How would a banner look in Sierra Canyon’s gym, she was asked?
Half an hour before the Trailblazers’ Southern Section Division 1 final against Mira Costa, the normally stoic Stefanie Wigfall broke into a wide grin.
“Really, really, really, really nice,” she answered.
It’s no secret how badly the Trailblazers have wanted this, all season. How badly they’ve been wanting to reach the top in a Gold Coast League with lesser competition that doomed their division seeding come playoff time. They moved into the Mission League, and with a fury, knocked off Marymount in the last round of pool play.
And yet, despite a 33-4 record, they’ve been consistently ranked behind a dominant Mira Costa team all season. So there was one hurdle left to clear.
“We want to be thought of in that Power 5, Power 6,” Wigfall said, referring to the mainstay top programs in the Southern Section, “of the Mater Deis, Marymounts, Mira Costas.”
The Sierra Canyon girls’ basketball team knows a thing or two about building a dynasty — and at Cerritos College, they were there in full force, Juju Watkins and MacKenly Randolph hollering and gleefully waving blue-and-white pom-poms at every Trailblazers kill.
And Saturday night, a new Trailblazers girls’ program ascended to the top of the Southern Section hierarchy, squashing Mira Costa rallies at every turn in a gritty 3-0 win (28-26, 25-23, 25-23).
A big part of the game plan for Mira Costa coach Cam Green was accounting for Trailblazers 6-foot-4 outside dynamo Olivia Babcock. After acknowledging they “couldn’t stop her” in a match at an early season tournament in Hawaii, Green simply acquiesced that the Mustangs would have to keep their composure as Babcock got her points.
“She bounces one, and everyone goes nuts,” Green said, “that’s OK.”
Except she bounced more than a few, the home crowd gaining momentum with every leap and spike from the Pittsburgh commit’s powerful arm. With the Mustangs matching the Traiblazers point for point late in the first set, Babcock went up for a swing and was blocked — except, the ball still hanging in the air, she somehow touched hardwood and went up again, second-jumping for another spike.
“She’s really fun to play with,” junior Danica Rach, a Boston College commit, said before the season.
“I feel like our level skyrockets when I’m next to her.”
Babcock finished off the first set with a tip to a dead area that seemed a halfhearted attempt to just get the ball over the net, then dominated the second, notching another improbable second-jump kill.
“You can’t guard her!” the Sierra Canyon girls’ basketball team hollered in the third set.