Central rode Talia Maxwell (left of head coach Paul Kariuki to the CIF D2 state championship
Harold Abend/Prep2Prep

Record performance by Maxwell propels Central to CIF D2 state title

March 13, 2023

SACRAMENTO – Many teams have a hard time shooting in cavernous NBA arenas, and that was exactly the case in the state CIF Division II girls state championship on Saturday afternoon at the Golden 1 Center.

Northern Regional champion Central only shot 32.1-percent on 17-of-53 overall from the field and 1-for-10 on three-pointers. But despite attempting 28 more shots than Central, Southern Regional champion Bonita Vista-Chula Vista unable to take advantage, converting only 18.5 percent from the field and an abysmal 2-for-27 from beyond the arc.

After all was said and done, the difference in the 52-41 victory by Central was pretty simple. While both teams had a hard time finding the basket, one girl was there to clean the glass. And as a result of her efforts on both ends of the court, Central’s Talia Maxwell turned in one of the most impressive performances in CIF state championship history.

Maxwell, a 6-foot senior forward, finished with 24 points and 24 rebounds, and with the rebounding total she etched her name in the annals of CIF championship game history. Maxwell broke record of 21 rebounds set in a D2 title game that was previously held by Ami Forney of Newark Memorial, who did it in 1997, and Julia Blackshell-Fair of Vanden, who matched the feat in 2017.

Her rebound total was also just one shy of the record of 25 in any division shared by two-time Cal-Hi Sports Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year Terri Mann, who accomplished the feat in the 1987 Division I title game for Point Loma-San Diego. That record was matched by 1997 Ms. Basketball Erin Buescher for Rincon Valley Christian-Santa Rosa in the 1997 Division V title game, and Haley Van Dyke of Campolindo in the 2017 Division III title game.

“I knew she had a special ability from the time I started coaching her in seventh grade,” said Central head coach Paul Kariuki. “This season she’s been putting up these kinds of numbers every game.”

Maxwell came into the game averaging 24.1 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, but in the four-game run to the D2 state championship she had 37 points and 12 rebounds in an opening-round win over St. Francis-Sacramento, 42 points and 11 rebounds in a quarterfinal win over Moreau Catholic, and although Marin Catholic-Kentfield held her to 13 points and nine rebounds, it was enough to help send the Grizzlies to Golden 1 Arena in Sacramento on Saturday for their date with Bonita Vista.

Central (23-12) trailed only once at 7-5, but a 20-4 run in which Maxwell had 11 points gave the Grizzlies the cushion they needed to withstand a late run by Bonita Vista that at one point had the lead down to 48-41 before Central scored the last four points. The final tally fittingly coming on a basket by Maxwell.

“It started clicking for us at the end but it was a little too late,” said Bonita Vista head coach Tristan Lamb. “The whole time we said we’re going to find the basket but we needed two more minutes.”

“Fortunately they didn’t have enough time,” Kariuki said. “And we were able to milk the clock to the end.”

Sophomore Grizzlies guard Illicia Davis nearly had a double-double of her own, finishing with 10 points and nine rebounds.

Bonita Vista (23-10) got 17 points from senior Kaylyn Buchanon-Lamb, and 14 points and 11 rebounds from Mahliya Wilson.

“We did not envision it ending this way,” Kariuki remarked. “It was an ugly win but we’ll take it.”

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