With the game, the season and community pride hanging in the balance in the fourth quarter, “Khiya Mohamed stepped up like a senior captain should,” Imperial coach Rich Ponchione said.
The Tigers trailed Bonita Vista by a point midway through the fourth quarter when Mohamed scored eight of the next nine points as Imperial took control of the game, beating the Barons 62-54 to capture the San Diego Section Division II girls basketball championship Saturday at USD’s Jenny Craig Pavilion.
These teams played a month ago with Bonita winning 70-68 in overtime.
“Down the stretch I had to push inside, attack the basket,” said Mohamed, who is headed to Cal State Northridge on a basketball and track scholarship. “I had to be there for my team.”
Mohamed and Ponchione described the top-seeded Tigers (28-3) as a tight-knit group that has been playing together since seventh grade.
“This team has such great chemistry,” said the 5-foot-10 Mohamed. “The friendships we’ve created will stay with me forever.
“Emotions and adrenaline carried us to the win.”
Trailing 50-49 with 4:15 to play, Mohamed made four baskets and had four defensive rebounds, giving the Tigers a 59-50 lead with 45 seconds to play.
Mohamed finished the game with 33 points, 14 rebounds and four blocked shots.
Jazleigh Ortiz added 12 points for Imperial, while Camryn Seaman had 11 rebounds and Karen Hogue finished with 10 assists.
Carol Schroeder had a double-double for second-seeded Bonita Vista (19-10), scoring 23 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Shayla LaTone added 15 points.
Imperial outrebounded Bonita Vista 49-33.
“We had an unbelievable season,” said Ponchione. “I’ve had these girls since the seventh grade and I told them if they dedicated themselves, if they really wanted it, something like this was possible.
“We’re a school of 1,100 students, a Division IV team, so to beat El Camino, Olympian, Rancho Bernardo and now a great Bonita Vista team means the world to our girls.
“And to win it in this great facility, in our first trip to the finals, before all our fans who made the drive over, means so much to our community.”