Helix junior Briajunae Shepard (shown in a game earlier this season) scored 20 points in the Highlanders' championship win over San Marcos on Saturday.
The first half was anyone’s game.
The second half belonged to Helix High’s Briajunae Shepard.
The junior scored 14 of her game-high 20 points after the break, eight in the third quarter when the Highlanders took control of a one-point game to beat San Marcos 57-45 in the San Diego Section Division II girls basketball championship game Saturday at USD’s Jenny Craig Pavilion.
“I had to take charge,” said Shepard, who helped win a title in 2012 at Mission Bay. “Our first half wasn’t good. So it was up to me to push harder.”
The third-seeded Highlanders (27-7) led 26-24 at the half and it was a one-point Helix lead at 35-34 with 2:38 to play in the third quarter.
But five Shepard points down the stretch had the margin to seven at the end of the quarter.
Five straight Shepard points early in the fourth period put Helix up by 14.
“Briajunae has been here before,” said Helix coach Patrick Tabor. “She won a championship before so she knows what it takes. She was born a leader.”
Irma Ealy had a game-high 15 rebounds for Helix, which outrebounded No. 5 San Marcos (22-9) 63-48.
“Their height didn’t bother me,” Ealy said of San Marcos’ trio of 6-foot-1 girls. “I look at it as a challenge I need to overcome.
“Rebounding is really all about determination.”
San Marcos was led by Brenna Clark, who overcame a wicked elbow to the chops to score 15.