East County Sports

Peterson coronates Matadors’ Open title

2018 San Diego CIF Open Division Champion Mount Miguel Matadors



By Ramon Scott



SAN DIEGO – The Mount Miguel Matadors have had two decades of championship success under coach ROBBIE SANDOVAL, but the program finally arrived at the top of the San Diego County girls elite list Friday night at Viejas Arena.

The fourth-seeded Matadors came back from a 13-point deficit in the third quarter to get past four-time defending Open Division champion Mission Hills, 50-49, to win their seventh CIF title and first in the section’s top-flight grouping.

Mount Miguel’s SYLENA PETERSON puts up a shot against Mission Hills at Viejas Arena on Friday night. / Photo by Don De Mars Photography

Already destined for career greatness, incredible freshman SYLENA PETERSON had ice in her veins, literally, in the fourth quarter for Mount Miguel (30-1).

“Sylena was so exhausted she was ready to faint,” Sandoval said. “She played so hard.”

Despite missing some free throws in the final quarter, Peterson made three crucial field goals down the stretch, including a rebound and drive for two off her own miss with just over a minute-and-a-half to play that turned out to be a four-point play following a left-hand drive for a score that drew a foul just seconds earlier.

“I was trying to get the rebound and go up,” Peterson said. “I knew I had to go up strong and had to make it for my team.”

Peterson, who had a pair of three-pointers in the first half, also knocked down the decisive free throw following a Grizzlies’ foul with 12 seconds remaining.

“I was so scared, but I knew had to relax and put in at least one, which I did,” said the 5-foot-6 Peterson.

Peterson, who had 17 points, jokingly attributed her “coolness” to a body-healing ice bath the day before the championship contest.

After Mission Hills scored the last eight points of the first half, the Grizzlies opened the second half with 16-9 push.

That’s when the Matadors started their gradual comeback.

Mount Miguel senior CAM DOUGLAS puts up a shot against Mission Hills in the Open Division championship game. / photo by Don De Mars Photography

“In the fourth, we got some timely turnovers and we started to wear (Mission Hills) down,” Sandoval said. “I am proud of my team for playing with such poise.”

Mount Miguel’s 5-foot-11 senior star CAMARA DOUGLAS scored six of her 10 points in the third quarter. She also grabbed six rebounds in the contest.

“Cam played her tail off and scored when we needed it most,” Sandoval said. “She got very emotional at the end of the game.”

Matador junior MICHELLE CORLEY proved even more clutch in the championship final than her awesome performance in the semis.

Corley had 17 points, including a pair of three-pointers in the second half, and 11 points after halftime.

Peterson had eight points in the first half for The Mount, including a three-pointer which gave her team an 18-13 lead early in the second quarter. She also opened the scoring in the game with a three.

Great game way to go Mount Miguel

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Mission Hills ended up with two, maybe three shots at a game-winning basket, which the Matadors denied.

“We staggered on offense for a bit but we were relentless,” Sandoval said. “We had a big defensive game. Mission Hills had a few more rebounds, but we got the win.”

Mount Miguel players and head coach ROBBIE SANDOVAL celebrate after the final buzzer. / photo by Don De Mars Photography

Mount Miguel, which at one point had moved up to 45th in the nation before a loss to nationally-heralded La Jolla Country Day, was generally ranked second behind the Torreys the rest of the way.

In the end of the day, however, it was taking down Mission Hills, which had won five-straight section titles, including one in Division I, that would cement Mount Miguel as the new current creme of the county crop of the best high school girls basketball programs.

And they’ll already have a proven clutch superstar player leading them for another three years.

“My coach worked so hard to get us right here where we’re meant to be, right here CIF champions,” Peterson said. “I give credit to my teammates, they helped me to get here.”

Mount Miguel, which heads into the state playoffs with an eight-game winning streak, won D3 titles in ’07, ’10, ’11 and D2 titles in ’03, ’04, ’05.

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