Girls BB: Top seeds roll in CIF Open

Unlike the boys, there were hardly any stunners in the first round of the CIF Open Division girls basketball state playoffs, which began on Friday across the state. The top four seeds all won in the Southern California bracket of eight teams. The only top four seed in Northern California to fall was No. 4 Folsom, which lost at home to No. 5 Salesian of Richmond.

For a similar wrap-up of the CIF Open Division boys basketball games played on Friday, CLICK HERE.

Here are some highlights/comments from each first-round game:

State No. 1 Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 62,
State No. 17 Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 25

All-American Haley Jones continued her recent surge in the aftermath of the Monarchs (28-0) losing center Nicole Blakes (University of San Diego) to a knee injury. She scored 25 points and had 13 rebounds with four blocks and four steals, according to a tweet from Vytas Mazeika of the Bay Area News Group. O’Dowd, which knocked off state-ranked Miramonte of Orinda to win the CIF North Coast Section D2 title, ended 19-11. The Dragons lost twice previously to Mitty by big scores. The Monarchs, who also are ranked No. 1 in the nation, play Salesian of Richmond next on Tuesday in the regional semifinals.

Aquira DeCosta was the State Junior of the Year after last season and will play in college at Baylor. Photo: Mark Tennis.

State No. 2 St. Mary’s (Stockton) 66,
State No. 16 Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) 37

It wasn’t hard for Rams’ head coach Tom Gonzalves to get his team fired up for Newman. During the 2016-17 regular season, a banged up St. Mary’s squad lost to the Cardinals on its home floor. This time, the rout was on in the first quarter. The Rams (27-2) nearly put all five starters in double figures with Ari Johnson’s 16 points and 15 from Aquira DeCosta leading the way. Nicole Young hit three 3-pointers and Neenah Young hit two. Jada Moss added 12 points. The Cardinals (24-5) were only outscored 32-28 in the second half, which offered some solace to head coach Monica Mertle based on comments to the local Stockton Record. St. Mary’s will now play state No. 6 Pinewood of Los Altos Hills (24-2*) in the regional semifinals on Tuesday at Delta College. The NorCal No. 3 seeded Panthers received a forfeit win on Friday when its scheduled opponent, No. 7 seed Carondelet of Concord, was removed from the tournament by the school for violations of team conduct at a party from the previous weekend.

State No. 3 Windward of Los Angeles 67,
State No. 19 Fairfax of Los Angeles 47

Head coach Vanessa Nygaard’s girls handled their business in a solid win over the CIF L.A. City Section Open Division champions. Windward (24-3) will now face the No. 4 seed Etiwanda Eagles in the regional semifinals on Tuesday. The Wildcats, who are top seed in the SoCal bracket, are attempting to follow up last year’s title in the CIF Division I state playoffs with one in the Open Division. Fairfax (27-5) ended at 27-5 overall.

State No. 4 Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood) 56,
State No. 10 Clovis North (Fresno) 44

If the Wolverines want to get another shot at Windward in the SoCal Open final — the two have already played three times with the Wildcats winning most recently in the CIF Southern Section Open Division final — they’ll have to complete a two-game sweep of the Clovis schools in Tuesday’s regional semifinals. Harvard-Westlake (26-5) got the first win of that attempt by topping a Broncos’ squad it only beat by five points earlier this season. Leading scorers were Ashlee Wong with 14 points followed by Jayla Ruffus-Milner (13), Kiki Iriafen (11) and Melanie Hirsch (11). Defending CIF Open Division state champ Clovis West will be next. Clovis North wrapped up a 26-6 campaign in which three of its losses were to Clovis West and two were to Harvard-Westlake.

State No. 5 Clovis West (Fresno) 62,
State No. 11 Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 54

Recently retired longtime Fresno Bee prep editor Andy Boogaard did a great job tweeting from this game. The host Golden Eagles (31-3) had some anxious moments as Mater Dei led 29-25 early in the third quarter. Stellar junior Madison Campbell then made some big shots and big plays to turn the tide. Clovis West freshman Champney Pulliam then helped seal the win by making 6-of-6 free throws in the final minutes. The Monarchs (23-6) did a great job to stay close with a lineup without two starters and three key players due to injuries. One of their young guns, freshman Brooke Demetre, had a strong outing with 16 points and seven rebounds.

State No. 8 Salesian (Richmond) 57,
State No. 7 Folsom 52

When these two teams met earlier it was a win for Folsom in the semifinals of the top division at the West Coast Jamboree. This time, Salesian’s interior strength was even more of a factor as the Pride avenged that defeat. Head coach Steve Pezzola’s girls (27-5) will now head to No. 1 and unbeaten Archbishop Mitty for the regional semifinals. Folsom completed its season at 27-5. Both teams probably had their reactions to winning and losing tempered just a bit when news of the Folsom boys upsetting the top seed Salesian boys in a game played at Albany was received.

State No. 9 Etiwanda 65,
State No. 18 Mount Miguel (Spring Valley) 40

The host Eagles (25-5) were dominant in an easy win over the CIF San Diego Section Open Division champions. They will now have to travel on Tuesday to play top-seed Windward in Tuesday’s regional semifinals. The margin of victory over the Matadors (30-2) will fuel further speculation that the CIFSS should have had a fifth team in the SoCal Open Division bracket.

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