BERKELEY -- Lockdown defense and double-doubles from McDonald's All-Americans Gabby Green and Mikayla Cowling keyed the St. Mary's High girls basketball team to a 48-32 win over visiting Sacramento in the first round of the Northern California Open Division regional playoffs Friday.
The Panthers held the Dragons to just 17 points through three quarters to advance to Tuesday's semifinals for a second straight year.
Cowling had 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Green finished with 11 points, 15 rebounds, six assists and four steals as the Cal-bound duo helped St. Mary's earn yet another matchup with rival Salesian.
Salesian, which beat St. Ignatius-San Francisco 64-55 in its NorCal opener, leads the season series 3-1. But St. Mary's won the most recent meeting in last weekend's North Coast Section Division IV championship game.
St. Mary's (27-7) threatened to run past Sacramento (23-9) early, leading 16-5 after a quarter. But the Panthers' offense struggled after their strong start, settling for jump shots with Sacramento's 6-foot-4 post Ayanna Edwards defending the paint.
"We have to not rush shots and make them play defense," said Green, who said she's not bothered at all by a shoulder injury that recently kept her out of action for several weeks.
St. Mary's led 34-17 entering the fourth quarter when Aliceah Hernandez led Sacramento on a 7-0 run, getting within 34-24 with 5:05 to play.
The Panthers responded with Green's old-fashioned three-point play, then made eight straight free throws to put the game away.
But the story was the Panthers' defense, which held a Sacramento team with four Division I-bound starters and four straight Sac-Joaquin Section championships to just 32 points.
St. Mary's coach Nate Fripp said his team has been focusing primarily on defense for the past three weeks.
"We're starting to get into it," Fripp said. "Every team has to have an identity and we think we should just be a defensive team."
Ma'Ane Mosley added 14 points and eight rebounds for St. Mary's.
Edwards, who is headed to Arizona State, finished eight points, 15 rebounds and four blocks to lead Sacramento.
St. Mary's also beat Sacramento in the first round of last year's NorCal Open Division 43-31 before losing in the semifinals to eventual state champion Bishop O'Dowd.
St. Mary's 48, Sacramento 32
Cormier 2 2-2 7, Clark 1 0-1 2, Sheppard 2 3-6 7, Hernandez 3 0-0 7, Matthews 0 1-2 1, Queensland 0 0-2 0, Edwards 3 2-4 8. Totals 11 8-17 32.
St. Mary's (27-7)
Camello 1 0-0 2, Berry 1-0-0 2, Cowling 6 3-6 17, Mosley 4 6-9 14, Green 3 5-5 11, Ybarra-Harvey 0 2-2 2. Totals 15 16-22 48.
Sacramento 5 6 6 15-- 32
St. Mary's 16 7 11 14-- 48
3-point goals: Hernandez, Cowling 2. Fouled out: Hernandez, Berry, Cowling. Highlights: SM -- Cowling 10 rebounds, 3 assists; Green 15 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals; Mosley 8 rebounds. Sac -- Edwards 15 rebounds.