AMERICAN CANYON -- The Salesian High girls basketball team collected a 53-43 win over stubborn Piedmont on Saturday afternoon in the Northern Regional Division IV championship game.
The top-seeded Pride (29-7), who have won two straight NorCal titles, will face Southern Regional champion Serra-Gardena in the state championship game at 10 a.m. next Saturday at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.
Asked if his team is peaking, and Salesian coach Stephen Pezzola smiled and said he expects the "peak" to come next Saturday.
"They have a very good team," Pezzola said of Serra. "They're very big. I know they have a 6-3 post. They've got three wings that are pretty dynamite, so we'll have to do a better job than we did today on closing out on 3-point shooters, but we'll figure that out."
The Pride dominated the No. 3 seeded Highlanders (22-10) for most of the game, leading 27-12 at halftime and limiting Piedmont to 8 for 37 shooting from the floor overall. The Highlanders had trouble breaking the press, turning the ball over 31 times.
Sophomore Kian McNair led the Pride with 13 points, and 6-foot-4 junior center Zoe Correal had 11 points and seven rebounds.
Piedmont, led by senior guard Maddie Mills' 19 points and junior Lauren Seyranian's 17 points and 11 rebounds, battled gallantly in the fourth quarter, outscoring Salesian 23-15 during mop-up time.
"We haven't quit all year," Piedmont coach Bryan Gardere said. "As coaches we
Salesian star Mariya Moore, had nine points, including going 7 for 7 from the free throw line.
Salesian lost 72-41 to La Jolla Country Day in the state final last year after earning its first NCS and regional Division IV titles. Moore was disappointed in how the 2012 season ended.
"Last year I felt like we had a little more in us that we didn't use on the court," Moore said. "I hope we can let it all out on the court next weekend."