The Eagles of Chaminade Preparatory School have once again landed on top of the girls’ basketball world.

A thrilling 52-49 win over favored M.L. King on Feb. 23 gave Chaminade its fourth CIF-Southern Section championship in the last seven years, continuing a reign of excellence under coach Kelli Di Muro.

The Division 1 title — to go with Open Division crowns in 2015 and 2016, and a 3A championship in 2013 — wasn’t the easiest to come by. Chaminade lost a nine-point fourth quarter lead after having taken control in the second quarter, and trailed 49-48 in the final minute.

But junior Alexis Whitfield’s 24 points, including a go-ahead layup with eight seconds remaining, and two late Maiya Jackson free throws allowed the Eagles to prevail over a team that entered the game 29-1 (to Chaminade’s 21-10).

The Mission League champions from West Hills — who received solid performances from Leslie Hunter, Julinna Fletes and Jasmine Rodriguez — also accomplished the feat in “enemy” territory, with game played at Cal Baptist University in Riverside, less than 10 miles from the King campus. And it ended King’s 24-game winning streak.

In the CIF-SS Division 5A final, No. 6 Bishop Conaty-Loretto (20-13) ended its season with a 55-38 loss to No. 1 seed Bloomington Christian (26-2) on Feb. 23 at Colony High School in Ontario.

The Wildcats — runners-up for the second time in a CIF final, having lost to L.A. Baptist in the 2007 Division VA title game — nonetheless enjoyed an outstanding season as Horizon League champions, after an 0-4 start.

Mike Nelson is the former editor of The Tidings (predecessor of Angelus News).

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