When it comes to girls' basketball, all signs point toward Saturday's CIF Southern California Open Division championship game between Los Angeles Windward (31-0) and Santa Ana Mater Dei (30-1) as being the game of the year.
The 6 p.m. showdown is one of six regional championship games — boys and girls — to be played at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario. Another five games will be played at Ontario Colony High for Divisions III, IV and V. The winners advance to state championship games next weekend in Sacramento.
"People have been talking about this game for a long time," Windward Coach Vanessa Nygaard said. "I'm so proud of the girls making it to this point. We're excited to play."
This is also the game for top three-point shooters. Windward's USC-bound Courtney Jaco has made 402 three-pointers in her career and 136 this season. Mater Dei's Stanford-bound Karlie Samuelson made nine three-pointers in a semifinal win over Corona Santiago.
Windward defeated Mater Dei in a nonleague game last season. Mater Dei went on to win the state Division I championship; Windward was upset by Gardena Serra in the 4AA finals.
"They're very talented and have outstanding shooters," Nygaard said. "Hopefully, we can play good defense."
Windward has the No. 1 junior point guard in Jordin Canada.
The 8 p.m. Open Division boys' final is just as compelling, with a rematch of the Southern Section 1AA championship game between Etiwanda (28-2) and Mater Dei (32-2).
Etiwanda's stifling defense caused big problems for Mater Dei in a 54-51 1AA victory, but the Monarchs are extremely motivated and were looking forward to playing the Eagles moments after their semifinal win over Long Beach Poly.
In the Division I final at 4 p.m., Los Angeles Loyola (25-7) and Santa Monica (28-6) will be playing for the third time this season. Loyola won two close nonleague games.