The St. Mary's High School girls basketball team used a swarming defense to limit Salesian to 21 points through three quarters of the Panthers' 48-40 victory on Feb. 16 in the Tri-County Athletic League playoff championship game at El Cerrito.
"We just did a better job of communicating," said St. Mary's coach Nate Fripp about his team's defense in the game. On Feb. 17, the Panthers (25-4) earned the No. 1 seed in the North Coast Section Division IV playoffs and will host a quarterfinal game on Feb. 23.
In the TCAL championship game, St. Mary's Gabby Green scored a team-high 21 points, including seven in a key 9-1 run in the first four minutes of the second quarter.
St. Mary's entered the second quarter with only a 12-7 lead, but a 3-pointer in the left corner by Green and two free throws in the first minute started the 9-1 run. Salesian (23-6) didn't closer than six points the rest of the game.
"She was under control, she knew when to attack," said Fripp about Green, who also had six steals. "She played a great floor game."
St. Mary's Taylor Berry also did a great job defending Salesian star Mariya Moore. Moore scored a team-high 21 points, but 11 of those points were in the final four minutes of the game. The Panthers held a 37-21 lead after three quarters and a 42-21 advantage with five minutes left in the game. Salesian is the No. 2 seed in the NCS Division IV playoffs.
St. Mary's Mikayla Cowling had a great all-around game with 11 points, eight rebounds, four steals and three assists. Teammate Kwele Serrell passed for seven assists, and Elexis Goodwin grabbed eight rebounds for the Panthers.
Salesian 65, El Cerrito 51: The Pride (26-3) used a 15-4 run in the second quarter to take control and win the Tri-County Athletic League playoff championship game at El Cerrito.
El Cerrito (20-9) trailed by only two at 14-12 after an inside basket by Wyvone Birden. But a 3-pointer by Lance Coleman II started the 15-4 run, and Salesian was in control the rest of the game. Birden grabbed nine rebounds in the game.
Jabari Bird led a balanced Salesian scoring effort with 16 points. El Cerrito's Anthony Sullen led all scorers with 18 points.
Salesian is the No. 1 seed in the Division IV playoffs. El Cerrito is the No. 3 seed in the Division III playoffs.
-- Phil Jensen
El Cerrito 53, St. Joseph Notre Dame 50: Marcellus Pippins hit five 3-pointers to finish with 15 points as the host Gauchos erased a 15-point halftime deficit and beat the Pilots in the semifinals of the TCAL playoffs on Feb. 14. Tre James added 10 points and eight rebounds in the win. Temidayo Yussef led the Pilots (18-11) with 21 points.
WACC Championships: In the inaugural West Alameda County Conference Championships at Arroyo High School on Feb. 16, Castro Valleyedged San Leandro for first place with 209 points. San Leandro finished with 182 followed by Albany (149.5). Castro Valley had seven individual champions.
The top three finishers advanced to the North Coast Section Championships, which starts on Feb. 22 at Newark Memorial.
The most thrilling match of the day came at 197 pounds as Bob Ely of Albany outlasted Michael Ponce of Hayward in two overtimes, 6-5.
Easily the second-best match was another overtime cliffhanger that saw Arroyo's Ben Sira beat Albany's Alex Malanche at 184 pounds with a takedown in overtime for a 6-4 victory.
-- Steve R. Waterhouse, correspondent