MORAGA, Calif. - Castro Valley
High School's boys basketball climbed over one last Bay Area hurdle at jammed packed McKeon Pavilion on the campus of St. Mary's College Friday night.
The Trojans proved they are tough enough in a historic 60-42 North Coast Section Division I championship win over rough-and-tumble
De La Salle (Concord)
. Roderick Bobbitt
made another strong case for the region's Player of the Year honors with 15 of his game-high 20 points in the second half, including 10 in the fourth when the top-seeded Trojans (28-1) blew the second-seeded Spartans (24-4) away.
Castro Valley broke open a close game with a 27-14 run to head into next week's CIF Northern California playoffs with an air of confidence and a backbone of resiliency.
It was the school's first ever boys NCS basketball title and when the final buzzer went off, many of the more than 3,000 fans that stood the entire game stormed the court.
Marquette-bound Roderick Bobbitt
had 14 points, Chris Read
11 and unsung point guard Dawson Johnson
made several key steals and assists in the fourth quarter. His steak, dribble drive to the hoop and pass off the backboard to Anderson, who flushed it home, put an exclamation point on a scintillating fourth quarter for the Trojans, who have won 21 straight.
"Since the second half of the Bishop O'Dowd game (Feb. 17), we've played the best basketball that has ever been played at Castro Valley," Castro Valley coach Nick Jones said.
The vastly talented squad, with at least three Division I players on its starting five, has proven all season that it can play just about any style, under control and make the big plays when necessary.
But Friday they showed they could go toe-to-toe with the one team that truly thwarts its style. De La Salle's slowdown style and rugged defense seemed a perfect setup for failure for the Trojans, who managed just seven points in the first quarter but never panicked.
The king of cool, 6-2 point guard Bobbitt bided his team and when De La Salle, which got 16 points from Travis Pacos
, finally faltered slightly, the Trojans went in for the kill.
Down 37-32 early in the fourth quarter, De La Salle didn't score for 4:30 and by that time Castro Valley was gone. Anderson tipped in his own miss. Bobbitt made a steal and went in for an emphatic and uncontested flush. Alex Foster made a tough layup. Bobbitt made a had-to-see-to-believe runner off the backboard. And Anderson finished off the 10-0 run with two free throws.
Castro Valley was up 47-32 with 3:17 left and from there it was all fun-and-games for the Trojans.
Jones, who has done a fantastic job keeping this talented team focused, won't let Castro Valley get ahead of itself. He also knows if De La Salle, which has over-achieved all season, gets another shot at the Trojans it shall be an all-out slugfest.DIVISION I GIRLSBerkeley 55, Carondelet 53Chairese Culberson
's game is inside and it was all on display before a packed house at St. Mary's College. But it was her two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter that helped key a 12-3 run and a tenacious NCS championship win over two of the top eight teams in California.
Culberson finished with a game-high 19 points, Cal-bound guard
added 15 and San Diego State-bound post Khristina Hunter added eight, including the game-winning basket with 24 seconds remaining as the state's eighth-ranked team improved to 28-1.
Sixth-ranked Carondelet (Concord)
, which got 13 points by Erica Payne
, 12 from Hannah Huffman
and 10 by Portia Velasco
, dropped to 26-4.
Both teams figure to meet in next week's CIF Northern California title. The teams split two earlier games.
"I practice (3-pointers) all the time, and usually am nervous to shoot them in games," said the 6-foot-1 senior who is headed to San Diego State. "But tonight I just decided to let them go."
And away went Carondelet, which looked in complete command early in the fourth quarter after a steal and pretty coast-to-coast move and bucket from Portia Velasco to go up 52-43. But the Cougars wouldn't score another basket the rest of the game - a span of more than seven minutes - and in the meantime Berkeley got hot from the perimeter.
Culberson hit her two 3-pointers and Boyd hit another to tie the game at 52 with 3:55 left.
After each team hit free throws, Boyd (five steals, five assists, five rebounds) surveyed the court, and saw a wide open Hunter on the block. Hunter turned immediately and banked in a 5-footer to give Berkeley the 55-53 edge.
This was just the third game for Hunter, who was ruled ineligible by the CIF for what it deemed an inproper transfer due to pre-enrollment contact by another player. An Alameda County judge overturned that ruling three weeks ago giving the Yellowjackets another low-block player to help clear the lane for Culberson.
"She's been going through a lot, so that shot was huge," Culberson said. "It was a do or die time and (Hunter) decided it was her time to do."
Huffman missed two free throws with 17 secnds left, Hunter missed the front-end of a one-and-one with 15.7 seconds left and with apparently one last chance to tie or win it, Carondelet called timeout with 8.3 seconds left.
On the inbounds pass, Berkeley's Jasmine Guinn made a beautiful steal, but instead of running out the clock, she went in for an uncontested layup, which also would have clinched the win. One problem. She missed. Carondelet rebounded and had yet one more chance with 2.0 seconds left.
But Huffman's contested 3-pointer from 30 feet was well off and Berkeley had survived.
"Give Berkeley credit for playing good defense (in the fourth quarter) and getting us out of our rhythm," Carondelet coach Margaret Gartner said. "We felt pretty good when their center (Culberson) was jacking up 3s, but he give her credit for making them."
Though both teams struggled in the second half, the first half was a Monet, with Berkeley holding a 35-32 lead. Culberson scored 13 of her points in the up-and-down, well-played half and Carondelet hung tough behind all five starters.
"They're a tough team and it's tough to beat a good team like that three times in a row," Culberson said. "But hey, we're Berkeley High. We're not about to lose."
It was Berkeley's 20th NCS title and fourth in five years. Carondelet had won three straight and seven of eight NCS titles, but all at the Division II level. This was the Cougars' first season in Division I.