Big winners include Salesian, Pleasant Grove, Archbishop Mitty, Modesto Christian, Justin-Siena and Pinewood. Salesian’s defense was the key in stopping Miramonte in the Open Division. Modesto Christian’s comeback from 17 points down in the second half against Enterprise also was amazing. Look for our CIF state finals’ predictions on Monday.
(We had Harold Abend and photog Willie Eashman in Sacramento with Paul Muyskens at American Canyon)
Note: For expanded State Top 20 rankings plus the next divisional state rankings, please check out a Gold Club membership. It’s less than $2 per month and some of our all-state lists in a few weeks also will be for Gold Club members only. For info, CLICK HERE.
OPEN DIVISION NORTH
Salesian (Richmond) 78, Miramonte (Orinda) 64
The Pride became the second straight NorCal Open Division winner from the North Coast Section and hopes to follow Bishop O’Dowd next week as the CIF champ in the state’s top division. For Harold Abend’s recap, CLICK HERE.
DIVISION I NORTH
Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove) 51, Berkeley 42
Not many expected No. 11 seed Pleasant Grove to be playing for a state championship, but after a solid defensive performance against No. 4 seed Berkeley, the Eagles will be back at practice next week, after the team won its first Northern Regional Division I title in its first-ever appearance in a final.
In fact, Pleasant Grove has never played for or won a section title, including this season when it was knocked out of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinals by El Dorado Hills Oak Ridge.
“I told you guys I’d see you at practice on Monday,” a jubilant Pleasant Grove head coach James McKeever told his girls at the end of the post-game press conference.
In a game where baskets were a premium, particularly in a first half that saw Berkeley leading 18-15 after two quarters, Pleasant Grove didn’t shoot the lights out, but its 17-of-43 (.395) looked good in comparison to the .262 of Berkeley on 17-of-65 from the field.
Brittany Nguyen led Pleasant Grove (25-9) with 14 points, including 2-of-4 from three-point range.
Hawaii-bound 6-foot-1 post Aaliyah Pena added a double-double 13 points and 11 rebounds. She had eight points and six rebounds in the fourth quarter despite picking up her fourth foul late in the third quarter.
Three weeks ago after the loss Oak Ridge, McKeever was a bit disconsolate, but the Cal-Hi Sports Caravan reminded him in the parking lot afterward that his team was still alive and all the girls had to do was play one game at a time.
“After that loss we talked to the girls and told them just that, we’re qualified for D1 state so lets just take it one game at a time,” McKeever remarked.
Berkeley (24-9) was looking to add to its record 12 NorCal titles but just couldn’t convert enough baskets.
“We took shots when we were too anxious,” Berkeley head coach Cheryl Draper said. “In the second half Pleasant Grove did a nice job of getting us out of our game and then they turned the tables on us.”
University of Pacific-bound Desire Finnie led Berkeley with a game-high 16 points. Jaiamoni Welch-Coleman added 13 points, but the duo was only 13-of-44 from the field, and the rest of the team was 4-of-21.
Pleasant Grove will be a huge underdog again next Friday night when it meets Southern Regional top seed Canyon Springs of Moreno Valley in the Division I state championship. Pleasant Grove also will now try to match the feat of the school’s boys team, which won last year’s D1 state title.
DIVISION II NORTH
Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 57, McNair (Stockton) 54
Most everyone predicted this would be a close game and that’s exactly the way it turned out.
In the end it was two stats — 5-of-5 and 9-of-9 — that ended up being one of the biggest factors in the contest.
Sophomore Jahnay Anderson (17 points) set a Northern Regional record when she made five 3-pointers and didn’t miss along the way.
Kelli Hayes had some trouble early with her shots not falling, but the UCLA-bound star was 9-of-9 from the free-throw line, including 4-of-4 in the fourth quarter. Plus, she scored the game’s last two points when she iced a pair from the charity stripe with 8.8 seconds left. Despite picking up her fourth foul at 7:44 of the fourth quarter, Hayes tied Anderson for team-high with 17 points, with 10 coming in the final period after she returned with 6:02 remaining.
“We took her out and told her she needed to settle, get a breather and go back in there,” Mitty head coach Sue Phillips said. “After that Kelli basically took over the game.”
Mitty (21-11) led 38-31 early in the third quarter before McNair went on an 18-6 run to take a 49-44 with 4:30 left.
From there it was the Kelli Hayes show.
“Playing with four fouls wasn’t that tough because I knew my teammates were covering their girls,” Hayes remarked.
McNair (28-5) was looking to win it’s first-ever NorCal title. The Eagles had four girls in double-figure scoring led by the 14 points of Brittany Butler. University of San Francisco-bound Tiara Tucker had 13 points, Bykema Mobley added 12 points, and Oklahoma State-bound Mandy Coleman had a double-double 10 points and 18 rebounds with four blocks, but the Mitty defense held her to 3-of-14 shooting.
“We had some trouble this season in league but we’ve proved so many people wrong, and we want to prove more people wrong by winning state,” Hayes said.
