Bishop O'Dowd High School's girls basketball team wanted to get off to a good start on Jan. 12. Mission accomplished.
The Dragons jumped out to a 10-2 lead on visiting St. Mary's in a nonleague game and went on to win 67-49.
Bishop O'Dowd point guard Asha Thomas said her team wanted to come out aggressive.
"We knew if we pushed the ball, they would eventually get tired. Pushing the ball, advancing the ball and looking inside. If not, kick it back. That was our game plan, basically," Thomas said.
Thomas was all over the place, getting 18 points, five assists and four rebounds. Rebounding was another key, as Bishop O'Dowd pulled down the first six rebounds of the game and finished the afternoon with a 59-25 advantage on the boards.
St. Mary's (10-3) fought back in the third quarter, cutting the lead to 42-36. However, a 23-6 run by the Dragons (10-3), including one 12-2 spurt, put the game out of reach.
"You come down, you take a bad shot, they come down and get a three," Panthers coach Nate Fripp said. "You come back down and miss a shot, they hit another three. The next thing you know, it's 12."
St. Mary's got three of Bishop O'Dowd's players in foul trouble -- Breanna Brown, Ariell Bostick and K.C. Waters -- and that opened up the inside for Elexis Goodwin, who finished with 14 points. That was key to the Panthers' comeback.
But it wasn't enough. Although Brown eventually fouled out, she finished with seven rebounds and seven points. Waters scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Oderah Chidom scored 10 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.
Gabby Green scored 16 points and recorded eight steals for St. Mary's.
Oakland Tech 50, Skyline 34: London Robinson scored 12 points and Kelea Pickeral-Dennis had 14 rebounds to help lead the host Bulldogs to a win over the Titans on Jan. 9 in the Oakland Athletic League opener for both teams.
The Bulldogs (11-3) were tenacious, forcing 28 turnovers and holding a 56-34 rebounding advantage. It was all according to the game plan for Oakland Tech coach Valerie Hartsfield.
"Our defense, that's our bread and butter," Hartsfield said. "That's what's going to take us to the Promised Land. As long we continue to play defense like that, continue to talk and play together, we should ease through the OAL."
The only downside on Wednesday for the Bulldogs was their shooting -- Oakland Tech made just 18 of 66 shots from the field (27 percent). As a result, the Titans (10-7) were able to hang around into the second half.
Pickeral-Dennis, who was pleasantly surprised to hear she had 14 rebounds, said the team played well, especially defending Darrien Washington. She managed to score 14 points and grab 14 rebounds, but had to work hard for every one against the physical Bulldogs.
"We played good team ball, got the rebounds, stopped the big girl," Pickeral-Dennis said.
Skyline coach Shawn Hipol obviously was concerned with his team's ball-handling.
"We just didn't handle the pressure well," Hipol said. "A lot of rushed shots and a lot of missed layups. If you don't come in with the right mindset, those things will happen to you."
Bishop O'Dowd 76, Berkeley 73: The Dragons were pushed to the limit by the visiting Yellowjackets, but Ivan Rabb and Bishop O'Dowd gutted out a 76-73 win in West Alameda County Conference Foothill League action Jan. 11.
Rabb had 25 points, 24 rebounds and four blocks for the Dragons, which improved to 11-3 overall and 3-0 in WACC-Foothill action.
Henry Cornelious scored 30 points and kept the Yellowjackets (7-8, 1-2) in the game to the final seconds.
Cornelious hit a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left to get Berkeley within one point. O'Dowd's Juwan Anderson, who scored 21 points, made two free throws with 11.1 seconds left. Berkeley's Justyce Key had a good look at a 3-pointer in the closing seconds but missed, and Rabb secured the rebound.
"They had a great game plan," O'Dowd coach Lou Richie said of the Yellowjackets. "We're very fortunate to get out of here with a win."
The teams were meeting in a league game for the first time since 1995 when both were members of the now-defunct Alameda Contra Costa Athletic League.
The first half was fast-paced with Rabb and Cornelious doing battle. Rabb nearly had a double-double after the first quarter -- nine points and 10 rebounds -- to help the Dragons to a 21-17 lead.
Cornelious and Key both had 15 points in the first half as Berkeley led on three separate occasions. Rabb also had 15 first-half points and as well as 15 rebounds to give O'Dowd a 43-38 cushion after two quarters.
-- Jimmy Durkin