Girls BB: Regional Finals (Divisions)

It’s hardware collecting time for the Serra of Gardena girls basketball team after they topped Ribet Academy in CIF SoCal D1 championship. Photo: Nick Koza.

Here are writeups and breakdowns of the two Division I girls regional championship games played on Saturday night at Long Beach State and the University of Santa Clara. Read on as well for scores and briefs from the other CIF regional finals in other divisions.

For breakdowns of the two CIF Open Division regional finals for NorCal and SoCal played Saturday, CLICK HERE.

(NorCal D1 writeup by Harold Abend; all others by Mark Tennis)

Division I (NorCal)
Sacred Heart Cathedral (SF) 69,
Miramonte (Orinda) 48

Had the seeds held true, it was supposed to be an all Central Coast Section affair, and in the end it wasn’t one of the top two seeds but different CCS team that will be going to Sacramento as the Northern Regional Division I champions.

It was St. Patrick’s Day and both teams were wearing green, but only one can boast of being Irish and that’s No. 10 seed Sacred Heart Cathedral as the Fighting Irish celebrated with a resounding victory over a stunned fourth-seeded Miramonte.

The win reversed a 74-69 defeat at the West Coast Jamboree in December but three months later Sacred Heart Cathedral (15-14) showed they it was the better team in just about every aspect of the game, plus their size and defensive intensity wore down a young Miramonte. The Irish outshot Miramonte after going 25 of 62 (40.3 percent) from the field to 21.2 percent (16 of 44) for Miramonte. They were only 4 of 13 on 3-pointers but Miramonte was an abysmal 4 of 24. The Irish were 15 of 20 from the free-throw line to 16 of 25 for the Mats, and they had a 56-41 advantage on the boards.

The senior guard duo of Yaniah Fleming and Gianna Silvestri led a Sacred Heart Cathedral team that got over .500 for the first time this season, with 12 points apiece. All 10 Irish girls scored but another huge contributor was Talo Li-Uperesa. The 5-foot-11 junior center only had eight points but she snagged a game-high 11 rebounds and blocked five shots. Rainah Smith, a 5-foot-10 junior forward, added nine points and nine rebounds.

“Our girls came out and were ready to play, and I loved our defensive intensity,” Irish head coach LyRyan Russell said. “We’re a long and athletic team and it took its toll on them, and it’s quite a task to hold Clair Steele to 2 of 20 shooting.”

Steele, a Lehigh-bound senior, tied for team high 11 points with Erin Tarasow, but the Irish contested all her shots and forced her into missing at least a half-dozen layups.

“They just kicked our butts,” Miramonte head coach Kelly Sopak said. “They were just a lot tougher than we were and you have to give them credit. They got the loose ball and we didn’t, and we got out-hustled and out-rebounded.”

It was the ninth NorCal crown for Sacred Heart Cathedral but with the new competitive equity formula used to place teams it was the first in Division I. It was also not the first time the Fighting Irish have won a NorCal or even a state title on St. Patrick’s Day.

“That means it’s not luck it’s skill,” mused senior Errayanna Hatfield (six points, five rebounds, three assists when told of previous Irish St. Paddies’ Day victories.

For Miramonte (28-6), which also was No. 18 in the last State Top 20 and was viewed as the bracket favorite when it started by Cal-Hi Sports, it was the second straight year the team has lost in a NorCal title game. The Mats fell to eventual state champion Vanden of Fairfield in the 2017 NorCal D2 final.

Division I (SoCal)
Serra (Gardena) 58,
Ribet Academy (Los Angeles) 46

A poor first quarter doomed the Fighting Frogs as they trailed 14-6 and one of their top players, Maria Lola Penande, was saddled with four fouls.

The Cavs never looked back. They went on to lead 31-18 at halftime en route to clinching a berth in the D1 state final.

Head coach McKinsey Hadley’s squad improved to 24-8 and may move up from its No. 10 state ranking. Serra will be trying to win its second CIF state title. The Cavs (24-8) won the D4 state crown in 2013 and then lost in the D1 state final to McClatchy of Sacramento in 2015.

The closest Ribet came to Serra was 31-25 early in the third quarter and it was 44-38 with 4:56 to go. At that point, poor box outs on free throw attempts led to an easy basket by Rachel Duru. And the Fighting Frogs never seriously threatened again.

Serra is usually led by Alexis Tucker as its top scorer, but on this night a number of Cavs stepped up. Lauryn Pointer fired in 17 points, Cheyenne Givens hit for 16 and Tucker had 10.

Six-foot-nine center Andrea Aquino had 13 points and 13 rebounds for Ribet, which ended 26-6 and was No. 13 in the most recent State Top 20.

Division II
Pleasant Valley (Chico) 47, Valley Christian (San Jose) 40
Redondo (Redondo Beach) 56, San Marcos 43
These two teams were put at No. 1 and No. 2 in the state when the regional brackets came out two weeks ago. Pleasant Valley (25-4) hasn’ been to the CIF state finals since 1985 when the Vikings finished 28-0 after defeating El Camino of Oceanside 63-49. They lost in the same divisional state final the year before to Point Loma of San Diego. Redondo improved to 30-5.

Division III
West Campus (Sacramento) 59, Clovis 54
Sunny Hills (Fullerton) 53, Mater Dei Catholic (Chula Vista) 50
The Warriors (28-7) are looking to add a D3 state crown after they won it all in D4 last season. After a horrendous first half when Sunny Hills (23-13) was 1-for-17 shooting in the second quarter, the Lancers were down 24-14. They should have been further behind. They rallied to tie the score after the third quarter and won it in the fourth.

Division IV
Woodside Priory (Portola Valley) 59, Bradshaw Christian (Sacramento) 58
Rolling Hills Prep (San Pedro) 55, Knight (Palmdale) 47
Last year, Rolling Hills Prep (30-2) lost to Eastside College Prep in the D5 state final. Head coach Richard Masson’s girls are facing a team from the same league this season (which is also the same league as NorCal Open champion Pinewood). Woodside Priory improved to 17-14.

Division V
Lowell (San Francisco) 48, Durham 31
Sierra Pacific (Hanford) 71, Hueneme (Oxnard) 70
Well, at least the CIF won’t have two schools with 2,000 enrollment playing in the D5 state final. Lowell (20-11) is the larger school. Sierra Pacific (31-5) is a more traditional D5 by enrollment and program strength and CIF section playoff division.

Mark Tennis is the editor and publisher of Cal-Hi Sports. He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports

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