Northern California’s top-ranked boys team, Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland, defeated El Cerrito on Saturday for CIF North Coast Section Division III title while the most significant girls game saw St. Mary’s of Berkeley beat Salesian of Richmond in Division IV.
Two-time defending CIFNCS Division III champion Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland (26-4) took everything from a very talented El Cerrito, but in the end O’Dowd’s 6-foot-10 junior Ivan Rabb and the rest of the Dragon boys had too much firepower in an 89-69 victory at St. Mary’s College.
Rabb, the ESPN national No. 1 player from the class of 2015, took control in the second half and finished with a game-high 29 points. Highly-regarded point guard Paris Austin had 17 points, while 6-foot-5 senior post Shane Farley chipped in with 12 points.
El Cerrito hung tough, and with a minute left in the first half the score was tied at 35-35. O’Dowd only led 40-38 at halftime but the top-seeded Dragons began asserting themselves and after taking a 63-55 lead into the fourth quarter, an 11-2 run to start the final period pretty much sealed the deal.
Besides being the third straight NCS D3 championship, it was NCS title No. 15 for the storied O’Dowd program.
Second-seeded El Cerrito (28-4) was led by the 18 points of junior Tyrell Alcorn. Sophomore Sayeed Pridgett added 18 points.
O’Dowd will move on to the Northen Regional Open Division and should receive the top seed. The big question is whether the commissioners will bump El Cerrito up to the Open Division or leave the Gauchos in Division III where they would appear to have a shot at a NorCal and CIF D3 state title.
NCS Division IV girls
St. Mary’s (Berkeley) 65, Salesian (Richmond) 57
The expression is usually “the third time is a charm,” but in the case of NCS Divison IV second-seeded St. Mary’s it took a fourth meeting with Salesian of Richmond for the Panthers to finally break into the win column against their league arch-rivals.
With the victory St. Mary’s (26-7) also may very well secure the No. 1 seed in the Northern Regional Open Division playoffs as a result of owning a head-to-head win over CIF Sac-Joaquin Division I champion Stockton St. Mary’s.
St. Mary’s trailed 20-9 after one quarter, 32-31 at the half, and 45-41 entering the fourth quarter, but with the Panthers at full strength after the return of Cal-bound Gabby Green from a shoulder injury, the Panthers had the depth to pull it out in the end over the top-seeded Pride.
Green finished with 10 points but it was fellow Cal-commit Mikayla Cowling that came through in the crunch. Cowling led St. Mary’s with 22 points, including seven down the stretch that helped seal the deal.
Louisville-bound Mariya Moore led Salesian (27-6) with 13 points, but the St. Mary’s defense took her out of her game on this occasion and had an effect in the final moments on the other Salesian ball-handlers.
It’s the second straight Division IV section title for St. Mary’s, and its fifth in the last six years. Salesian won the 2012 crown.