ONTARIO — Cristy Scarson wasn’t about to let North County Christian’s chance at history slip away.
The sophomore guard scored 11 of her team-high 19 points in the final quarter to put the Crusaders back in control en route to a 47-33 victory over Calvary Baptist in Friday’s CIF-Southern Section Division 6A final at Colony High, clinching the school’s first division championship in any sport.
“It’s crazy,” said sophomore Brianna Feld. “It feels so good to do this. We pulled together and did it.”
The win that seemed all but certain when top-seeded North County Christian (19-5) held an 18-point lead at halftime wasn’t such a sure thing anymore by the fourth quarter. Third-seeded Calvary Baptist outscored the Crusaders 20-6 in the third quarter and cut the lead to three early in the fourth quarter.
Scarson responded with eight consecutive points, putting North County Christian’s lead back into double figures for good.
“Something just changed,” Scarson said. “I just got this drive. We worked so hard to be here. This was our chance. . . .“I feel like that’s my role, lifting up and energizing the other players.”
There was plenty of energy as the Crusaders celebrated their long-awaited title.
“It feels so great to play to our potential and succeed at what we set out to do,” North Country Christian coach Alan Scarson said.
Among those contributing to the Crusaders’ success Friday was Feld, a 5-foot-11 post player who provided a considerable height advantage against a Calvary Baptist lineup that started just one player taller than 5-6. Feld scored 11 points with nine rebounds, five steals and four of North County Christian’s nine blocks.
“They hit the boards like crazy and their height gave us trouble at times,” Calvary Baptist coach Lincoln Dial said.
Anna Foster added a game-high 18 rebounds and six points. Teammate Kelsey Paulus had 16 rebounds and nine points.
North County Christian overcame cold shooting early — 16 percent from the field in the first quarter — thanks to an even colder Calvary Baptist offense.
The Cougars (19-8) made just two of 41 shots from the field in the first half, giving North County a 24-6 halftime lead.
The Crusaders scored the first seven points of the game, taking advantage of what Calvary Baptist described as a case of big-game jitters for a team starting three freshmen and a sophomore. North County Christian opened the second quarter with a 10-0 run, holding the Cougars scoreless until a free throw more than five minutes into the period.
“We started off shaky,” Dial said. “It was a big stage to start off with us. Once we calmed down, I was very proud of their effort.”
Calvary Baptist opened the second half with its first back-to-back points and never let up.
Freshman Allison Dial fueled the Cougars’ second-half surge. After not taking a shot in the first half, she scored 16 points in the third quarter and finished tied for the game’s scoring lead with 19 points.
“Once we started hitting our shots and getting back up, it gave us more confidence and helped us,” she said.
The Crusaders said they were never worried, although they could see the momentum shifting.
“I called together all the girls and told them it’s your game to win or lose,” Alan Scarson said.
The win is North County Christian’s 15th in a row and sends the Crusaders into next week’s state playoffs having won each of its playoff games by at least 14 points.
“The girls worked really hard this year to get to this point,” Alan Scarson said.