MORAGA -- Ivan Rabb's back was tight, El Cerrito's physical and fast style was creating problems, and Bishop O'Dowd High just generally wasn't playing well in the first half of the North Coast Section Division III boys basketball final.

"It was our worst half of the year," O'Dowd coach Lou Richie said. "We definitely weren't playing smart basketball, we weren't playing physical."

But after an inspiring halftime speech by assistant coach Mike Bannister, the Dragons seized control to beat El Cerrito 89-69 on Saturday at Saint Mary's College for their third consecutive section title.

Rabb, O'Dowd's star junior forward, finished with 29 points and 13 rebounds as the Dragons turned a two-point halftime lead into a blowout.

"We had a pretty good speech and I just got real motivated," Rabb said. "(Coach Bannister) told us to go out and play like we normally do, to play harder than we normally do, and it worked."

Paris Austin helped the Dragons (26-4) surge ahead for good in the third quarter when he scored eight of his 17 points.

O'Dowd players gave their title medals to the school's girls team, which was disqualified from the NCS playoffs for playing more than the allotted regular season games and didn't get the chance to play for a sixth-straight title.

"The girls will remember that for the rest of their lives and hopefully the young men will, too," Richie said. "Way to show selflessness."


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O'Dowd put the game away at the foul line, going 19 for 28 in the second half as three Gauchos fouled out. El Cerrito (28-4) was whistled for 33 fouls, and O'Dowd just 16.

Division II

Newark Memorial 74, Concord 70: Joey Frenchwood hit a go-ahead layup with 34 seconds left and added two game-clinching free throws as the Cougars survived a scare from the upstart Minutemen in winning their third straight NCS Division II title.

No. 4 seeded Concord, which had overtime wins in the quarterfinals and semifinals, led 52-46 entering the final period before Michael Pickney made three 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter to help Newark recover.

Frenchwood scored 24 points and Pickney added 19. Siaan Rojas led Concord with 19 points.

-- Stephanie Hammon

Division IV

Moreau Catholic 73, Salesian 68: It took a 23-point fourth quarter and a game-winning 3-pointer to do it, but the Mariners (24-6) beat the Pride (20-14) to win the NCS Division IV title at Dublin High.

Brandon Lawrence scored 21 points, including the game-clinching basket.

Moreau Catholic led 66-65 when Salesian's Bernard Ward hit a 3-pointer with 46.7 second left off a broken inbounds play. But Lawrence hit his fourth 3-pointer of the game from the left corner with just more than 30 seconds left to give the Mariners a 69-68 lead.

Salesian turned the ball over on the next possession and all that was left was a series of fouls and free throws.

-- Wes Goldberg

Division V

St. Joseph Notre Dame 49, Branson-Ross 48: Jade' Smith made two free throws with 0.2 seconds left to lift the Pilots (27-5) over the Bulls (25-6) in a controversial finish at Albany High.

Smith was fouled by John Broderick as he was trying to get off a shot at the buzzer. Smith went down in pain, but it turned out to be a cramp in his left leg.

The clock had originally expired. Then, the officials huddled for nearly a minute, including the fourth official who sits at the scorer's table. Two-tenths of a second was put back on the clock. After Smith made his two foul shots, Branson inbounded the ball but didn't have enough time to get off a shot.

"I'm just pretty excited right now," Smith said. "I don't know what I'm thinking right now."

The Bulls didn't agree with the final call. They were celebrating on the court before realizing a foul had been called.

"I did not see a foul," Branson coach Bret Tovani said. "I heard the horn before I heard anything else. I saw a missed shot, I saw a scramble down there, the horn."

-- Damin Esper, correspondent

Community College

Chabot 101, San Francisco 94: Chabot stunned City College of San Francisco (29-2) to advance to the final four of the CCCAA state championships, which begin Friday at Cerritos College. It's the first time the Gladiators (25-7) have advanced to the final four in 19 years.

Chabot went 11 for 12 from the foul line in the last two minutes in ending the Rams' 28-game win streak.

Leo Smith led Chabot with 24 points and Greg Brown added 22. Paris Davis had 17, including 8 of 8 from the foul line in the second half.

Dulani Robinson had 31 points for the Rams.

-- Tony Gonsalez, correspondent