The Bishop O'Dowd High girls basketball team has plenty of respect on the regional and national levels, but Dragons coach Malik McCord still labeled Saturday's 80-59 triumph over St. Mary's-Stockton a "statement win."
The Dragons handled the perennial national power from the Sac-Joaquin Section without too much trouble to solidify their own status as one of the country's best teams.
Playing in front of a sold-out home crowd in Oakland, O'Dowd (21-3) continuously broke the Rams' full-court pressure defense and used its superior size to its advantage. Entering the week, both the Dragons and Rams were ranked in the top 25 in various national polls.
"Their press is legendary," said Duke-bound senior Oderah Chidom, who had 22 points and 12 rebounds to lead O'Dowd. "Our guards did such a good job of staying relaxed and not turning the ball over in the backcourt. Because of their hard work, I was able to get easy looks."
Ariell Bostick, Asha Thomas and Aisia Robertson did the tough work and the post trio of Chidom, Breanna Brown and K.C. Waters finished with transition layups to give O'Dowd a 32-11 lead after one quarter.
The Dragons led by as many as 24 in the second period before St. Mary's (24-2) adjusted its defense and made a charge, getting within nine points near the end of the third quarter.
"We knew they were going to make a run, but I felt like we just took off the gas," McCord said. "In the third quarter we didn't execute well at all."
Robertson (15 points) and Bostick (nine points) quickly responded to the Rams' 11-0 run with a back-to-back layups, and O'Dowd's lead was comfortable again.
Brown, Waters and Chidom, O'Dowd's three senior posts who will all play at NCAA Division I colleges next season, helped account for a big rebounding advantage against a St. Mary's team with no player over 5-foot-10.
Bri Moore carried St. Mary's with 22 points and nine rebounds. Brown had a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds for O'Dowd.
NCS Dual Championships: The second-seeded Spartans came from behind to defeat host and No. 1 seed James Logan 35-30 in a thrilling final at the North Coast Section Division I Dual Meet Championships.
This was the fifth straight Division I title for the Spartans, who also claimed the Division II crown in 2007 and 2008.
De La Salle battled some of the toughest teams in California this season -- Clovis, Gilroy, Bakersfield and Buchanan -- all teams ranked in the state's top 20, according to www.thecaliforniawrestler.com. De La Salle went winless against those teams but has been able to use those experiences to its benefit in recent weeks.
"Those are some of the top teams in the state, and we had a lot of teachable moments from those," Spartans coach Mark Halvorson said.
In Division II, top-seeded Las Lomas beat No. 2 Albany 39-22 for its second title in three years. After winning the championship two years ago, they were runner-ups last year to Albany.
In the Division I finals, Logan took a 24-12 lead on an 8-6 win by Art Flores over Nathan Cervantez at 128 pounds.
De La Salle's Wesley Hart scored a pin in 56 seconds over Felix Benavente at 134 pounds to cut Logan's lead to 24-18, but the Colts responded with a pin in 5:21 by Jacob Macalolooy over Andrew Cervantez to give Logan a 30-18 lead.
But the final four matches were won by the Spartans. Scott King led the charge with a 16-1 technical-fall victory with one second left in his match against Eugene Biyok at 154 pounds.
At 162 pounds -- the second to last match of the night -- Jimmy Cabral gave De La Salle a 32-30 lead with a 5-1 win over Alvaro Salas. Aaron Pease capped the night with a 6-0 win over Zach Wally at 172 pounds.
-- Steve R. Waterhouse, correspondent