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March 23, 2013

SoCal sweeps Day 1

Sacred Heart Cathedral went down swinging while Berkeley and Pinewood had trouble hitting shots as the SoCal champions swept the first day of state championship action.

In a Division I title game between familiar foes, the outcome was also a familiar one as Long Beach Poly easily kept Berkeley at a distance on its way to an easy 46-28 win, the Jackrabbits' fifth state title, and fourth over Berkeley.

The Yellowjackets (22-11) broke a record they previously set (in the '08 title with 31 points) as they could muster just 28 points (just nine in the first half) on 9-of-38 shooting against the longer and more athletic bunch from Poly (30-5).

USF-bound Rachel Howard led Berkeley with 11 points while Jada Matthews, a 6-foot junior center, had 14 points and eight rebounds for the Jackrabbits and junior guard Arica Carter added 11.

Alemany-Mission Hills 46, Sacred Heart Cathedral 40

In a rematch of the 1998 final won by Sacred Heart Cathedral, Alemany of Mission Hills used a 7-0 run to return the favor, winning a hard-fought contest for the Division III title 46-40.

Sacred Heart Cathedral (25-7) has a promising near future with 10 underclass players and the best of the bunch in this contest was 6-foot sophomore Ashanti Coleman.

Coleman had a team-high 14 points on put backs and short jumpers in the lane and used her length to snatch 12 boards, and block five shots, but outside of her 7-of-11 performance from the field the rest of the squad shot just 9-of-45 and that total included plenty of looks in the paint that they were not able to complete.

"We expected to be here and our team gave it all they had," said first-year Irish coach LyRyan Russell, summarizing his team's goal and effort.

6-foot-1 junior Hannah Johnson, had 12 points and 11 boards and three-point shooter Leslie Lopez-Wood tallied a game-high 16 for the victorious Warriors (32-5).

Sierra Canyon 47, Pinewood 33

A 9-0 run to start the second half and 14 points, 16 rebounds, five blocks, and four assists from 6-foot sophomore guard Kennedy Burke were the differences as first-time SoCal champ Sierra Canyon took the opener of the state finals with a 47-33 win over Pinewood of Los Altos Hills in a matchup of two young squads (just one senior in each starting lineup).

Pinewood (24-8), 5-1 in previous title games, came out like a team that had been here before as they jumped out to a 5-0 lead, but Sierra Canyon sophomore guard Gani Nevill gave the Trailblazers their first lead with back-to-back three-pointers right before the half to give Sierra Canyon the momentum it needed.

"Gani's two three-pointers were huge," coach Alicia Komaki added in the pst-game press conference.

Holding a distinct height advantage with three starters at least 5-foot-10 (compared to just one starter at 5-foot-10 for Pinewood), Sierra Canyon (24-9) made adjustments on defense and forced the Panthers beyond the arc (where they would hit just 5-of-26 shots) after Pinewood effectively run some nice back-door cuts off of their high-post offense in the first half.

Pinewood's woeful shooting came at the same time that Burke, the slender right-hand shooter with the southpaw dribble and the ability to defend all over the floor, collected six third quarter points, two blocks and two assists as the Trailblazers, leading just 18-17 at the half, opened up a 14-point lead with an 18-5 third quarter.

Doc Scheppler's scappy Panthers made a game of it with a 7-0 run to start the fourth period with buckets by junior Leanna Bade, who led with a team-high eight points, and spark plug Mariisa Hing, a 5-foot-1 sophomore guard leading the team in scoring, but Burke and 5-foot-11 sophomore post Cheyanne Wallace (who added seven points, 11 boards, and three blocks) kept the Panthers at bay as the two combined for eight blocked shots and Sierra Canyon took home the school's first-ever state championship.

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