DANVILLE -- With relentless pressure defense and hot long-distance shooting from guards Sierra Dixon and Maranne Johnson, the Deer Valley High girls basketball team upset No. 1 seed and defending champion Monte Vista 65-57 in the North Coast Section Division I semifinals Wednesday.
Dixon and Johnson each scored 24 points, combining for eight 3-pointers, against the host Mustangs to help the No. 4 Wolverines (24-5) earn a spot in Friday's section final at Saint Mary's College against No. 2 Berkeley.
To get there, the Wolverines had to turn up the defensive intensity after trailing Monte Vista 28-25 at halftime.
"We had to come out in a different way so they would feel uncomfortable," Dixon said of Deer Valley's second-half man defense. "Once we made them feel uncomfortable, we took advantage and got the win."
Dixon and Johnson were especially destructive in the third quarter on both sides of the ball when they combined four 3-pointers and forced several Monte Vista turnovers to take a 49-41 lead.
But the Mustangs (24-4) didn't go quietly. After Deer Valley took a 10-point lead early in the fourth quarter, Amanda Daily drilled three consecutive 3-pointers to tie the game at 52-52 with 5:10 to play.
Alejanda Cephas responded with a jumper, and the Wolverines led the rest of the way. The senior forward also had a key layup and block in the final minute to hold off the Mustangs.
"We're hitting our peak right now," Deer Valley coach Mark Hurtado said. "Ever since our Carondelet game (an 81-50 loss Feb. 1) when we got our butts kicked, the intensity picked up on defense and you're seeing that on the court now."
Lily Wissinger led Monte Vista with 17 points while Daily and Madi Burroughs each added 16.