AMERICAN CANYON -- It wasn't supposed to be this easy.
Pinewood dominated every aspect of the game in a 61-38 win over Brookside Christian for the Northern California Division V championship Saturday morning at American Canyon High School.
Pinewood (29-3) won its eighth NorCal title. The Panthers will go for their sixth state championship when they play Southern California champion La Jolla Country Day in the state final Friday at 10 a.m. at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.
The biggest concern for Pinewood going into the game was maintaining composure against Brookside Christian's trapping defense. The Knights averaged more than 13 steals per game over the season. They got just one against No. 2 seed Pinewood, which did a masterful job of spreading the court and moving the ball quickly away from pressure with the pass.
Pinewood knocked down nine 3-pointers in 33 attempts -- not a great shooting day, by any means, but the "reasonable" percentage coach Doc Scheppler was hoping for. And when No. 1 seed Brookside Christian (28-5) had the ball, Pinewood's defense was just outstanding. The Knights shot 22.8 percent (13 of 57).
Finally, the much smaller Pinewood team with no player taller than 5-foot-9 out-rebounded Brookside with its 6-2, and 6-1 front-line players, 46-37.
"Skills can sometimes win out over talent," Scheppler said. "We played an awesome game."
Gabi Bade led Pinewood with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Point guard Marissa Hing scored 12 points. Freshman Akayla Hackson came off the bench to score 10. Senior Leeana Bade had nine points and nine rebounds, and sophomore Chloe Eackles had eight points and 12 rebounds.
"They killed us on the offensive boards," Brookside Christian coach Que Ngo said. "They're the smaller team, but they rebounded like they were the bigger team. They just did a much better job of creating for each other. They made us look like we're still learning the game."
Hing scored all 12 of her points in the first half as Pinewood took a 26-19 lead at the break.
"In the first half we didn't shoot that well but we were still up seven," Scheppler said. "At halftime I told them, 'We're going to win this game.' "
Gabi Bade scored 12 points in the third quarter as Pinewood opened a 20-point lead at 46-26.
"I didn't think too much about the game," she said. "I just played basketball."
"Gabi was outstanding," Scheppler said. "She played like she was not afraid to fail. That belief, that confidence in herself spread to the other girls."
By the fourth quarter it was all decided. Brookside's confidence was gone, and Pinewood could pretty much do as it pleased.
"Once we spread the court and got out of the trap, the girls made great decisions on their finishes," Scheppler said. "That was one of the finest Pinewood basketball performances."
Sir Francis Drake 54, Archbishop Riordan 49: Drake of San Anselmo concluded an unlikely run through the NorCal playoffs with the win over Riordan in the Division III championship game.
Drake (26-7), the No. 9 seed, just got by No. 8 Enterprise of Redding 63-62 in its first NorCal game, then went on a roll, knocking off No. 1 Sacred Heart Cathedral 69-60, Miramonte 70-61 and No. 3 Riordan in the final.
Drake went on a 17-0 run to start the second quarter and led 27-16 at halftime. Riordan came back with a 15-4 run to start the third quarter and pull into a 31-31 tie. An Eric Galindo 3-pointer brought the Crusaders even one last time at 45-45 with 2:22 left, before the Pirates salted it away.
Jiday Ubagja and Chiefy Ugbaja scored 21 points apiece for Riordan (19-12). Jasper Verduin scored 23 for Drake.