Salesian took home a third straight NorCal crown, this time in the Open Division, by shooting 52% from the field and holding off a furious rally by the Miramonte Matadors in a 78-64 win. Kian McNair led the way with 18 points while Minyon Moore chipped in 13 and her big sister, All-American Mariya Moore, managed only seven points but did dish out nine assists despite foul trouble. Sophomore Sabrina Ionescu had a game-high 23 points for the Mats. Next Saturday the Pride faces perennial SoCal champion Long Beach Poly, a 56-46 winner over Etiwanda, for the state title.
The Div. I regional championship game produced a new champ as SJS winner and 11th-seeded Pleasant Grove of Elk Grove upset three-time defending champion Berkeley, 51-42 behind a double-double (13 points, 11 rebounds) from Aaliyah Pena and 14 points and seven boards from guard Brittany Nguyen. Pleasant Grove, now the lowest seed to ever win the NorCal crown, will play next Saturday against Canyon Springs, a 66-51 winner over Alemany in the SoCal Div. I final.
In Div. II action, perennial power Archbishop Mitty (19-11) rode the torrid shooting of sophomore guard Jahnay Anderson and clutch play down the stretch from UCLA-bound Kelli Hayes to earn a stirring 57-54 win over McNair-Stockton (28-4) for their tenth regional championship and a birth in the state title game versus Chaminade of West Hills, a 67-50 winner over West Torrance. Anderson broke the Div. II regional title game mark with five treys and tied Hayes for game-high honors with 17 points. Senior Brittany Butler led a balanced McNair attack with 14 points.
Kelli Hayes, Mitty - The UCLA-bound Hayes struggled for all but the last four minutes and then she showed why she is a top-rated prospect as she displayed many of her skills posting up smaller guards, swooping to the hoop finishing with her left hand, and knocking down free throws in the clutch. Hayes had team highs with four assists and nine boards.
Jahnay Anderson, Mitty - A 5-foot-4 guard, Anderson staked her claim as one of the region's top long-distance bonbers for the future while dispelling the notion about shooters having difficulties in the bowl that is Sleep Train Arena. It will be interesting to watch Anderson's development because her size renders her a point guard and with her ability to shoot, she could be a major threat should she develop her offensive skills off the dribble.
Mandy Coleman, McNair - The 6-foot-4 Coleman, headed to Oklahoma State, used her frame well in snaring 18 boards and blocking four shots. Conditioning and some consistent post moves will help her at the next level, but for a player her size she is quite comfortable in the open floor leading the break as evidenced by some nice bounce passes to teammates for easy scores as she collected four assists to go along with 10 points.
Tiara Tucker, McNair - Fast and furious describes Tucker. Bound for USF, it is one's hope that the Dons will push the rock because that is what Tucker does....well. Time after time she shredded through the defense to find teammates for layups that they unfortunately didn't finish. As lethal as she can be in the open floor, it will node Tucker well to get more consistent on the perimeter.
Aaliyah Pena, Pleasant Grove - With good size and a decent shot, the 6-foot-1 senior bound for UC Riverside was the rock in the middle for Eagles with 13 points and 11 rebounds. She also helped bring the ball upcourt against Berkeley's pressure.
Desire Finnie, Berkeley - The rangy UOP-bound wing had her moments slashing to the bucket and getting her hands on a few passes as she finished with a good stat line of 16 points, nine boards, and three steals. Standing 5-foot-11, Finnie will need to become more consistent from the perimeter and with her handle at the next level, but she'll be a nice addition for UOP, particularly on the defensive end.
Jaiamomi Welch-Coleman, Berkeley - This 5-foot-2 guard is the latest in a long line of great 'Jackets guards and she was all over the floor getting to the rim at will, just not always finishing. Just a junior, look for Welch-Coleman to get better from the perimeter as she looks to improve on her No. 22 overall ranking in NorCal.
Sabrina Ionescu, Miramonte - The 5-foot-11 sophomore guard struggled with the speed of Salesian in the first half, but toughed it out and led a spirited second-half charge with 18 points. Knocking down three straight treys to help the Mats reduce Salesian's 23-point lead to just five early in the fourth quarter, Ionescu showed that when she can't drive to the basket, she can definitely tak whatis given and knock down the perimeter shot.
Kian McNair, Salesian - This junior guard has become the x-factor that has Salesian in a position to possibly win the second open division state title with her ability to score, especially from the perimeter, and defend. Her quickness on both sides of the ball was a hindrance to Miramonte as she not only knocked down shots on her way to a team-high 18 points to gowith six assists, but also harassed the Mats guards into three steals. Look for star to shine brightly In her senior year.
Mariya Moore, Salesian - It wasn't one of Moore's best games but it's a sure bet that the hard-charging star will take her line of seven points, nine assists, seven boards, and even four fouls if it means a trip to the state finals. As is always the case, Moore set the pace with her ability to race by defenders and even absorb contact on hard drives to the interior of Miramonte's defense as she dropped laser-like passes to her teammates for easy opportunities.