58: Sophomore Tae Simmons led Heritage Christian with 23 points. Giovanni Goree had 15 and Seven Bahati added 13.

Village Christian 75, Maranatha 46: Immanuel Taylor led Village Christian with 13 points, seven steals and seven assists.

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NONLEAGUE

Notre Dame 89, St. Monica 44: Mercy Miller led the Knights with 28 points, Dusty Stromer had 22 and Caleb Foster added 21.

Chatsworth 78, University 65: Alija Arenas tallied 40 points and 11 rebounds for the Chancellors.

Crescenta Valley 64, Burroughs 53: Mikail Grigoryan tallied 23 points for CV.

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