For the first time in school history, the Heritage High girls basketball team is headed to the North Coast Section Division I championship game.

To do it, the Patriots had to beat the biggest Division I heavyweight of them all -- Berkeley.

The task was no problem for the defensive-minded Patriots, who dominated the three-time defending champions in the second half to post a 65-40 victory in Wednesday's semifinals.

"It's nice to know we can do it playing a powerhouse like (Berkeley)," said Heritage coach Dan Swan. "It means we can play against anybody."

No. 1 seeded Heritage (24-4) now faces Monte Vista for the championship on Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Saint Mary's College.

Some early Heritage mistakes combined with some hot shooting by Berkeley senior Rachel Howard kept the score close throughout the first half. But as soon as the second half started, the Patriots turned the game into a rout.

Sabrina Engelstad scored five quick points in the Patriots' 11-0 run out of the break, and Berkeley (18-11) trailed by double-digits the rest of the way.

"We were nervous, we were throwing the ball all over the place, it just took us awhile to get going," Swan said. "We were doing some uncharacteristic things that we hadn't done all year. As soon as we settled down (it changed). Our defense is our best offense sometimes."

Berkeley also had trouble matching up with Engelstad, a 6-foot-3 Saint Mary's College-bound center, who finished with 11 points and 15 rebounds.


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Sydney Berry had a team-high 16 points for Heritage while Lexi Campbell added 14.

Howard paced Berkeley with 22 points. She hit four 3-pointers and scored 12 of Berkeley's first 14 points.

Berkeley, which has played in the last two Division I state championship games, will still advance to the NorCal playoffs. Though they qualify for the Open Division, the Yellowjackets will probably not be selected after the NCS semifinal loss.

The win was Heritage's 16th straight. Earlier this season, the Patriots won their first league championship by going undefeated in the Bay Valley Athletic League.

Monte Vista 47, Amador Valley 33: The third time was the charm for the visiting Mustangs (23-5), as they avenged two previous losses to the Dons (19-9) this season to advance to their first NCS Division I championship game since 2009.

"They beat us two times before. We just wanted to get back at them," said Monte Vista sophomore Amanda Daily, who came off the bench to score 11 of her 13 points in a pivotal second quarter for the Mustangs. "Everybody just came together."

Near the midway mark of the second quarter, a basket from Courtney Seams closed Monte Vista's lead to 13-12. But the Mustangs outscored the Dons 16-5 the rest of the quarter and led by double digits the entire second half.

Defensively, Monte Vista focused on stopping Alysse Ketner, who had scored 17 points in both of Amador Valley's victories over Monte Vista this season. Using a box-and-one, the Mustangs limited Ketner to two field goals and six total points.

However, Seams kept her team in the game with her inside play. The junior scored a game-high 23 points, including 11 field goals.

But the Dons were unable to cut substantially into the Mustangs' lead in the second half. Madi Burroughs scored all nine of her points in the second half for Monte Vista, including six in the final period. Lily Wissinger joined Daily for team-high scoring honors with 13, including 10 in the first half.

"That's what's great about this team -- it's so deep," Monte Vista coach Ron Hirschman said.

Then he said about Amador Valley "That's a great team over there. They just caught us on the wrong night."

-- Phil Jensen