Desire Finnie scored 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead Berkeley High to a 54-44 win over McClymonds on March 9 in the second round of the Northern California Regional Division I girls basketball tournament at Oakland Tech.
The Yellowjackets broke open the game with a 10-0 run to start the third quarter, breaking a 34-34 tie in the process. Berkeley turned up the defensive pressure in the final period, forcing seven turnovers.
"We decided to start playing with trust," Yellowjackets coach Cheryl Draper said. "Our zone, we were having some really good help defense. And our shot selection was good. They weren't always falling, but we knew we always had a good chance that somebody would get a rebound."
On March 12, Berkeley advanced to the NorCal Division I championship game for the third year in a row with a 54-46 semifinal victory over Gunn-Palo Alto. The Yellowjackets will face Oak Ridge-El Dorado Hills in the championship game on March 16 at 2 p.m. at Sleep Train Arena-Sacramento.
On March 9, Finnie got Berkeley going in the fourth quarter with a jumper. Ella Jane McCoy followed with a 3-pointer. Finnie finished the run with two baskets sandwiched around a free throw. Finnie scored 10 of her points in the fourth quarter.
The Warriors put up a fight but never could counter that run in the fourth quarter. Although McClymonds stuck with a six-player rotation most of the game, coach Dennis Flannery said he didn't think his team got tired.
"I don't necessarily think that we wore down," Flannery said.
"I thought it was when we missed a shot, instead of maybe getting back, we stood and thought about it. Berkeley's too good a basketball team to do that."
Rachel Howard added 12 points, 11 rebounds and four assists for the Yellowjackets. Jaimoninia Welch-Coleman added 10 points.
St. Mary's 43, Sacramento 31: The host Panthers relied on their usual formula to kick off the Open Division era of the NorCal regional playoffs with a win on March 8.
A lockdown defensive effort, led by Mikayla Cowling and Gabby Green, help extend St. Mary's winning streak to 18 games. The 31 points was the lowest offensive output of the season for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II champions.
In a semifinal game on March 13, St. Mary's pushed No. 1 seed Bishop O'Dowd before falling 50-40.
In addition to their disruptive defense on March 8, Cowling (18 points) and Green (14) also shouldered the brunt of the scoring load against Sacramento.
St. Mary's limited Sacramento to a single field goal in the second quarter, going on a 14-0 run to take control. The Panthers' transition game played a big role in the run.
Sacramento got within seven points in the third quarter, but again the Panthers defense was there to answer. Back-to-back steals by Cowling and Green led to easy layups that put St. Mary's up 32-19 at the end of the quarter.
-- Stephanie Hammon
Campolindo 69, El Cerrito 65, OT: The Cougars' Andrew Zolitakis sank a very long 3-pointer with seven seconds left to send the game into overtime, then Campolindo outscored the host Gauchos 8-4 in the final period of this Northern California Regional Division III quarterfinal game on March 9.
Anthony Sullen led a balanced Gauchos scoring effort with 14 points. Marcellus Pippins added 13 points for El Cerrito, which ended its season with a 22-11 record.
Menlo 60, St. Mary's 54: Host Menlo ended the Panthers' season on March 6 in the first round of the Northern California Regional Division IV playoffs. Jeremy Dennis paced St. Mary's with 14 points, and teammates Ian Bonde and Aren Ulmer added 13 points apiece.