By Jon D. Gaede –
Led by senior guard Janae Sharpe (23 points), the Rialto Lady Knights girls team accomplished something that no Rialto High School basketball team has before, a coveted CIF Championship, 55-53.
Rialto earned the No. 1 seed in the CIF Southern Section 2AA Division. The 30-3 Lady Knights disposed of Santa Margarita, Norco, and Inglewood to reach the CIF final. They drew Buena High School of Ventura on Saturday night for the title.
The girls from Buena were taller at forward and center, but Rialto’s up tempo game exposed a weakness in their defense. Aggressive play from Brittani Walker and Janae Sharpe put the Lady Knights up 14-8 and left the Buena Bulldogs blinded by Rialto’s team speed.
The game remained close when Rialto’s Janae Sharpe (Northridge) decided to will her team on. Sharp, who averages 24 points per game is the ultimate play-maker. Like another coach on the floor, she handles the ball well, makes good decisions and is fearless.
Trailing 50-46, late into the fourth quarter, the Lady Knights needed something special. Summer Webb (18 points) made a long three point shot to tie the game at 49. The back and fourth final minute was punctuated by another Janae Sharpe steal and a poetic coast to coast lay-up to break a 53-53 tie.
Sharp’s basket, as time ran out, put the Lady Knights up by two, securing their first CIF title 55-53.
By virtue of their victory, the Rialto Lady Knights will host the next round of the State playoffs at home on Thursday night.
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