Winners on the day at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento are Berkeley and Serra of San Mateo. Winners at American Canyon High near Napa are Manteca, Palma of Salinas and St. Joseph Notre Dame of Alameda. Recaps by Mark Tennis & Paul Muyskens.
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Menlo-Atherton (Atherton) 51
Yellowjackets head coach Mark DeLuca isn’t going to have to walk into the gym very soon having to look at 12 Northern California titles won by the school’s girls with nothing showing for the boys.
Berkeley (24-8) captured its first NorCal title on Saturday and will attempt to win its first CIF state title since 1924 next week when it plays Crespi of Encino.
Northern California’s winningest school in boys hoops (more than 1,500 wins since 1904) powered past the Bears (28-5) in the late minutes of the third quarter and for most of the fourth.
“It’s amazing to have such a tradition, winning all those TOC (Tournament of Champions) titles so for us to win a NorCal title makes us incredibly proud,” DeLuca said.
Two other storylines regarding the Yellowjackets: they improved to 5-1 in games in which they lost the first time against an opponent and they hope to replicate the path of San Ramon Valley (Danville) from last season. SRV, remember, also lost in the CIF North Coast Section D1 semifinals only to bounce back and win the D1 state crown.
Niles Malone led a balanced attack for Berkeley with 18 points. He was followed by Bryan Morris with 17, Bryant Monroe with 14 and Sean Spikes with 11.
Menlo-Atherton, which had not played in a NorCal final since 1989, stayed close but could not get enough stops to mount a serious rally. Blake Henry netted 16 points and Christian Fioretti hit for 12 for the Bears.
Serra (San Mateo) 59,
El Cerrito 53
Senior guard Miles Todzo only scored six points for the Padres, but his 3-pointer and a lay-up late in the fourth quarter pushed their lead from 46-44 to 51-44 and helped them win this game.
Serra, which trailed 27-23 at halftime, will be going to the CIF state finals for the first time since 2005. In that season, head coach Chuck Rapp’s squad went in Division I and lost to Westchester of Los Angeles 68-45.
“The first time I had nerves and stress,” Rapp said. “This time, I’m going to try to enjoy it.”
The key for the Padres (24-5) in getting to the D2 state final ironically may have been a two-point loss to Bellarmine of San Jose in the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division semifinals. If Serra had won that game (it beat the Bells twice earlier), it’s easy to see that the team might have been chosen once again for the NorCal Open Division. Instead, they went to the regionals in D2 and are in the state final.
“That loss refocused us,” Rapp said. “We were winning, but not clicking. It’s always hard in these tournaments to not lose a game somewhere down the line. We hit our bump and it’s been a clean highway the rest of the way.”
Senior John Besse topped Serra with 17 points while Jeremiah Testa had 14 and Jake Killingsworth had 12 to go with a game-high 14 rebounds.
El Cerrito (22-14) got 17 points from both Sayeed Pridgett and Edward Gray. Pridgett, a recent Cal-Hi Sports NorCal Player of the Week, fouled out with 2:44 left in the game.
Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 45
It was a day for several schools to play in their very first NorCal championship basketball game and the final one of those new teams at American Canyon knocked off last year’s Open Division state champion.
After a back and forth first half that had Manteca ahead 27-26 at halftime, the Buffaloes’ defense came to life in the second half as the Dragons between the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth quarter didn’t make a field goal for over seven minutes.
The Buffaloes, meanwhile, went on a 17-2 run to turn a 32-30 lead into a 49-32 lead with under five minutes to play.
“This was the best defensive game we played all year,” said Buffaloes head coach Brett Lewis about the performance of his team that held the Dragons to just 25.4 percent shooting on the night after a second half that saw them shoot 18.8 percent.
“I knew if I set the tone early everyone else would follow,” said Anand Hundal who had a quick start and finished with a game-high 25 points.
Kenny Wooten Jr. had 13 points and game-high 20 rebounds as the Buffaloes out rebounded the Dragons 43-26.
O’Dowd, playing in its 13th NorCal title game, was led by B.J. Shaw with 14 points.
Since O’Dowd (17-15) had eliminated a Weston Ranch of Stockton team that had beaten Manteca three times, the margin of victory by the Buffaloes (28-6) was certainly hard to digest.
Palma (Salinas) 58,
West Campus (Sacramento) 56
Despite trailing for a majority of the game, the Chieftains (26-4) had the lead when it mattered the most as they put together a 14-0 run in the final four minutes to capture the win in stunning comeback fashion.
Despite making the game’s first basket for a 2-0 lead and holding the Warriors (29-6) without a basket for over four minutes, Palma gave up nine straight to fall behind 9-2 and they would remain trailing until they took the lead with 29 seconds remaining in the game on Jamaree Bouyea’s three-point play for the game’s final points.
Bouyea had nine of his 19 points in the final minutes, including two big 3-pointers before the old-fashioned three-point play. Wyatt Maker also had five of his game-high 22 points over the final five minutes.
“Our guys fought hard and the last couple of minutes just got away from us,” said Warriors coach Fred Wilson, who felt like he was partly to blame for the loss by trying to slow things down over the final minutes but his team also missed three front ends of one and ones at the free throw line.
Isaiah Bates put on a show in defeat as he scored 17 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked four shots.
Palma advanced to its first state championship game since 1992 and 1993 when the Cheiftains made back to back Division IV state finals.
St. Joseph Notre Dame (Alameda) 67,
Stuart Hall (San Francisco) 58 (3 OTs)
It was game that had it all but a game-winning buzzer beater as the Pilots captured their fifth CIF NorCal Division V championship in the last six years in a triple-overtime thriller over the Knights.
Facing Stuart Hall for the third time this season, their third win against the Knights saw both sides miss shots in the final seconds of each of the first two overtimes before the Pilots pulled away in the third extra period.
“We really grinded this out,” said longtime head coach Don Lippi after the game and whose team was held scoreless over the final 5:25 of regulation to force overtime.
Trailing by four points in the second overtime, the Pilots (25-9) got a quick basket by Darne Duckett, who played all 44 minutes and scored 14 points, before a steal and a basket off the in-bounds by Jade Smith, who also played all 44 minutes and scored a game-high 27 points, tied it up at 53-53 with 34.5 seconds remaining.
“I’m at a loss for words,” said Stuart Hall head coach Charles Robinson, whose team ended 22-12. “We have nothing to hang our heads about.”
Zeke Crawford had 26 points and 18 rebounds in the loss before fouling out early in the third overtime.