To do that, Mitty will have to defeat Chaminade next Saturday afternoon for the Division II state championship.
Mitty also won its 10th NorCal regional title. Berkeley was going for its 13th later in the day.
DIVISION III NORTH
Modesto Christian (Modesto) 58, Enterprise (Redding) 56
After a back and forth first half that saw Enterprise of Redding lead 32-28 at halftime, the Hornets took over in the third quarter and opened up a lead as big as 17 points by the final minute of the third quarter before Modesto Christian put together a comeback for the ages. The Crusaders outscored the Hornets 22-6 in the fourth quarter for the 58-56 win.
Trailing 54-44 with under five minutes remaining, the Crusaders scored four quick points to cut the deficit down to six points with 3:57 remaining. All of a sudden, everyone in the gym realized it was game that was going to come down to the final minute. Less then two minutes later, that deficit was gone as Lexi Tubbs converted a layup to tie the score at 55-55.
After a free throw for the Hornets gave them a one-point lead, the Crusaders answered right back to take the lead on a Stephanie Moore layup. They added a free throw with eight seconds remaining and the Hornets’ attempt at a game-winning 3-pointer was blocked, sending the Crusaders into a frenzy and their fans into bedlam in the stands.
“Our girls played their hearts out tonight,” said Hornets head coach Ray Hermann. “We changed the way people look at basketball in the Northern Section.” The Hornets on offense were led by sophomore Kamira Sanders as she finished with a game-high 23 points. Rachel Martin had 16 points while Jordan Kimbrough despite foul trouble finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Tubbs on the night finished with 13 points while Stephanie Moore led the way with 18 points. Jasmine Hampton also had a big night with 12 points and eight rebounds including a big put back during the rally off of a missed free throw.
“We never doubted ourselves,” said Crusaders’ head coach Robb Spencer. “We always believed. One stop at a time. One basket at a time.”
Modesto Christian will now attempt to win the program’s first CIF state crown after losses in the D5 final in 2002 to La Jolla Country Day and in 2009 to Mater Dei Catholic of Chula Vista.
DIVISION IV NORTH
Justin-Siena (Napa) 47, Arcata 26
For the second time in program history, the Braves will be headed to play for a state championship as they defeated the Tigers 47-26 in what almost seemed like a home game.
Despite the game being near the Justin-Siena campus and the expected heavy number of Braves fans in the crowd outnumbering Arcata’s fans, it was a bit of a shock that the Braves won by such a large margin as the two teams faced off earlier this season and the Tigers picked up the 49-45 win.
Wasting no time in jumping out to a big lead, the Braves led by Haley Cremen and Sadie Irvine jumped out to a 22-10 halftime lead. Cremen and Irvine combined to outscore the Tigers 12-10 in the opening 16 minutes. Cremen scored a game-high 15 points along with six rebounds while Irvine was the lone other player in double figures with 12 points and five rebounds.
With all the momentum on the court and in the crowd on their side, Justin-Siena outscored the Tigers 10-5 in the third quarter for a 32-15 lead while winning all four quarters.
“We executed on both sides of the ball very well tonight,” said Braves’ head coach Mike Boles. “Everything starts with our defense and we want to get the ball and push it. We have been playing great basketball the last six weeks.”
St. Mary’s of Berkeley had won the previous two Division IV NorCal championships with Salesian of Richmond winning the two before that but with both teams playing in the NorCal Open Division it set the stage for the Braves to earn a trip to the state finals.
Arcata made its first appearance in a regional final.
DIVISION V NORTH
Pinewood (Los Altos Hills) 61, Brookside Christian (Stockton) 38
For the fifth time in the last six years, and seventh in the last 10 years, Doc Scheppler and the Panthers are headed to the Division V state finals.
In a battle of our top two ranked teams in the Division V state rankings, it was the No. 1 Knights who missed some easy early shots while the Panthers were hitting from behind the arc. As the Panthers hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter, it was clear to see the confidence level on one side and lacking on the other as the Panthers were pumping fists and hollering early and often.
“Early on we hit some fortunate threes to get comfortable,” said Scheppler after the game. “After five or six minutes we looked at each other and said we are going to beat this team. I don’t think it was as much our defense as them missing shots.”
For the game, the Knights shot just 22.8 percent from the floor and 23.5 percent from 3-point territory while the Panthers shot 37.5 percent from the floor and knocked down nine 3-pointers.
Led by the play of Marissa Hing in the first half, who scored all 12 of her points in that half, the Panthers took a 15-8 lead after one quarter and led at halftime 26-19. The Knights’ top two leading scorers, Ra’Kyra Gabriel and Ariana Vaughn, were held to a combined seven points in the first half and would combine for just 17 points for the game.
Gabi Bade led the second half charge for the Panthers as she scored 14 of her game-high 16 points as they extended their lead to 46-30 entering the fourth quarter.
“One of the finest Pinewood basketball games in our annals,” said Scheppler. “We played an awesome game.” His team will now take on La Jolla Country Day next week for the Division V state championship.
Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports